Cookery school vouchers and an explanatory leaflet

Our cookery school vouchers sell so well that we often forget to promote them, but not at this time of year!

  • Available in any denomination, they now last for at least two years so there’s plenty of time to redeem them.
  • They can be put towards any of the classes we offer in whole or in part payment – you don’t need to cover the whole cost.
  • You are sent a PDF to print out and pop in a gift card.

Please consider giving the gift of a future food learning experience this Winterval by visiting this page!

(If you’ve given or received a voucher in the last year, don’t worry, we’ll automatically be extending the expiry date by 12 months).

The Loaf cookery school leaflet

We produced a new leaflet this year detailing what we offer at our cookery school. You can pick one up in the bakery shop or download this PDF, which isn’t as nice as the lovely textured paper stock Joseph at The Holodeck chose for us, but is a bit more convenient if you’re not actually in Stirchley.

For all your baking needs…

Photos of bannetons, a peel and a baking tin

We sell all the equipment you need to bake bread in your own home, from proving baskets to bread tins to wooden peels. See our equipment range.

Three bags of heritage grain flour

Along with flour you’d expect to find in a bakery, we sell a range of heritage grains. These varieties are often called “ancient” as they were in use thousands of years ago, before wheat was commodified into the strain grown around the world today. They are great for a baker looking for a new challenge as they behave in subtly different ways and have unique flavours. Look for Einkorn, Khorasan, Emmer and Spelt on the shelves in our shop.

Two books from the Real Bread Campaign

We have two books in stock from the Real Bread Campaign. Slow Dough Real Bread is chock-full of recipes from real bread bakers across the country, while Knead To Know More has practical advice for starting your own microbakery, whether it’s from your kitchen or something like Loaf. The more bakeries the better!

We ran our first Heritage Grain class on Saturday

Loaf’s Heritage Grain class has been in development for what seems like forever. After a year of planning it was due to run just as the pandemic hit. Then, while the cookery school was closed, we got deeper and deeper into the subject and decided to re-do it from scratch. Research trips to farms and conferences, and conversations with millers and suppliers, saw us trying a wider variety of wheats in the bakery and developing a hands-on understanding of what works and why. Over the last six months the bakers finessed their experiments into a coherent, teachable class, and on Saturday Rachel and Neil finally delivered it for the first time. Phew!

Running a class for the first time is always nerve-racking but we’re happy to say everyone enjoyed themselves and got a lot out of it. Heritage Grain will be run quarterly with the next class due in June. Sign up here to be notified as soon as the date is announced.

Books for bakers

We’re often asked for book recommendations, either as gifts or as a follow-up from doing one of our classes, so here’s four that Rachel often suggests from our cookery school library. When she’s not in the bakery Rach leads on the Simply Sourdough class and can often be found making cakes on the sweets shift.

Sourdough Culture: A History of Bread Making from Ancient to Modern Bakers
Reading more like a novel, this is a deep dive into the origins of sourdough. It’s told from the perspective of environmental science professor Eric Pallant who’s researching the the history and origins of starters, the different cultures and countries, and what they made.

Modern Sourdough: Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Margot Bakery
The main recommendation given to people on the Simply Sourdough class, this takes sourdough baking far beyond loaves of bread, taking in cakes, buns and savoury bakes.

Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking.
This book will have you making things at home that you wouldn’t have thought possible. More an advanced book, this is perfect for the more advanced baker who wants to hone their skills.

100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More
If you want to make brilliant sweet bakes at home, this book is full of comprehensive, easy to understand recipes that will take your baking to the next level.

All links go to who share profits with independent retailers. We like to support The Bookshop on the Green in Bournville.

Return of the handmade pasta

One of our first-ever evening classes involved making fresh pasta, and then eating the results. Phil took over running it from Tom but when Phil left us in 2021 we were a little too preoccupied with pandemic recovery to do a proper handover. So when the cookery school returned after lockdown we prioritised the classes we knew we could run, but it was always our intention to bring handmade fresh pasta back.

Martha ladling a large clump of pasta over a pot in the Loaf cookery school.

