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Wood fired Sourdough Pizza Workshop – 3 days

June 22, 2018 - June 24, 2018

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Level: For any level

Tutor: Vanessa Kimbell


The Sourdough School

I’m really excited about this workshop. We have recently build a wood fired oven and we grown our own herbs and occasionally succeed in growing sweet fragrant tomatoes, but we’ve also lost plants several years running to blight. However, on warm summer evenings we throw open the doors at the front of the kitchen, fire up the oven and enjoy baking and eating pizzas al fresco.

My mothers family are from a small town not far from Naples nestled under mount Vesuvius. My grandmother used to tell me the story of the volcano erupting in the spring of 1944 and everyone fleeing into the fishermens boats.

It is said that the origin of pizza was Naples, and there is no doubt that the bases would originally have been leavened with wild yeasts, and the sauces would have been made with fresh tomatoes and herbs bringing all their wonderful flavours to the dish. Through time, baker’s yeast has replaced sourdough in many recipes, and ready made sauces have replaced freshly made ones … but for a truly authentic pizza I think you need to go back to the original.

In this three day sourdough pizza workshop, we’ll be developing a range of sourdough pizzas.

We will explore a range of long, slow fermented doughs. The first day will be about building up the cultures, and looking at ways to produce either a sweeter or more sour flavour in the dough. We’ll make different pizza doughs – maybe a rye base with feta and beetroot for a full flavour base, perhaps a soft 00 dough baked with soft goats cheese and baked on apple wood. We can explore baking black pizza bases and we will make out own sweet tomato sauce. The fun is in the development .. we can adjust the fermentation to get a really open crumb structure and make some pesto from the herb garden. And of course, there will also be different toppings to try, all baked in the blistering heat of the wood fired oven. It will be a busy three days of sourdough pizza development and dare I say indulgence?

We also have sourdough beer created by Vanessa and our own naturally fermented wine.

The flours will be from one of Vanessa’s favourite Italian Mills Mulino Marino and the olive oil is from our own adopted Sicilian Olive Tree.

What is a Sourdough pizza development Workshop?

The Sourdough workshops concentrate on a particular aspect of baking sourdough We’ll develop sourdough pizza bases over two and three days, using different starters, flour and methods and we observe, record and assess and analyse various techniques to find the best version.

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 three 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 pizza is easier to digest and more nutritious.

The workshop is informal and based around developing, observing and recording the pizzas and developed over the three day transformation from flour, water, salt and starter to a sourdough pizza base. 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.

Day One – Planning, understanding & building a foundation
Exploring the range of pizzas including the tightly policed Neapolitan style pizza, The more creative Roman style, and Pizza Nera and traditional Sicilian pizza.  We’ll also explore Chicago style pizza, investigate the differences between classic New York style pizza, and we will create  sourdough cultures, deciding which starter refreshment process will result in the best flavour and characteristics we want from our pizzas. Part of the process is deciding 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 pizza that is sweeter and we’ll marry up cheeses to get some really interesting flavour comparisons.

We will make the pizza sauces from scratch and plan the process timings and temperatures and develop the baking schedule. What is really important on day one is getting the foundation right and is really get under the skin of the starter maintenance and a schedule and gluten development Whenever appropriate we will also look at clinical evidence and nutritional studies that might be relevant to the pizza including how the sourdough process is transformative making the pizza base more delicious and nourishing.

Day Two – Fermenting, observing, recording & understanding.

It’s particularly interesting to work with the same formula but different flours to develop the timings and technique 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 pizza base, looking at timings, gluten development, nutrition, digestibility, flavour and crumb structure.

Day Three – Baking, analysing, adjusting recording and eating.
Day three is the exciting bit when we bake the pizza’s in the morning;  we will assess each pizza, 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 each pizza.

The workshops are especially good to really understand pizza especially if you have ever wanted understand a specific aspect of pizza 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.


June 22, 2018
June 24, 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