The Hornbeam café is a perfect place to take a break and escape from the hustle and bustle of busy Walthamstow streets. Tucked away by the bakers arms, this friendly little café specialises in organic vegetarian food, with a strong emphasis on community involvement. The café also plays host to various book groups, open mic nights and occasional supperclub evenings.
One particularly successful group, the Hornbeam Bakers collective, also operated from the café throughout the past couple of years. These guys bake the loaves sold at the Hornbeam café and market stalls, in addition to running a range of baking classes, designed for everyone from total beginners to regular bread bakers. Already having some home baking experience, I signed up for two of their Sunday bread making courses; Alternative Breads, featuring a range of wheat free flours, and Speciality bread, where we would make a range of more advanced loaves such as focaccia, ciabatta and baguette.
Our teacher for these two classes was Raju, a young baker with a clear passion and enthusiasm for home baking. The courses ran from 11-4pm in the Hornbeam kitchen, where we would spend the day sharing baking stories and preparing our dough mixes before placing our lovingly made loaves into the communal oven for baking. I found the alternative bread day particularly useful, I've never managed to find a supermarket wheat-free bread that didn't taste of cardboard, so it was really good to have the confidence to make decent spelt, rye and tapioca loaves at home. In fact, I was so inspired by the courses that I went out and bought a breadmaker, and haven't bought another supermarket loaf of bread since!
As of winter 2013, the Hornbeam bakers group are moving into their new premises at the Blackhorse Workshops. They are expanding the range of baking courses offered to include some new ones such as pastry making (homemade croissants - yum!) aswell as all the old favourites such as the ever popular sourdough bread course. At just £30-35 per course, I can highly recommend these to anyone wanting to learn more about baking! You can find more details of all the upcoming classes on their blog here.