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TOAST Bakes With Jack

Throw a bread making party or simply wow your guests with Bake With Jack

Whether you want to learn how to bake, throw a bread making party or simply wow your guests with a live bakery demonstration at your next do - Jack Sturgess is your man. TOAST chats to the brains and baking talent behind Bake with Jack to learn more about his love affair with baking, as well as his top tips for whipping up a loaf like a pro at home.



Jack Sturgess may well be a ‘jack of all trades’, but there is definitely one that he is a master of and that’s baking. Although having said that, Jack is quick to point out that he would rather be described a chef, and not as a baker. 

I just don’t want people to get the wrong idea! I am not a baker – I’ve never worked in a bakery with all the specialised equipment that they use, like commercial ovens or a proving cupboard,” he explains.

But I have made bread work in so many environments and in people’s homes where there isn’t all that stuff - because you really don’t need any special equipment to bake great bread at home. You just need a little curiosity, a willingness to have fun and experiment, and a little understanding, and that's what I'm here to help with!”

Based in Camberley, Surrey, Jack Sturgess trained and worked as a professional chef and yes, he may have learnt how to make dinner rolls at catering college, but it wasn’t until 2007 when he went to one of renowned French chef and baker Richard Bertinet’s classes in Bath that he really got a feel for baking.

The baking process is pretty miraculous I reckon!” enthuses Jack.

Flour, yeast, salt and water become a living dough, treat it nicely with patience and love and it becomes the most delicious bread! Not to mention the smell around the house...”

Inspired by his newfound passion for the baking process and an established love of teaching, Jack came up with the idea for Bake with Jack in 2013, and was soon offering private bread making courses in people’s homes using their own equipment and ovens.

I want people to discover that making amazing bread at home is entirely possible and probably easier than you think. Regardless of our busy schedules and lack of special equipment, it can be done!” explains Jack.

And I want to give people a real understanding of the process - an understanding of what the flour does, what the yeast is there for, and why it does what it does! Once you have the knowledge of these things, everything else falls into place.”

Baking With Jack Demo Edited 1

Jack’s private courses are what he describes as ‘fully hands on’ – budding bakers get to make 3 or 4 breads from start to finish and while the dough is resting Jack also flexes his professional chef muscles by guiding you through a few of his favourite accompaniments, creating a meal built around the bread; so whilst you’re channelling your inner Paul Hollywood you'll pick up some handy chef tips and knife skills too. 

“The best thing about teaching is watching as the penny drops - the moments when I touch exactly on the one thing that has been making bread fail in the past for people without them even knowing it.” enthuses Jack.

Jack offers a selection of tailored courses such as an introduction for beginners or ‘Mediterranean Bread’ for the more ambitious, which covers bakes such as focaccia and traditional ciabatta that are then matched with a selection of fresh and tasty dishes that incorporate olives, rosemary, garlic, tomatoes, fresh salads and a selection of cured meats and salamis.

I love bread and the bread making process but without sharing what I know and what I do there would be no point.” Jack explains. 

“Plus people are becoming more conscious of what they eat, and eating things that are more natural without all the artificial bits and bobs and preservatives in modern bread, and bread that you make with your own two hands will be the best you have ever tasted!”

Bake With Jack Cutting

Jack And Team

Today, Jack still hosts private home courses but Bake With Jack has become so much more. Now you can join Jack at one of his regular group classes in Surrey, or if you fancy a fun and interactive bread making party with your friends and family then Jack can also come to you.

A bread making party is a great social event. There are times where we’ll have fun making bread all together, times where things get a little competitive and times for relaxing and chatting too, and as the dough rests I put together a meal, with a little participation too!” he explains.  

They work really well for hen parties and stags too since the activity of the day and meal are combined. Family get togethers work really well too but what I enjoy the most is when it has been organized for a gift for somebody - when they don’t know I am coming and the whole day is a surprise! It’s so much fun.

Bake With Jack Group Workshop

Bread Baking

Bread Basket

BW Kits 

If you’ve got the baking bug but don’t fancy getting your hands dirty, or should I saw dough-y, then Jack can also pop along to your next do and wow your guest with a live cookery demonstration; a shorter, hands-off version of one of his courses. In two hours, Jack will demonstrate how to make two of his favourite breads plus an accompaniment to have with each such as black olive fougasse with baked feta cheese, mozzarella and pesto tear and share bread or rosemary and potato toasts with beetroot, goats cheese and honey.

“You can sit and relax with friends and a glass of wine, while I show you how it’s done and offer plenty of tasters!” laughs Jack. 

“Plus I can answer questions and I’ll leave you with all the recipes too”

And if all that wasn’t enough, Jack has even developed his own range of Bake with Jack Bread Making kits so that you can still bake at home with Jack, without him actually being there. These good-looking, well-designed kits contain everything you need to bake great bread at home including a special online course and make great gifts for budding bakers.

I think it is really important that a kit actually works!” explains Jack. 

“It sounds obvious but I really put as much as I can in place to make sure you are super impressed with yourself when your bread is done, and you have the skills to do it again and again. Homemade bread is delicious, and all the more delicious because the flavour is elevated by the pride you feel for having made it yourself! With your hands, and with your heart.”

Whether you start the meal with a loaf or warm bread fresh from the oven or perhaps serve it towards the end with cheese - nothing beats the effort, skill and love involved in impressing your guests with a few homemade delights and, much like TOAST, Jack also loves to entertain and share his love of cooking with friends.

I really love getting creative with food and seeing other people enjoying what I have made. It is such a simple pleasure, and extends through everything if you think about it…” enthuses Jack.

“Getting creative, doing what you love as best as you can, and sharing it with those people closest who love it too. Whether you’re baking, cooking, singing, dancing, do whatever comes naturally to you - whatever you do, it’s you.”

If Jack’s infectious passion for home baking and entertaining has left you feeling inspired then read on for his top tips for delicious bread success…

JACK’S TOP TIPS FOR BAKING LIKE A PRO AT HOME

  • Make sure you use room temperature water for your dough

    Not warm, lukewarm, tepid, body heat... If the room is 21 degrees use 21 degree water. A simple step that will sidestep SO MANY potential disasters on the way to making your bread!

  • Don’t flour the table

    When you are kneading your dough, stitch up! Be comfortable with the stickiness and your bread will thank you for it!

  • You don’t need a warm place for the dough to prove up

    If your water is room temperature, leave the dough covered at room temperature.

  • Try bread that you’ve made yourself

    If you have minor digestive issues with modern bread then try homemade bread because it has a completely different impact on your digestive system. Modern bread in the UK is awful in my personal opinion - it is laced with processing aids and artificial additives and the structure and texture of it alone is enough to give us a dodgy tum.

  • Sourdough really is the king!

    It is THE most natural bread you can eat. Although my personal favourite at the moment is ciabatta; it is such a wonderful and unique process to get those big bubbles inside and there is a real exciting moment when cutting it open to see how you got on. Oh yeah, and it’s super soft and tastes delicious too!

  • Watch all of my bread tip videos

    At bakewithjack.co.uk/videos – there are a lot, but directions in recipe books can be so tricky to follow. They are subjective and sometimes lead you down the wrong path! So I actually show you how it’s done and give you the knowledge you need to avoid failure each time! 

For more information about Bake with Jack then head over to his page in TOAST’s Little Black Book.

 

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