The main driver has been Martha and Molly’s continued interest in Italian food. Molly has stayed in touch with ex-Loafer Valentina — who you’ll remember brought the authenticity to our Ragu Time pop-up in 2021 — and has visited her in Italy where much food was made and consumed. Suffice to say, it was not if but when this course would return.

Val was back in Birmingham over our winter break and the three of them, plus fellow Loafer Sarah, took over the cookery school to try out some recipes and ponder how best to teach them.

To begin with, Val taught her grandma’s way to make tortellini, filled with spinach and ricotta.

Some freshly made tortellini shells on a wooden kitchen surface, waiting to be cooked.

Val’s partner Tommaso lent his carbonara recipe made with guanciale from a recent meat curing class at Loaf.

A serving of carbonara

Finally, there was puttanesca, a spicy tomato sauce with anchovies, capers and olives. This had been taught on our class from the beginning and Molly was keen to bring back her favourite dish. It’s an affordable sauce that goes a long way but still gives a lot of punchy flavours.

A serving of Puttancesca

For the pasta itself they experimented with different mixes of flours and not just the usual Tipo 00. They were especially keen to work with some of the heritage flours Loaf has been using in the bakery.

Two different blends of pasta drying on a rack. One is made with white flour, the other a wholemeal mix.

Now, we just have to shape this into the perfect evening class, which won’t be hard, and it should be on sale in the next couple of months. If you’d like to be alerted as soon as classes go on sale, fill in this form.

All photos by Molly from the session in January 2023.

Meet Haseen Muthalali, the dosa teacher

Following on from our interview with Loaf founder Tom Baker last week, we thought we’d get a bit more personal with all our cookery school teachers. Next up is Haseen Muthalali of Pop-up Dosa. Haseen has been running Dosa and Thaali classes with us pretty much since we opened on the high street a decade ago, bringing the cuisine of his native state of Kerala in southern India to the tables of Birmingham.

Can you tell us a bit about growing up in Kerala and learning these recipes?

Growing up in Kerala I was always fascinated with food and our various complex cooking methods. As a child, I always liked to hang around the kitchen and was just fascinated to watch the food be prepared. The different smells and fragrances of all the spices and how they fused together always attracted my interest.

Kerala literally means ‘land of coconuts’ and is on the southwestern coastal tip of India. So seafood, coconut, but also all the spices that make our cuisine really unique can be found here. Also, we have Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities each with their own special dishes. It’s such a unique part of the world, and the diversity and availability of spices and ingredients are reflected in the food.

What is Pop-up Dosa? How did that start?

I started Pop-up Dosa in Kings Heath, Birmingham as a supper club about 10 years ago. I made home-style dosa — a thin pancake made of rice and dahl — masala potatoes and chutneys. It’s a classic Kerala dish we eat at almost any time of day. It was a great success and we soon were doing streetfood events and kitchen takeovers at local cafes.

A Thaali dish

How did you first get involved with Loaf?

Tom Baker came to one of the early supper clubs and we discussed the idea of a class at Loaf. I would not be surprised if I am the only Kerala-born and raised person in the UK to teach Kerala cuisine in a cookery school.

What’s the most rewarding thing for you about teaching?

I love sharing Kerala cuisine with people, both those who have never had it before and those who want to make the foods they ate on a trip there. Also, the food is naturally healthy, with lots of veg and lentils. It gives me extreme satisfaction and joy to see participants enjoying nourishing food with no compromise on taste and authenticity. I make sure participants learn in a very hands-on way, ensuring they remember how to make the recipes at home easily.

Haseen Muthalali serving up

Can you tell us a bit more about a particular dish?

I have a hard time choosing just one dish! But I decided to teach how to make Dosa because it’s so popular and well-known. I teach how to make it with the spiced potato and vegetable stuffing (called masala), and also with sambaar, which is a soup-like vegetable curry that you dip the dosa into. Then we make the different chutneys to accompany it.

Dosa classes were selling out and seeing the enthusiasm and interest I decided to add a Thaali course involving multiple Kerala vegetable dishes. And we are soon starting a course making a coconut milk crepe called Appom with Kerala vegetables and seafood. But more about that later!

