The Firmdale Academy is our newest project. Inaugurated in September, just in time for the new school year, the fully refurbished facilities include operations offices, IT training rooms, a training hotel bedroom, a training bar, a training kitchen and the jewel of our operations: a state-of-the-art bakery!
This is where all our delicious baked goods – including our infamous scones – will be made from scratch by our talented bakers and delivered daily to our hotels.
This week we decided to take the opportunity to test the facilities in a sourdough-making workshop with Robin Read – the master chef – and his team. Robin oversees the kitchens of our London restaurants and is now the Firmdale Academy’s kitchen lead, providing support and training for young, upcoming chefs.
The day started in the academy’s coffee shop, a double height glazed space between two warehouse buildings that we designed. It has the characteristic Firmdale style with a relaxed French bistro twist, the perfect backdrop for an aromatic cup of coffee and deliciously buttery croissants.
Walking into the bakery, we were handed our uniforms for the morning and taught the importance of the primary materials in bread making – flour, water and salt. Our organic English flour, milled at Shipton Mill in Gloucestershire is of the highest quality. We observed the difference in texture and colour of each flour – just like we would our fabrics!
Then the real fun began – combining a starter dough with the right amounts of flour, water and salt we were shown the techniques of kneading the dough with rigor and we got our arm workout for the morning too!
While we were waiting for our dough to prove and in between sessions of kneading, we were shown how our mouth-watering croissants are made – with A LOT of butter for whoever is curious!
To finish off this glorious morning, we were shown how to slice and put the dough into the oven, so one by one we made our creative marks, peeled the dough and waited for the bread to rise.
In this stunning environment for educating and growing the Firmdale family, we were lucky enough to learn so much from our excellent bakers and even got to take home heavenly breads and pastries to last the whole weekend.
Thank you Robin and team!