Today I spent a lovely day at the Chiltern Open Air Museum near Chalfont St.Giles on a historic baking day. I discovered this delightful museum quite by chance when looking online for something to do when my parents were visiting. Together we had a lovely time wandering around the rescued building from the local area and talking to the volunteers there – I was very impressed with the allotment! My Mother booked me on this baking day as a Birthday treat (still 3 months off I might add) as it looked different.
There were only 5 of us and we spent the day in an 18th Century cottage with volunteer Jenny Templeton, preparing bread and learning how to get the oven up to temperature (over 2 hours of feeding it wood). The bread was very slow to rise as it was a cold Autumnal day and we were glad for the work out kneading the dough. I had a delicious light lunch in the tea room, including this slice of green and jasmine tea cake (unfortunately couldn’t taste green tea or jasmine but nice light sponge) and some Fentiman’s rose lemonade. In the afternoon we shaped the dough and while it was having a final rise, we made pastry and decorated jam tarts; I took along some of my lovely ‘Autumn Glut’ jam (windfall apples and pears with damsons and brambles from the hedgerows) which went down well. Then the bread went in the prepared oven, sealed with clay to keep the heat in. We made some butter while the bread was baking; double cream beaten with a variety of authentic implements. The butter took a lot of elbow grease to make; it so much easier with a machine! During the day and at the end I had time to wander around the museum a little and get a good look in some of the buildings. Finally our bread and tarts were baked and the butter patted and wrapped and then time to go home. I lovely day playing at a different way of baking.