I’m Rebecca Bishop of The Next Loaf Baking School in Wenhaston, Suffolk. I teach fun, informative and hands-on baking classes that’ll leave you feeling inspired and eager to get back to your own kitchen to practise what you’ve learnt!  With Christmas fast approaching and lots of classes to choose from, a baking class gift voucher might be the perfect present for the baker in your life so they can choose the class they attend.

I’m also the author of the baking book Two Magpies Bakery and founder of Two Magpies Bakery.  Each month my column will feature a delicious seasonal bake, book recommendations, insider tips for ingredients, equipment and much more. To get the latest information sign up for my newsletter www.thenextloaf.co.uk or follow me on Instagram @thenextloaf

All the Gear: Dough scoring knife

No, this isn’t for scoring your loaf out of 10 to judge how good it is – though this way could be a fun activity! Scoring your dough with a sharp knife, technically called a lame or grignette, enables your loaf to reach its full expansion potential as it bakes. Learning to use this knife is an important part of artisan bread making. To mix a dough, flour and water are combined with either bakers or sourdough yeast. As the dry flour is hydrated the yeast microbes are activated and start feeding on the available starch and sugars. This is known as fermentation and a by-products is carbon dioxide bubbles, a gas that expands the loaf as it proves. When the dough is placed in the oven these bubbles expand rapidly in size and so does your loaf. When you score (cut) your loaf just before placing it in the oven the dough can expand in a controlled manner in the part of the loaf you have chosen – rather than a uncontrolled burst. A Lame knife is usually very sharp, often using a disposable razor blade, and can cut through the dough cleanly and quickly to score your loaf just before baking.

Baking know-how: working with unfamiliar ingredients

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time baking in Norway, working one to one with a student I met last year. The brief was for her to gain confidence with her bakery oven and learn to use a range of local Norwegian flour to create regional breads for the guests at her luxury lodge. Though it was a wonderful week in a beautiful location I also had the challenge of working with flour I was unfamiliar which we milled every day from local wholegrains.

My learning curve was steep and it made me realise how important it is to keep things simple when you’re figuring out how a particular ingredient behaves. So some simple guidelines when working with something new:

• Start with a recipe you’re familiar with and introduce the new ingredient as a replacement for one of the known components e.g. the flour

• Don’t use more than one ‘unknown’ ingredient in a recipe. This way you can isolate any changes and understand the effect they are having on the final outcome.

• Keep notes about what you observe and any changes in method you have made.

• Review the notes at the end whilst taste testing and immediately make a plan for what you will do next time while it’s fresh in your mind!

Strawberry Rose Jam

• 500g Strawberries, ripe and flavourful
• 450g Granulated Sugar
• 1tsp Powdered pectin or use pectin jam sugar
• 1/2 Lemon, Lemon juice
• 3 Tsp Rose Water
• Digital Thermometer
• Slotted Spoon
• Lidded Jam Jars
• Baking parchment/cellophane discs


    The day before quickly rinse the strawberries in cold water then hull them, slice any that are very large into 2 but keep the majority whole if possible. Place the strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice into a large pan and bring this mixture to a brief simmer. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave to macerate overnight.

    The next day thoroughly wash your jam jars and lids and place in the oven at 160°c for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off but leave the jam jars inside so they stay warm. Place a saucer in the fridge for the wrinkle test later.

    Strain the macerated strawberries through a sieve and pour the juices into a large heavy based pan. Retain the fruit until later. Bring the juices to the boil, stirring regularly to eliminate hot spots. Skim the surface as required with a slotted spoon and continue until the temperature reaches 105°c, then add the strawberries to the pan.

    Return to the boil until 105°c is reached again then start doing the wrinkle test. Place a small spoonful of jam on the cold saucer and push gently with a finger after 30 seconds. If the jam wrinkles, it’s reached setting point. Once the jam is sufficiently set add the rose water, remove from the heat, and ladle into the warm jam jars then seal and lid.

    Baking classes

    The Next Loaf baking school is in Wenhaston, Suffolk. Classes are small so there’s lots of personal attention. They’re suitable for beginners or bakers looking for more consistency and challenge so we’ll be mixing, shaping and baking our way through an exciting range of classes including Scandinavian baking, Easter baking, Sourdough, parent and child baking and sourdough pizza – to name a few! Classes (and gift vouchers) are now available to book on my website www.thenextloaf.co.uk

    Private baking classes

    Planning a special get-together, hen-do or just love to bake with friends and family? If you’re interested in a bespoke classes in your own home for a maximum of 6 people get in touch with rebecca@thenextloaf.co.uk 

    Upcoming events

    • January 2024 onwards – Baking classes in Wenhaston (just off the A12 near Southwold)
    visit my website www.thenextloaf.co.uk to book.

    • 15 June – Introduction to baking class

    • 22 June – Sourdough Pizza masterclass (evening)

    • 2 July – ‘Fika – Scandinavian Sweet Baking

    • 3 August – Sourdough pizza masterclass (evening)