Bread making has always been part of my life, my first solo attempt must have been when I was nineish. I baked with stone ground flour from the local mill, a black painted clapboard windmill that stood on the flat East Anglian plains. I remember climbing up through the wooden machine as it grumbled and creaked like a ship at sea to look through the window at the sails as they whirled by.
Food isn’t just about being fuel to keep me going, I like to engage the senses to savour and hold the moment. A while back I decided to make life as simple and delicious as possible. I don’t eat much bread, but the bread I eat I want to have a good and complex flavor and texture, this sourdough no kneed method looks to be a very clever move.
I have been trying to crack sourdough for a while, experimenting with a variety of methods. But so far, as kind as I’ve been to the dough, it’s been an unreliable hit and miss affair. So when Vanessa Kimbell invited me to join a workshop at her Sourdough School I jumped at the chance of spending a day baking with a sourdough expert. Vanessa runs her Sourdough School from her Victorian house in a walled garden, with a real kitchen garden right outside the kitchen door.
The day was full with hands on demonstrations as Vanessa took us through each stage of the process, learning how to get the best from our dough. She explained how temperature and different levels of hydration can affect fermentation, as well as showing us the no knead technique.
And of course the workshop included plenty of bread sampling, poppy seed rolls with home made jam to start the day, lunch was a delicious pizza, covered with a variety of cheeses, salamis, capers and artickhoke hearts and at snack time there was bruschetta with caponata.
By the end of the session we felt confident about going solo with sourdough bread making. As I drove away, with my jar of sourdough starter on the seat beside me, I was reminded of the journey home from hospital with a brand new baby, precious cargo.