Thanks Haseen! We run each Kerala cookery class once a month throughout the year. You can book the current dates on our website or sign up to be alerted when new dates are released.

Photos by Jack Spicer Adams

Tom Baker returns to Loaf with Wholegrain Baking

As you may know, Loaf was founded in 2009 in Tom and Jane Baker’s kitchen, just up the road from our current home. A number of our customers (and at least two of our staff) were taught to bake there and the current Loaf teaching method — our pedagogy, if you like — can be traced to those early classes.

So it’s with great pleasure that we can announce Wholegrain Baking with Tom Baker, a new masterclass running approximately three times a year, and starting on Saturday 18th February.

We thought it would be nice to ask Tom what’s brought him back to Stirchley and to say a bit more about what the class will cover, besides making great bread.

What’s brought you back to Loaf?

Teaching was a big part of my role at Loaf, and the cookery school was the first thing I started. I never intended to start a bakery too, that just kind of happened! Anyway, since launching Rye and Roses Bakery, teaching hasn’t been part of my life, and over the last couple of years I have started to miss it.

I really enjoyed coming back to Stirchley for the Loaf 10-years-on-the-high-street anniversary in September. It was a great opportunity to formulate some plans to come back — to get back to teaching, to share some of my experiences of starting a bakery with a strong focus on wholemeal baking, and on a selfish level, to reconnect with my Stirchley family and visit some of the great places that have sprung up since we left.

Can you tell us more about bringing wheat growing back to the Dyfi valley?

Within a few weeks of moving to Machynlleth, we went to a Welsh-language folk gig in a local café (a very typical experience here!), and were introduced to a few other people who had an interest in doing some small-scale grain growing. We formed a loose collective and started a trial quarter-acre patch of wheat on one of the member’s land, doing everything by vintage tractor (ploughing), by horse (harrowing), or by hand (sowing).

Over the first couple of seasons we got a local vintage machinery club involved and invited some local farmers to the ploughing, harvesting, or threshing days. In 2020 one of them was inspired enough to go back to his farm and plough three acres for wheat. Over the last two seasons he’s provided almost all the wholemeal flour we use at Rye and Roses. The collective still runs some experiments at a small scale but wheat for the bakery is grown on two local farms.

Tom teaching one of the first bread classes at Loaf’s cookery school.
Tom teaching one of the first bread classes at Loaf’s cookery school.

Your new class will touch on some of the broader economic and political issues around bread. What are some of these?

Why is local grain often much more expensive than commodity grain? When white flour is produced, what happens to all the discarded other parts of the grain? With white flour being so cheap, who can possibly benefit? What is the impact on the environment of producing cheap commodity grain?

Food politics is something that has always fascinated me and something that we all subconsciously choose to either address or ignore at least three times a day. Bread is symbolic for much of the politics that surrounds food and by taking a closer look at a relatively short supply chain of seed — to farm, to mill, to baker — we can get to the heart of some of the bigger political issues that effect the food industry.

How does this fit into the ‘Tom Baker story’?

Before I started Loaf I was a nutritionist for the NHS, promoting healthy eating and good nutrition throughout Birmingham. Starting Loaf was in many ways a continuation of this mission for me, and this new course is yet another chapter in that story. I’m excited to be coming back to Stirchley a few times a year, and sharing some of my passions and experiences again.

Thanks Tom!

A field of freshly harvested wheat collected into bundles.
Harvest in Machynlleth.

Baking surgery at Stirchley Market

Way back in 2010, before we had a shop on the high street, Loaf was a founding smallholder at Stirchley Community Market. The market had a pandemic hiatus but is returning on Saturday 3rd December from 10am-3pm, and we’ll be there!

We’ll have a selection of baked goods for sale and Neil, one of our baking tutors, will be on hand to answer any questions you have about your home bread-making. Whether you’ve done a class with us or not, we’ll be happy to help for no charge — though we will be taking donations for the food bank, hint hint!

