16 June 2009

great baking from Australia: Dan Lepard sourdough masterclass

sourdough bread & herb flatbread

Inspiration for my post title from here

On Friday, I attended Dan Lepard's sourdough masterclass, run from Cookery School, in Little Portland Street, London (not Australia).

A beautiful fresh morning greeted me outside the doors at 09:00, always a good start to any day, ordinary or otherwise.
I'm feeling a bit nervous for some strange reason, I haven't done anything like this before, so maybe I'm worried about being the straggler in the class. Who knows.

Down into the crisp, clean, modern classroom with another student called Francesca from Sicily, who is to be my baking buddy during the day (I just wish I'd got her email address now). We get along so well.
But even more, we are welcomed with such warmth by our hosts Dan & David, my trepidation disappears in a wisp. I admire that comfort quality in people.

& then a fellow blogger Linda arrives too, from with knife and fork

There are 9 of us, & we're making 2 styled loaves of breads today, Dan is here making 3 of the flatbread focaccia ready for our luncheon.
So we get off to a flying start by setting our doughs up & proving, coupled seamlessly with expert tuition by Dan.

Our ingredients are weighed and made for us - which has proved to me how important prep and order is in bread baking, indeed in cooking.

and we work with the focaccia first, getting the shape in order, & it's flavoured toppings - aromatic fresh rosemary
with Maldon sea salt

Our deliciously tempting breads are baked for us, & everyone there has made a great success of theirs.

& we make progress on with our second sourdough loaf.

We shape, & are shown the technique needed to wrap & prove our bread loaves in floured linen, thick canvas that I would normally use for painting.
Once risen, one by one, we are invited to slash the bread for it's finishing design before baking

One - two - three gashes!

Dan remarked "you've done this before" ........... you've noticed ........ but I didn't want to brag, oh no.

In the background there is the gentle hum of activity from the opposite side of the room over to where the ovens are. Our lunch is being prepared for us:
Inclusive of Dan's very own 1 of 3 focaccia.

It's freshly cut here in front of us, before being lifted to our dining table.
Francesca declares it to be "The Best!" - she should know, her grandmother was the local village baker back home in Sicily.

That luncheon as I remember:
- a rich meaty medium coarse pate
- another creamed smoked mackerel pate
- a fresh leaf, tomato & vegetable salad with a tangy vinaigrette
- gherkins
- plus a generous cheese plate & red & white wine at table
the latter are perfect company for Dan's noticeably acid sourdough loaf

After easy, comfortable talking and eating, my name is called out from the kitchen.
"Gill". That's my focaccia bread ready.

Louisa takes a photo for me using my own camera, a nice record for me of my day.

and now we move on to shaping bread. This, I just cannot get on my own, in my isolated home kitchen.
So I'm pretty keen to pay extra double attention.
With pseudo dough - not edible - we get feeling and shaping & moving that dough
- baguettes - shaped twists - bread rolls - batons with tapered ends that are designed to crisp & burn

- & a rather impressive leaf baton. That's one for dinner parties I reckon:

It's important to be aware of the seam line as you're working.

And now it's coming up for 5pm, and a close to the masterclass.
My day's baking with the best bread maker has come to an end. Actually, I wouldn't half mind doing it all over again.

Nothing is rushed as one by one we take our leave, coupled with a pleasant chat at the end of the day, and I'm given a "goody bag". More flour than I can carry, and baking kit with a nifty little bread scraping tool inside.

I've already got the Handmade Loaf, but I see a book I've not bought, Cook Simply Everything, an all rounder of a cookbook from several chef experts combined, with those contributions from Dan re. breads & batters starting at page 341. It's a big book.

So I ask Dan to sign it please.

& then I must leave the warmth of the pro-kitchen, out into the London Street to start on my journey to tell my husband Tony absolutely everything I now know about sourdough bread making.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Cookery School at Little Portland Street: http://www.cookeryschool.co.uk/
Dan Lepard's website: http://www.danlepard.com/index.htm
The Handmade Loaf book: http://www.danlepard.com/content/pages/books.htm


Unknown said...

What a fabulous day that must have been Gill! The focaccia looks delish and I'd love to know how to make the sourdough bread. You are looking wonderful in your picture holding your fougasse!

Debs @ DKC said...

Glad you had such a great day Gill. I'm loving that sourdough bread, cut me a slice please!

Lucinda said...

Wonderful Gill! I'm so glad that it was such a success and both you and your bread look terrific.

Gill the Painter said...

Why, hello Elisa
Thank you for the comments about my picture ............... & they say the camera doesn't lie, eh!
It was great to see you afterwards too.

Hi Debs
I'd love to cut you a slice of sourdough & transform it into tomato bread, just like some like it over there in Spain.

Gill the Painter said...

Hello Lucinda, and thank you.
It's such a perfect way to spend a day, I'd do it again happily & recommend it to everyone.

Odette said...

Great post, Gill, and great masterclass, too, by the looks of it. I'm a huge Dan fan, as you know!

Gill the Painter said...

Quite so Odette.
You have great taste.

Anne said...

The breads look delicious Gill, so glad you enjoyed the class and am now very jealous! Will have to sweet talk Santa this year I think!

Gill the Painter said...

Hi Anne.
It's wonderful. I loved every moment of it.

They are so few and far between (2 maybe 3 or so a year), but etch it in the back of your mind to get there if you can.

Let's hope you're a good little girl for the rest of the year, and Santa grants your wish!

Zeb said...

Great post Gill! I did a class last September and it was very sociable and I learnt a lot, though we didn't do the bread in the pot. Can I ask, does the pot go in the oven cold? And do you take the lid off to brown the top towards the end or does the whole thing happen under the lid? And 3rd time lucky where did you get your pot? I looked a while ago and didn't know what sort to get, all the ones in JL seemed too low.

Gill the Painter said...

Hi Zeb. It's great to hear from a fellow DL workshopper!

I've learned heaps from my day and am using it like a good 'un.

That pot?
Never heard of it, but it's a Horwood 162, cost £25, you can locate local shops here (plenty where you live): http://www.horwood.co.uk/stockist.aspx

One thing, the pot has changed to a light gold colour after one use, but I don't mind that one bit.
& I needed a pasta pot anyway, I've been using my pressure cooker for years!

The pot goes into the hot oven for 5 mins beforehand, no need for any water, then the bread goes in for 20mins, lid on first.

Then you take the lid off for 15mins after that & it browns top and bottom.

I thought about putting the bread on the bars for 5 mins, but it doesn't need any more finishing off.

Naomi Knill said...

I can tell you had a wonderful day! I only wish I'd had chance to talk to Dan some mroe at the Nom Nom Nom competition a few weeks back... Bread making and cheese making are two things I'd love to spend more ime learning about sometime on the not too distant future.

Gill the Painter said...

Hi Naomi.
It's great to see you here. I'd certainly recommend starting some leaven.

It took my bread making on instantly!

goodshoeday said...

Hi Gill

Just spotted your write up of the wonderful class we were on in June. Thanks for the name check and link :)
The course really brought my bread making on a huge amount and gave me confidence to bake at least once a week and try new things.
Must do my write up soon - i'm so behind on blog posts.



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