Cookery school Q&A: Paul Barker, Cinnamon Square

Paul Barker is never without his weighing scales

Paul Barker is never without his weighing scales

First food memory?
Watching my Nan make fish pies. She used to live in Brightlingsea and I use to go with her to buy an amazing selection of fresh fish straight from the boats.

First cookery skills?
Besides peeling sacks of potatoes, shaping and moulding bread was an invaluable skill to learn.

Favourite ingredients?
This would have to be my sourdough culture. It started its life at the very beginning of Cinnamon Square in 2005 and is still alive and leavening my sourdough breads.

Recipes or improvise?
Definitely strict recipes weighed in grams. Meticulous and methodical that’s me!

Most underrated dish?
Real bread made using traditional methods. Only a fraction of bread sold in the UK is made by craft bakers using only the necessary ingredients. Real bread uses as little as three ingredients but allows time to generate natural taste and aroma.

Indispensable kitchen gadget or utensil?
Weighing scales – baking must be precise to be perfect.

Tell us a top cookery tip?
During bread making, when you think you have kneaded the dough enough, give it a couple more minutes of intense kneading.  If the dough is not kneaded sufficiently, the loaf will lack volume or tolerance.

Eat at home or eat out?
Eat out. There are so many amazing places and cuisines to experience in life.

What’s Britain’s best kept food secret?
The Ricky Sticky bun.  Although not such a secret since winning the speciality category at the World Bread Awards.  This is a sweet fermented bun with a cinnamon filling and topped with a caramelised sticky pecan goo – awesome!

What are the key ingredients for a successful cookery class?
Besides the knowledge, skills and the ability of the tutor to engage pupils, I would say thorough preparation and for students to have as much hands-on involvement as possible.

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Contact: Cookery school Q&A: Paul Barker, Cinnamon Square

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