Sourdough Bread Course

Written by  //  November 18, 2012  //  News  //  6 Comments

On Friday afternoon I went to Sutton Coldfield for a sourdough bread course, I was hoping to get some questions answered and hopefully to learn how to get my bread to be more consistent. My first job was to find my Bed and  Breakfast, not very easy because it was situated on a very busy road but I did get there in the end.  Windrush B & B was very comfortable.

Because we were making sourdough bread the course was held over two days, Friday evening 18.30 till 21.30 then  Saturday morning 09.00 till 12.30.  this was to give our dough an overnight rise.  Sourdough breads rely on starters to make the bread rise,  this is a slow process, but the slower the rise the better the bread.

The course was run by Roger who is not a baker but has been trying to turn his hobby into a job since he retired last year. He runs the course from his home, his school is called Wychelm Bread School.  There were only two people on the course myself and Judy.

After a chat about what we would be doing we set to work.  Our first job was to get our rye loaf started so we mixed rye sourdough starter, wholemeal rye flour and water.  We covered the bowl with clingfilm and left it to the side.  English Muffins were next on the agenda, again it was a simple job to mix sourdough starter with white flour, wholemeal flour and milk.  Another cling covered bowl was left to the side. Next job was a classic sourdough white loaf  Guess what we did?  That’s right we mixed sourdough starter white flour and water and left it aside to do it’s work overnight. Breadmaking  is really difficult isn’t it? Because we had done all our jobs quickly, there were only two of us, Roger asked us if we would like to try a spelt loaf.  Spelt is a very old grain, it contains gluten, it isn’t wheat but it is treated in the same way , it tastes a bit nutty.  We  left another bowl on the side then I headed off to my B&B.

After a good breakfast it was time to go and see what my dough had been doing overnight. It had been a cold night and Roger’s kitchen wasn’t heated so the dough had not risen as much as he had hoped. He turned the radiator and both of his ovens on at  07.00 to hurry  the rising process.  Making sourdough bread is all about environmental conditions so there can be no hard and fast rules only guidelines  which is a bit of a pain when trying to fit the process into a given time slot.  Anyway the kitchen was toasty hot when we arrived and our doughs were bubbling away well.

Now the hard work starts, no machines so we had to knead some of our doughs for ten minutes to develop the gluten.  The Rye bread was just mixed and put in a tin to prove, very simple shame I don’t like it very much.  Our classic loaf was tackled first because it needed the longest time to prove. After ten minutes kneading we shaped the loaf,  put it into a proving basket and once again left it to the side.  Making bread takes a long time but the actual work involved is minimal.  We moved on to the muffins, kneaded the dough then cut them out before leaving to prove.   They can be frozen at this stage apparently.  Lastly we did our spelt loaf.  As there was not going to be time to bake this loaf we put our dough to prove in a box to be finished off at home.

After our hard work it was time to have a break so Roger cooked the muffins and we ate some of them hot from the pan, I had marmite on mine but everybody else had jam.  They were really nice and I will make them again.  While we were eating Roger had put our Rye loaves into the oven but we had to get our classic loaf ready ourself.  This was the hardest job, the peel had to be coated with semolina  then the bread carefully turned out on top. After making sure it wasn’t sticking the bread had to be slid off the peel into the oven where it was baked on a pizza stone.  Because Judy and I were sharing the stone mine had to go to the back of the stone, my dough didn’t stick, it shot off the peel over the back of the stone and landed half on half off the stone.  Roger rescued it and got it where it should have been but it did turn out to be a weird shape at the back!!  It didn’t affect the taste though.

I enjoyed my time making the  bread and I realised that I wasn’t doing very much that was wrong.  If anybody wants a sourdough lesson or some starter let me know.


The spelt loaf wasn’t great, I don’t think it travelled well and it turned out a bit heavy but I’ll give it another go.  Brian likes the Rye loaf and I loved the classic loaf and the muffins.


6 Comments on "Sourdough Bread Course"

  1. Avatar
    0duncster0 November 20, 2012 at 18:34 · Reply

    Breads looks great. My favourite is spelt & a rye mix.

    • marietait34
      marietait34 November 20, 2012 at 19:54 · Reply

      Spelt is one of my favourites as well, even though the loaf I made wasn’t brilliant it wasn’t a disaster and I will make it again. I would need persuading to make rye bread again it’s a bit heavy.

  2. Avatar
    0duncster0 November 20, 2012 at 18:35 · Reply

    Think Brian needs to build you a brick bread oven for the garden like Jamie Oliver’s one.

    • marietait34
      marietait34 November 20, 2012 at 19:52 · Reply

      I think I’ll make do with the oven in the kitchen, it does quite a good job and I know how to control it!

  3. Avatar
    0duncster0 November 27, 2012 at 21:10 · Reply

    Your bread was very good. Nice crust. Need to get a stall at the farmers market.

    • marietait34
      marietait34 November 27, 2012 at 21:16 · Reply

      Getting a stall at a farmers market would make it work and I don’t want that! I’ll stick to making it for family.

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