Discover the true taste of Wales at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre
Wales’ growing reputation as a nation of passionate producers and fanatical foodies is nowhere more apparent than at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. Set in the heart of the Conwy Valley and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Snowdonia, Bodnant’s multi-award-winning Welsh Food Centre provides a memorable visit, whether it’s for a few hours, a day or even longer stay in the adjoining farmhouse.
Carving out the time to bake is important on so many levels yet, despite the popularity of ‘bake off’ and other such culinary voyeurism, most of us do not have the skills and the confidence to do so. Right now, baking would seem to be big business with the homeware department of stores up and down the country filled with pretty little fripperies, retro measuring cups, and many surprisingly useful items. But how many of us would consider baking a tea time treat as normal as whipping up an omelette for tea? I’m hoping plenty, but I won’t hold my breath.
Why should we learn to bake?
There are many reasons why we should learn to bake and, for me, the recently media touted truths about sugar stand at the forefront. Cheap carbohydrates are making us fat. With cheap being the operative word here. Fancy a muffin? Here’s four; they are absolutely massive and will only cost you a quid. They also taste like polystyrene but hopefully you won’t notice as all the decent bakeries closed down a lifetime ago and nobody bothered to teach you to bake.
Baking is not supposed to be fast, and it is not supposed to be cheap. Our view of how much food should cost is blinding us to the reality of producing food. It puts the good folk out of business and makes available all sorts of things that we really should not be eating on a regular basis. We don’t need to ban sugar completely or eat raw cacao and avocado in the name of enjoyment; we simply need a little perspective. Buy the good stuff that you can only afford once in a while or make it yourself. Chances are that you may only bake at home once a week tops, so your consumption will automatically be in check.
Other reasons we should learn to bake
There are a whole host of reasons why we should learn to bake, or at the very least let a skilled and passionate local producer do it for us. Passionate may seem like a dreadful cliché when it comes to writing and talking about food, but it is the truth. The bare bones of good food is the loving hands that created it; read like Water for Chocolate if you don’t believe me.
Learn to appreciate good food
First up; appreciation and understanding. Decent baking and patisserie is where art and science meet. An amalgamation of ingredients designed to elicit immense pleasure, a good chocolate brownie will stop you in your tracks and force you to acknowledge the sensation. Then move on; any well-worn hedonist will tell you that the trick to pleasure is knowing when to stop.
Use decent ingredients
Sows ears and silk purses spring to mind. The more substance and flavour in your ingredients, the better the finished product will be. The palette that you work with is fairly small, so use the best that you can find. Make this connection between produce and the food that you eat and it will inform your entire cooking and eating life from here on in.
Calm your soul
Time in the kitchen can be exceptionally therapeutic. Approaching the bench with a calm mind, and working through a series of often repetitive tasks, can still the mind. Discovering that you gain something through the creative process can be an enlightening experience if you have never explored that side of yourself before. Relax, enjoy, go at your own pace; your baking will be better for it.
The end product
Baking of course results in something that you and others can eat. That is ultimately the point. It is a rare cook that does all of this purely for themselves; most of us do it because it brings pleasure to others. Slightly less altruistically, there are few cooks who do not thrive on the accolade and acceptance that this brings. Being told that you have done well is something that we all need from time to time.
Learn to bake with Bodnant
We do rather a lot of baking here at Bodnant. We teach skills in our cookery school, we have a range of quality baking ingredients in our farm shop, and of course we have our own in house artisan bakery. We also have lots of information and recipes here on our blog.
So go on. Learn to bake. What have you got to lose?
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