If you live in London or have visited the city before, and have a least a slight interest in its food scene, I am sure you’ve heard of the famous ‘Pillows of Joy’ before. Those perfectly looking and delicious doughnuts at Borough Market, filled with all sorts of custards and jams. I, personally, am a big fan ever since I tried them last year, and not only that, but I absolutely love Bread Ahead and the people behind it.
A few months ago, I found out through my mum, who lives in Spain, that they did half-day and full-day workshops at their HQ’s in Borough and was dying to do the Doughnut one. Although, the price put me off at the start, until I spoke to a colleague who had already done it and couldn’t recommend it enough and said the price was completely worth it. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to buy it for my mum and I to do it during her visit to London this month, and it was the BEST decision.
When you arrive at Bread Ahead, Justin Gellatly (the creator of the famous doughnuts) greets you with the biggest of smiles and with a table all set for the workshop, with tea and coffee available and some bite-sized brownies. His wife, Louise, is also there to welcome students and throughout the class she assists him with whatever he might need. They’ve been together for 27 years (wow!) and, together with Matthew Jones, founded Bread Ahead in 2013. Only four years later, they have around 130 staff working for them, and went from being a small bakery to using 8 tons of flour a week and making around 750 liters of custard. Talk about a successful business!
During the workshop, we learned everything from making the dough, to moulding it into a perfect ball, to creating all the different types of fillings. The dough itself has to rest for 24 hours so the gluten can develop, therefore they had prepared some for us to make the doughnuts on the day. But at the same time, they also gave us a plastic tub to take home the dough we made so we can bake even more pillows of joy at home. Genius.
Because a big part of Bread Ahead’s doughnuts is the filling, Justin also taught us how to make the famous vanilla custard and the honey comb. They’re dangerously easy to make… Although, if you’re not a fan of filled doughnuts, these taste INSANELY GOOD just plain. We got to try them before we filled them up whilst they were still warm and OH MY, they’re possibly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
Their doughnuts come with many different types of fillings and we were given some already made at the end, to give everyone the chance to fill their pillows of joy with their favorite! Plus, the recipe of all of them – together with the recipe for the doughnuts – was emailed to us the morning after the workshop, which is incredibly handy so you don’t have to worry about making a note of it whilst your hands are full of dough and flour!
At the end of the workshop, we were left with six delicious doughnuts, plus a bag (or two!) of honey comb, and enough dough to make another six doughnuts at home.
They also had signed copies of their book, ‘Baking School’, which you can buy at a discounted rate. My mum couldn’t help getting one for herself!
I honestly could not recommend this workshop enough. Justin’s knowledge makes it enlightening and his great personality makes it enjoyable and fun for bakers of all levels. Christmas is just around the corner so if you’re struggling to find a good present give these workshops a go! You can check the ones they have, dates and prices on this link: http://www.breadahead.com/courses. Happy baking!