Stretch and Knead – yoga and baking

Chances are, if you live in Cardiff, you’ve heard of The One Mile Bakery. Brainchild of journalist-turned-baker Elisabeth Mahoney the bakery delivers homemade bread and seasonal soups to subscribers within a mile of her home. Elisabeth also runs hugely popular baking classes from her own kitchen at weekends.

I’ve wanted to do a baking class with the One Mile Bakery for some time, after seeing people raving about it on Twitter (taking a class is even on my Cardiff Bucket List). When I saw that Elisabeth had teamed up with Bristol-based yoga teacher Tracey Johnson, to start running Stretch and Knead – yoga and baking day workshops and weekend retreats – it was right up my street! So I was really chuffed when Elisabeth contacted me to see if I wanted to go along to their inaugural session.

Saturday, 15 November saw seven of us arrive at the Steiner School in Llandaff North, to spend the day stretching our bodies and kneading loaves.

We were welcomed with a hot drink (extra points guys for having real coffee and not instant) before introducing ourselves to each other and talking about what we hoped to get out of the day. There was a real mix of ages and abilities on the course; in both the baking and the yoga. One lovely lady even told us how she’d tried, and failed, to make bread throughout her life – even giving herself an actual heart attack in the process. But she was determined that stretch and knead day would be the day she finally made a successful loaf.

Elisabeth talks us through the 'yoga loaf'
Elisabeth talks us through the ‘yoga loaf’

Then we were given our special stretch and knead aprons and it was time to start baking. Elisabeth talked us through the ‘yoga loaf’ a bread she’d devised especially for the day; made of wholemeal flour, oats, muesli, nuts, seeds, dried berries and other goodness. Elisabeth outlined the basic principles of bread making, including which are the best ingredients to use and the tricks of kneading the dough (you MUST do it for at least ten minutes).

Our yoga loaves prove under their shower caps
Our yoga loaves prove under their shower caps

Then it was time to pop shower caps over our loaf tins (yes, shower caps to help them prove), before starting the first yoga session.

Tracey took us through a fantastic vinyasa flow class, while working really hard to ensure that all levels of yoga were catered for. There were plenty of adjustments for those people with knee injuries and so on, while also giving advanced options to those of us who’ve being doing yoga for a while. Tracy kept weaving in the baking theme, even giving some of the poses special bread-related names. (The ‘touch-your-buns’ pose sticks in the mind – just use your imagination!)

After 90 minutes of invigorating yoga we were treated to a homemade green juice, consisting of pineapple, mint, lime and kale (delicious) and Elisabeth’s toasted yoga loaf with lashings of real butter. Yum.

After this fortifying snack, it was aprons back on and we made a basic white loaf (more kneading, my wrists and shoulders were starting to ache at this point), which Elisabeth taught us how to plait and shape. I’ve tried to plait bread in the past and it just turned into a dense breadstick, but Elisabeth showed us the knack to keep the bread’s shape and consistency. I’m already looking forward to attempting a plaited garland loaf for Christmas.

Then it was time for a well-deserved lunch. Elisabeth treated us to homemade bread, quinoa and winter vegetable soup and a selection of salads and vegetable side dishes. It was absolutely scrummy, I can see why there is such a long waiting list for one Mile Bakery Delivery slots. But one of the nicest things about lunch was the opportunity to chat to the other people on the workshop. They were such a mixed and lovely bunch and really made the day.

It was the first time Elisabeth had ever cooked in the venue and she told us there were some teething problems with the oven, but we barely noticed a thing.

Hearty quinoa and winter vegetable soup with fresh bread
Hearty quinoa and winter vegetable soup with fresh bread

After lunch it was time to shape both loaves ready for baking while Tracy took us through another 45 minute yoga session. This was much less dynamic than the morning session. Tracey concentrated on mainly sitting and lying poses, with a focus on exercises to stretch our wrists, shoulders and backs, all of which had been working hard kneading and shaping that dough. As we went through the session, the dark evening drew in and a fantastic smell of baking started to drift into the room, it was really atmospheric.

When we finished the session we came out to the reception area and I was delighted to see my two loaves sitting proudly there. I couldn’t have been more chuffed!

The day finished with a gin cocktail with roasted plums and vanilla sugar (a non alcoholic ‘mocktail’ version was also offered, which no-one wanted!) and we sat down for a final chat and a toast to Tracey and Elisabeth for a wonderful day.

Proudly displaying my Stretch and Knead yoga loaf!
Proudly displaying my Stretch and Knead yoga loaf!

The bread went down really well when I got home (the aching muscles from the yoga lasted longer than the bread!) The workshop has really boosted my confidence with bread-making and I can’t wait to try making the yoga loaf at home myself.

The next Stretch + Knead workshop will be held on December 13th, at The Steiner School, Cardiff.  The day, including all ingredients, food and drink, costs £125 per person. Aprons and all yoga equipment is provided.

Stretch + knead will also be running weekend retreats next year.

For more information visit stretchandknead.wordpress.com or email stretchandknead@gmail.com

I was lucky enough to be invited to try the Stretch + Knead workshop for free.

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2 thoughts on “Stretch and Knead – yoga and baking

  1. Hungry City Hippy November 20, 2014 / 5:21 am

    Ah sad to have missed you! I’m going to the December class, I can’t wait after reading that :)))

  2. CrandonRuns November 20, 2014 / 9:17 am

    Bread, yoga, nice people AND gin? This sounds like a perfect day! Can’t wait to try your homemade bread! x

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