As promoters of real bread we’re always happy to give help and advice, but a busy shop is not always the best place. So come along to our first ‘bread surgery’ where there’ll be plenty of time to get some tips.

If you’re not familiar with Stirchley Market, it’s a non-profit project completely run by volunteers and is one of the seeds of Stirchley’s current blossoming, with many independents finding their feet there. We’re delighted to see it back and hope you’ll go check it out.

Ten years on the high street

On September 8th 2012, Tom Baker realised his dream of opening a community bakery on Stirchley High Street. Three years after starting Loaf in his kitchen, and with investment from customers who received their interest in bread, the doors of 1421 Pershore Road were opened to the public.

We’re marking this with a few special things over the month, starting with…

Free birthday cake!

Molly is making a special birthday cake that will be given away to the first 30 customers through the door on Thursday 8th.

Treasure hunt!

Rachel’s been hiding bread vouchers around Stirchley and releasing clues on our Instagram Stories. The hunt ends on Sunday and vouchers can be redeemed for a delicious loaf.

New totes and tees!

Molly’s been hard at work on new designs and the first batch will be on sale very soon. Look out for them at the…


We’re taking over the rear of Attic Brew this Sunday afternoon for a big shindig. Founders Tom and Jane Baker will be there along with other Loaf alumni, and you’re all welcome!

The fun starts at 3pm with kids welcome until 6pm. We’ll then carry on until closing. Attic is on Mary Vale Road by the canal bridge on the Stirchley side.

We’re putting together a slideshow of photos from the last decade and would love to include any you might have of bread and buns you bought, a course you went on, a pop-up takeaway — anything that brings a smile!

Come to our birthday party!

September marks 10 years since Loaf opened on Stirchley High Street and we’re having a big party to mark the occasion. If you’ve played a part in making Loaf what it is today, whether that’s as a customer, supplier, original investor or supportive friend, we’d love to see you.

On Sunday 11th September we’re taking over the rear of Attic Brew Co on Mary Vale Road, near the railway station bridge, from 3pm until closing. Kids are welcome until 6pm.

We will be putting together a slideshow of photos and memories from the last decade, along with our plans for the decades to come. If you have any nice pics, we’d love to share them. Please upload them here or send by email.

Hope to see you all there!

BAB Lab 2022 – bio art at Loaf

Laurie Ramsell is an artist who works with biological material. Until recently he was a Stirchley resident and became a good friend of Loaf. So when he approached us to be part of his new project we were intrigued and quickly agreed.

BAB Lab 2022 is a series of bio art workshops and talks taking place in Birmingham this August. They will focus on living materials: yeast, flora, clay, fungi, and the human body. The yeast workshop takes place at Loaf and will be our the first time teaching breadmaking as an artistic pursuit!

Laurie is also bringing in practitioners to talk about creative brewing and, most excitingly, using yeast to develop photographic images by selectively exposing them to UV light. You can see some examples of ‘yeastograms’ here.

We’ll have more to share about this nearer the time, but it’s dead exciting. Maybe we’ll be adding yeast art to our courses on offer in the future!

More about BAB Lab.

Taking bread to Baskerville

Baskerville School in Harborne is a day and residential secondary school for students on the autism spectrum. It’s a great school with wonderful staff working with some amazing kids.

They got in touch with us earlier in the year about taking a student on work experience for a week or so. One of their goals is preparing their students for life after school, so getting experience of the wild and weird world of work is key.

Unfortunately we haven’t been able to take placements due to the pandemic. We plan to start again soon, but in the meanwhile were keen to get involved in whatever way we could.

We’ve been thinking a lot about how to make our cookery school more accessible, bringing our knowledge to more than just those who can afford it. We’ve also been thinking about how we can share what we know about the business of bread, from sourcing the grain to running a bakery. We’re always happy to pass on advice ad hoc but something more sustainable and long-term is the goal.

Since we opened we’ve had groups from Stirchley Primary School visit the bakery to make a big mess with dough – sorry, to learn how bread is made – and we’re looking forward to starting that again next year. We’re now thinking that this piece of “community engagement” could become part of our actual business, working with teachers to bring our classes into schools on a professional basis. We know we can do it – we just need a toe in the door.

