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Build and Bake

Build and Bake is our clay oven baking course where you'll learn how to build a clay oven and bake incredible bread, during a day of practical and culinary craft at the River Cottage Cookery School.

Wood-fired ovens are an integral part of the River Cottage kitchen – and with a little knowledge and a lot of elbow grease, they can transform your home cooking too. On our one-day Build and Bake course, Steve Lamb and the team will guide you through the process of building your own clay oven, and teach you how to use it for delicious results.

Be prepared to get your hands dirty on this interactive clay oven baking course because you’ll dig the mud, mould the clay and make your artisan bread dough from scratch. There will be plenty to savour along the way, including a hearty lunch and beautiful views of the Devon countryside around River Cottage HQ.

Your day

09:30 - 17:00

  • Arrive at River Cottage

    You’ll be met at the top of the hill at 9.30am and begin your River Cottage experience with a 10-15 minute walk through the wonderful pathways down to the farm, enabling you to really soak up the views of the valley.

  • Make yourself at home

    You will meet your host and start the day with tea, coffee and treats fresh from the kitchen.

  • Practical session one

    We’ll begin by taking you on a short walk to find and dig clay, explaining consistency, ratios and where to source it. Next we will mix the building materials and create a ‘former’ out of sand.

  • Practical session two

    The first food lesson of the day, you’ll learn how to make a classic bread dough for your clay ovens.

  • Practical session three

    Outside, you’ll learn how to build the walls of the clay oven.

  • Practical session four

    Back in the kitchen you’ll make pizza with tasty local and seasonal toppings, ready to eat for your lunch.

  • Lunch

    Next it’ll be time to refuel with lunch, which will include your homemade pizzas and local, seasonal fare prepared by the River Cottage chefs.

  • Practical session five

    After lunch you’ll have fun knocking back the bread dough, shaping it into loaves and leaving it to prove while you finish constructing your oven.

  • Practical session six

    Next we’ll complete the clay oven by building a brick archway, insulating the walls and hollowing out the inside.

  • Practical session seven

    Next it’ll be time to bake your delicious homemade loaves.

  • Departure

    You’ll have time to marvel at the scent of freshly baked loaves, before heading back up the hill with your own creation, still warm from the oven!

Please note: This is a guide to the activities that will make up your course at River Cottage. This is by no means set in stone and will depend on seasonal availability.

On occasion cookery schools will use equipment that includes induction hobs. It is recommended that people with pace makers should not work on these units. If you are concerned or would like to check whether or not induction hobs will be used on the course you are interested in, please call us on 01297 630302.

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Further information...

This course is run from River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon borders. Full address details of HQ will be provided once you have booked.

We are a licensed venue. We have a wide selection of the finest organic wines available to purchase.

Stay in our famous Farmhouse, click here. For other local accommodation click here.

We would advise that this course is only really suitable for 12 years of age and upwards. Under 16s must be accompanied by a paying adult. We put these guidelines in place for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of all our guests.

Sorry, we’re afraid this course is not suitable for those with coeliac disease or wheat intolerances. However we do run Gluten Free Cookery courses.

With many of our courses there are often treats and leftovers to take away with you. In our quest to be more sustainable we are encouraging guests to bring their own containers and bags to transport their produce home. Details of what is required for each course will be included in booking emails.

  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • Food and Travel Magazine 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2018