The great Swindon bake-off

Tom Herbert

Tom Herbert

First published in News by

THE arts of traditional baking and bread making were revived in Swindon over the weekend as professional chefs shared tricks of the trade with a captivated public at the Flour Festival.

Amateur bakers flocked to Wharf Green for the two-day event, which saw one of Channel 4’s Fabulous Baker Brothers, Tom Herbert, vegan chef Ms Cupcake and celebrity gardener David Domoney, demonstrate simple ways to turn their kitchens and gardens into enviable treasure troves of flavour and scent.

The Courgettes, an eccentric band of musicians clad in chef gear,a display by the Snitch’ n’ Bitch club and a pair of performers moonlighting as window cleaners were just a few of the quirky offerings at the Brunel Centre’s spring extravaganza.

The festival was a homecoming for baker Tom Herbert, of Hobbs House, whose dad hails from Swindon.

His natural charm and ease around the baking station as he prepared pittas, soda bread, mackerel pate and a fragrant curry worked a treat, especially with female spectators.

Far from following complex and long-winded recipes, the father-of-four opted for simplicity on his mission to resurrect the lost art of baking, and particularly bread making.

“I just want to get people fired up for cooking great food at home and bread is a big part of that,” he said.

“Baking is an art that people are rediscovering and there is a huge renaissance of baking at home and bread is hot on the heels of it.

“I think people are put off by bread because you need to use yeast but I want to show them that there is nothing simpler than making soda bread for example. I love baking because of its ability to bring people together. There is really something in the making, sharing and breaking of bread.”

Becky Frankland and her husband Daniel travelled all the way from Hampshire after winning a competition to assist Tom during one of his demonstrations.

Becky said: “I thought you needed a lot of equipment to make bread. Often I just bake cakes because I feel more comfortable with that but now I’m going to try to make bread.”

TV gardener David Domoney’s imaginative kitchen-inspired tips and tricks opened up a quirky and enjoyable new side to gardening.

His use of Viagra to make plants stand to attention, or vodka, beer and even washing-up liquid to tend to his garden raised more than one eyebrow and earned him a few giggles.

“To me cooking and gardening run in parallel,” said the ITV star. “What we grow they cook.

“And we have a tendency in gardening as in cooking to make things look harder than they are.

“Everybody associates gardening with mowing the lawn or cutting out weeds but for me it’s about enjoyment and we should see a garden as something that improves our lives. It’s not all hard work. You can use Viagra to make your bloom stiffer or put vodka in a clear of cut flowers to stop the water going green.”

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