Sourdough has always fascinated me, like every home bread maker. Obviously it became very hip during lockdown. Instagram with numerous proud bread parents presenting their new sourdough child to the world. I’ve always dabbled with it, but the end product always resembled a sourdough frizbee.
So it was time to up my game with a two day sourdough course with Emmanuel Hadjiandreou at the Artisan School Of Food in Nottinghamshire.
The Artisan School Of Food is in the heart of the Welbeck estate in north Nottinghamshire. Its location means it is easy to get to, as it is only a few miles from either the M1 or A1.
The founder had already started a bakery in the courtyard that eventually went on to house the school. The School is in a beautiful 1870 Grade II listed building in the heart of the Sherwood Forest.
It contains spacious training kitchens, lecture theatre and dairy training room. It offers classes in baking, patisserie, butchery and charcuterie, cheese, ice cream and preserving and fermentation. Classes range from half a day to a full five day professional course. They have a full range of courses suitable for beginners right up to professionals.
Top tip. If you are going for a full day course don’t bother with breakfast or a packed lunch! The course fee includes both of these, and they are amazing! You can specify any dietary requirements in advance, so you’ll definitely have something delicious to eat.
On the estate you will find a thriving artisan food community. In the grounds you’ll find the Welbeck farm shop which has all the goodies you want. There’s several counters where you can buy meat and cheese made on, or near the site. As it was so close I had more than enough time to pick up my favourite pork pies, and a few black pudding scotch eggs! I also made sure I picked up a few bottles of beer from the onsite brewery.
The Sourdough Course
On arrival I met all the other people on the course and fuelled up for the day with coffee and breakfast. Emmanuel came in to see us to ask what we wanted to get from the course. Lots of us seemed to have had the same frisbee loaves that I’d made to date!
I knew in advance that Emmanuel liked to keep bread and sourdough baking simple. My previous attempts at sourdough had always been fraught. Dough sticking to hands and starters, bowls, flour and dough everywhere!
Imagine my panic then when I read the recipe book at my bench and found that we’d be making there loaves today and three loaves the next!
I needn’t have worried. Emmanuel likes to keep sourdough as uncomplicated as the rest of his baking. Teams of two students each got to work weighing out the flour for the day ahead. On the list for day one was Pain de Campange, white sourdough and dark rye sourdough.
Given my previous attempts at sourdough I wondered how I would cope with three loaves on the go at the same time. Emmanuel put us at our ease, saying we just needed to use the bowl. No countertops full of flour, oil or whatever. We all gathered round his bench and watched as we got detailed instructions. In a large bowl break up the sourdough starter in the water. In a smaller bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the flour to the water and mix to a dough. Cover with the bowl, and leave for 10 mins. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl. Leave for 10 mins. Repeat four times. Shape, leave to rise and bake. It’s really that simple.
Using this method it was easy to keep three loaves on the go at once. At the end of day one we baked off the white and dark rye sourdoughs. The Pan de Campagne was left in the fridge overnight to prove. Emmanuel then talked us through how to create and look after a starter. Turns out you only need a small amount. No discarding loads every day, or being drowned in sourdough crackers!
Day two started with more measuring out of flour and added ingredients. Apricot and walnuts for one sourdough, some chopped rye for another. Finally we made sure everyone had enough sultanas for their dark rye and sultana sourdough.
More mixing, stretching, folding and shaping and proving. Leaving the bread to do the work for you. While one dough was resting after folding and stretching you moved onto the next one.
The whole course was a revelation to me, and hopefully our kitchen will no longer look like a bomb site when I’m in there.
If you want to explore making sourdough, or any of the other courses, don’t hesitate. Christmas is coming up, and times are tight. However, they also do gift vouchers so the recipient can choose whatever course they want.
I’m off to the school again this weekend to do the Venison In A Day course. You’ll be hearing more about this later!