I seem to have an insatiable appetite for sourdough. Since learning to make my own earlier this year with Vanessa Kimbell, the mention of sweet sourdough seemed too good to resist. When I found out that the tutor for the course was Dan Lepard I was champing at the bit to be able to learn more. Unfortunately I couldn't commit to the course date, and I sat wistfully looking at my well-used copy of Short and Sweet. Thanks for the wonder of Twitter; a last minute opportunity for a place on the course became available. My commitments had changed and I was free for the day so I sent off a tweet to enter....
The upshot was a wonderful day where I learnt so much. The kitchen at Juniper and Rose is so welcoming. Vanessa has created an environment that lets you feel part of the house. There is none of the uneasiness of being in a more formal kitchen environment.
|There is another Sweet Sourdough Course on the 1st February 2014.|
As Dan introduced his plan for the day, Vanessa prepared our lunch, with amazing smells wafting around us. The recipes had been carefully selected for us, and with the lovely (and very well qualified) Maureen assisting on the weighing and measuring we were able to concentrate on the tips and techniques from Dan without having to worry about watching the scales.
Being shown how to work the bread and to understand the texture and consistency of a working dough is an invaluable experience and one that is so hard to gain from reading or even watching on TV. My confidence soared as Dan gently corrected my technique and I could immediately understand the difference that it was making to my handling of the dough. Although a confident cake maker, I consider myself a newbie to bread making and not once did I feel daunted or overwhelmed by anything that was mentioned. Dan answered any question we had – not just on bread making but on a whole range of baking topics. He was so full of enthusiasm and passionate on this subject that I have been inspired to follow up the day with learning about different flours. Of particular interest was how he explained the science behind dough, this was not technical at all and even novice baker like me suddenly had a light bulb moment in understanding what was actually happening when I was allowing bread to prove.
One of the highlights of the day was the time spent chatting with Dan over coffee during a proving break. He showed genuine interest in our own baking experiences that we were able to share tips (and photos) of our successes and discuss what might have happened for the failures. The other by-product of day like this is the friends that you make – fellow twitter buddies to share your baking triumphs and woes with. I have found that fellow classmates are so generous with their tips and recipes. By the end of the day we had all made three recipes. It was sad to leave the kitchen with our bundle of chocolate sourdough cake, sweet grape focaccia and pumpkin and raisin sourdough loaf but I went away inspired and enthused about what I could make.
Footnote: The chocolate sourdough cake has already become a firm family favourite and we have experimented with several toppings – chocolate orange seems to win at the moment!
There is another Sweet Sourdough Course on the 1st February 2014.