So while we couldn’t take placements from Baskerville, we could bring the bakery to them for a morning. So last Thursday Martha took a sack of flour to Baskerville’s kitchen classroom for a four-hour workshop.

Martha started the session by talking about how bread is made from flour, yeast, salt, water and time. She also discussed how we manage making hundreds of loaves in a bakery by working as a team, from mixing the dough to selling to the customers.

They then had a go at mixing their own dough, savoury and sweet. A pizza was made from scratch along with bread rolls and cinnamon buns. One of the students was determined to master baguettes with amazing results.

And then, of course, they ate everything as a group – the best part of any cookery class!

Next Thursday the group will be visiting us for an hour to see what a busy bakery is like and what other jobs go on behind the scenes. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be eating bread made by Baskerville alumni.

This is certainly something we intend to do again, both at Baskerville and at other schools in Birmingham. If you’re a teacher interested in Loaf visiting you, or know how we can best contact schools, please do get in touch.

While we got a warm glow and the sense of a job well done, this was incredibly valuable for the students. There’s only so much the Baskerville staff can do in the school environment. Short work placements, often for a week or so, help students develop an understanding of their potential place in a world that doesn’t always make sense to them.

Taking an autistic student placement can be a bit daunting for a business, especially if you have no experience with the neurodiverse, but Baskerville is a very supportive school and they’ll be with you all the way. And trust us, these are great kids.

Julie Heidarinia is the works skills coach at Baskerville who looks after placements and you can contact her here.

Return of the Cookery School

It feels really good to be bringing back our classes. Loaf started as a cookery school with a bakery attached. So shutting down that part of the business really felt like losing our soul. 

But it had to be done. Beyond the basic issues of running anything in the pandemic, our classes are a social occasion. You learn to make the food together and sit around a table to enjoy it together. The learning comes as much from the informal conversations as the course notes. We could have delivered the content distanced in masks or remotely but it would have been a pale shadow. So no half measures. Put it in hibernation ‘til it’s safe to do it properly again. 

Of course we are still in a global pandemic. It is a confusing time in the UK. It seems like half the country has returned to normality while the other half is still terrified of touching door handles. In the absence of coherent government guidance we’re playing it safe and sticking with our lockdown procedures for the rest of the year. But we’ve also had time to think clearly about our building and how safe it is. 

As a commercial kitchen environment we are blessed with industrial-level ventilation. The oven sits in the centre of the building with a large extractor which pulls air through all the rooms and out the roof. Similarly the cookery school has three big extractors over the hobs. We’re confident that the air is exchanged frequently even with the doors closed. 

Similarly, while surface transmission is not as big a danger as originally thought, the nature of our business means we clean and sterilise everything we use as we go.

Combined with vaccinations and people wearing masks responsibly, we feel our cookery school is certainly safer than most places, both for us and for you. 

Of course many will disagree, and that’s fine. It’s a confusing time. No one is right. But this is what we’ve decided to do. 

What’s new?

We’ve gone through all the courses this summer and made some changes. Most are small improvements and iterations, but three are worth noting here. 

Firstly, we’re sorry to say Steve Rossiter will no longer be teaching. He needs to focus on bringing his butchery business out of the pandemic and doesn’t have the time or capacity. As such our Pork Butchery and Charcuterie class is now Sausage and Charcuterie as Lap-fai Lee extends his half into an all-day sausage-making masterclass. If you enjoyed our German sausage takeaway last December, you’ll know how good he is. And now you can be too! 

Secondly, the Japan course now just focuses on Sushi and has been renamed accordingly. Rather than survey a whole country in one evening, you’ll now master a range of sushi culminating in a delicious meal. 

Finally, Heritage Grains was a brand new class that we barely had a chance to run before the pandemic. Over the last year we’ve learned a lot more and are on the cusp of working directly with small wheat farmers and mills. We want this course to reflect that so we’re taking a few months to refine it. 

Gift vouchers

All vouchers that expired during the pandemic have been extended until the end of 2022. If you can’t find your voucher code, or don’t think you received one for a cancelled class, or if the website won’t accept it, please email us and we’ll make things right. 

