On Friday, I attended Dan Lepard's sourdough masterclass, run from Cookery School, in Little Portland Street, London (not Australia).
Inspiration for my post title from here
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
- 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