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Sourdough Workshop

September 22, 2018 - September 23, 2018

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Intermediate & Advances

Vanessa Kimbell

The Sourdough School

This two day workshop is centered around our classic retarded sourdough white boule made with 80% white flour and 20% wholegrain flour. We explore how different flours can produce surprisingly different results, and on this workshop students can, if they want, bring their own flour. Often flour from small mills or certain geographical regions are more challenging … so this course also allows students to learn to work with their particular local flour.  Should you want to bring your own flour then you will need to bring with you 2Kg – otherwise we have lots to choose from here.

We start by choosing two flours and then develop the process, adjusting hydration and timings, to get the best possible loaf from each one. It might be that we compare stoneground and roller milled flours, or flours milled from British, Canadian or Italian wheat. Sometimes students want to bring some local flour for us to try – sometimes from as far afield Japan or local flour from grains grown in Kuwait, or perhaps from a local artisan mill in the UK. We are happy to discuss using students choice of flour with Vanessa but this is also an opportunity for adventurous bakers to take a tried and tested method, and look at the range of flavours and textures we can produce by changing just one ingredient.

If you would like to bring enough flour for Vanessa to work with after the course, in case your recipe requires further work, then please bring 4kg of flour in total (2kg of white and 2kg of wholewheat).

What is a Sourdough development Workshop?
The Sourdough workshops concentrate on a particular aspect of baking sourdough

With just a handful of students the workshops are slower paced than traditional cookery school classes. It is about having the time to explore and connect to the transformation of flour, water and salt the through fermentation at the same pace as the bread. It really is the best way to learn.

We develop a formula and create a step-by-step guide, which is then posted to the sourdough club pages, so you can refer to it again and again, and it is integrated with all the video’s and articles on the club pages.

Every aspect of working with sourdough is covered in depth over the two days.

• Refreshment and maintenance of your starter and the effect on the bread
• How to build your culture to get the results you want
• Mixing techniques and developing gluten
• Why and when to Autolyse
• Understanding your flour
• Proof times and temperatures
• Getting the most successful baking techniques
• Scoring and why it is important
• Why sourdough bread is easier to digest and more nutritious.

The workshop is informal and based around developing, observing and recording one bread bake over the two day transformation from flour, water, salt and starter to a sourdough loaf ( pastry or cake). Its about understanding the process, and slowing down to experiment, research, write and record the process so that you can recreate the bread you like best at home.

Whilst we are working with the dough we will be enjoying delicious food to accompany the bread. We’ll make soup, culture some butter, make some fruit compote, and ferment some kvass.

Day One – Planning, understanding & building a foundation
Exploring the range of sourdough cultures, deciding which starter refreshment process will result in the best flavour and characteristics we want from the bread, and decide what kind of lactic acid to cultivate and deciding on the management of leaven to achieve the results we want. We choose one of our starters to develop one that is sourer, and another to develop a bread that is more like a French style sweeter sourdough bread which it makes really interesting flavour comparisons.

We will plan the process timings and temperatures and develop the baking schedule. What is really important on day one is getting the foundation right and really get under the skin of the starter maintenance and a schedule. Whenever appropriate we will also look at clinical evidence and nutritional studies that might be relevant to the bread.

Fermenting, observing, recording & understanding.
It’s particularly interesting to work with the same formula but different flours to develop the timings and technique that best suits each bake, so we assess how each flour behaves as the dough ferments. We often mill fresh flour, and we learn how to coax the most flavour and nutrition from each flour; we’ll be also taking a close look at gluten, fibre, age, milling process and rate of fermentation and assess how best to ferment each bread, looking at timings, gluten development, nutrition, digestibility, flavour and crumb structure.

Day Two– Baking, analysing, adjusting recording and eating.
Day two is the exciting bit when we bake the breads in the morning; once the bread has cooled then we will assess each loaf, do a structured taste and look at any adjustments that you might want to make then next time you bake. We will process the photographs, write up the formula and step by step guide, write our observations and notes for the bread.

The workshops are especially good to really understand sourdough especially if you have ever wanted to understand a specific aspect of your sourdough such as developing a particular texture or flavour.

Who are the workshops suitable for?
This workshop is a very small class size and works so it is suitable for most levels, however if you are an absolute complete beginner then you will get more out of this style workshop if you are familiar with the process and might prefer to book onto a beginners basic course first and then come to a workshop in a few months time.


September 22, 2018
September 23, 2018
Event Category:


The Sourdough School
+44 (0)7813 308301


The Sourdough School
Pitsford, Northampton NN6 9AU United Kingdom + Google Map
+44 (0)7813 308301