A new waiting list system

Our classes can get very popular and sell out quickly, which is a nice problem to have. We are working on long-term plans to increase capacity without reducing quality, but in the meanwhile we’ve overhauled our waiting list system.

If a course is sold out or you can’t make the dates, please fill out this form. We’ll then email you when we have new dates or if there are cancellations.

This is not a marketing list. We will keep your details for up to six months and then delete them.  

Cookery school re-opening plan

Closing down our cookery school last April was like amputating half of Loaf, and not just financially. Teaching bread making and cookery skills is a fundamental part of what we do here so to lose that was a really big deal.

Because of its importance we’ve been reluctant to bring it back piecemeal. We’re proud of how we run the school and realised that teaching in a Covid-safe way would not allow us to reach the standards we demand of ourselves.

Now, with vaccination levels increasing and restrictions lifted we’re ready to plan for re-opening.

Here are the headlines.

The full cookery school, with all classes, will be running from January 2022.

These classes will be on sale from late October 2021.

All vouchers that expired, or were purchased, during the pandemic will be extended and remain valid through to 2023.

To prepare for the re-opening we will be running a number of smaller-capacity bread classes in the autumn. These will be initially offered directly to those who have graciously and patiently held on to their tickets from last spring, and then opened up to others should there be spaces. We won’t be taking reservations – please watch the weekly newsletter for announcements.

You probably have questions as to why we’re doing it this way. Maybe we can answer them here…

Why not fully re-open sooner?

Having shut down the school so completely it’s going to take a while to get things back online, from deep-cleaning to equipment maintenance. We also need to transition our brains from bakery mode back into teaching mode.

While we want to think positively, we are still in a pandemic. The situation could change and we could find ourselves in another lockdown this autumn. If so, we don’t want to invest time and effort only to cancel everything.

Until the school is running smoothly again our only income is the bakery. As government furlough support is phased out we need to maintain our cashflow, which slows down other activities.

Why January?

The run-up to Christmas is an important season in the bakery and we usually reduce classes to concentrate on the shop. After a tough year it’s more important that ever we focus on this period.

Why only bread courses this autumn?

The bread courses are taught by Loaf staff. Not having to hire external tutors means we can avoid a significant loss when running them safely in smaller groups.

Will you be offering any new classes?

Our current plan is to offer the same classes as pre-pandemic, as listed on the website, though we will be refreshing them from top to bottom. So if you bought a voucher expecting a specific class, you should be able to do it by next spring. We do have big plans for the cookery school in 2023 so watch this space!

2022 is a bit too long a wait. Can I get a refund on my voucher?

Of course. Please email us your details and we’ll sort it out right away.

Massive caveat!

A lot can happen in the next six months. We are being cautiously optimistic but if we need to change any of the above, we’ll communicate it via the newsletter and on this website.

Cookery School Dates

All our course until the end of the year are on our website using the handy Cookery School button.

We will be adding more dates for the new year next month….just in time for Shhhhhh Christmas presents. Speaking of which we also do Gift Vouchers for such an occasion!

Bread Courses

Our flagship Back to Basics class with Martha and Gordon is running fortnightly and Simply Sourdough, reworked from scratch by sourdough experts Rachel and Phil, gets regular from November.

But it’s not all loaves. Neil’s Viennoiserie class and Lap’s Macarons satisfy the sweet tooth while Phil will get you making fresh pasta by hand.

East Asian Cookery

Long-time Loaf collaborator Lap-Fai Lee demystifies Asian cuisine with delicious recipes you can do at home. These evening classes are enlightening, fun and delicious!

Indian Cuisine

Haseen from Pop up Dosa runs two evening classes at Loaf showing you how to make delicious Thaali and Dosa, and then eating it!


Our Masterclasses bring you back in touch with your food understanding where it comes from and how to prepare it. Seafood with Lap-Fai Lee will take the fear out of fishmongers, while Butchery, in collaboration with Rossiters of Bournville, will work through almost every part of the a pig.