Brasserie Bread – Art of Sourdough class
For my birthday earlier this year, my super awesome friends bought me a Brasserie Bread baking class gift voucher!
Possibly because a) they are super awesome friends who know exactly what to buy me, b) I talk wayy too much about how much I love bread (I REALLY LOVE BREAD) or c) this way I would be forever in their debt and would have to repay them with unlimited supplies of home-baked bread
Possibly a little from column a) b) and c)
Without even looking at the schedule I knew exactly which class I wanted to take…. Art of Sourdough!
I don’t think I mentioned it here before, but for the past few months I’ve been tending to my very own sourdough starter (aka Mr Stay Puft).
Here it is in all its glory:
I got the starter from one of my highschool friends, whose dad is quite the proficient home baker. Mr Stay Puft originally started life as a rye starter, but as I fed him white flour he slowly became as white and puffy as his namesake. But despite feeding him for months, I still hadn’t worked up the courage to bake with him!
When I did the home baker class at Masterchef Live with Matt from Brasserie Bread, he joked that looking after a starter was like looking after another child. Not being a parent myself, I can’t completely vouch for the statement’s accuracy but GOSH if that’s what it’s like… the outlook for my future progeny is not favourable. I have to admit that Mr Stay Puft gave me a few death-scares here. Especially thanks to his tendency of getting lost in the back of the fridge. But I’m glad to report that he is still alive and bubbling.
So it was with great excitement that I and my friend Zay (who had quite enough listening to me rabbiting on about bread that she booked herself in as well!) took part in our Art of Sourdough Class earlier this month.
(Sorry I didn’t bring my DSLR to the class (too lazy!) – but I did have my phone. So iphone photos it is!)
Our class was on the Easter long weekend; even though it was a holiday for most people – a bakery never sleeps! According to our friendly instructor Matt, the only day the bakery is really closed is Christmas. In fact Easter is one of their busiest times of the year – with thousands and thousands of their delicious hot cross buns being ordered all over Sydney.
First Matt showed us how to mix a basic sourdough dough. Sourdough is different from regular yeasted bread because it uses a sour ferment called a starter to create rise, rather than yeast. The starter itself is made from just flour and water (with perhaps a simple sugar like figs or crushed grapes to help it along) – which means the ingredients for a basic sourdough loaf are simply flour, water and salt! It blows my mind that something so delicious and complex can come from so few ingredients.
The sourdough process is much slower than that of yeasted bread. There’s a lot more resting and time involved. So after we were finished kneading, our sourdough balls got covered with clingwrap and put away to rise. At the end of the class, we’d be able to take that dough home – shape it, let it rest overnight, bake in the morning and voila! Fresh bread for breakfast!
Meanwhile, Matt and the another instructor Yudha brought in some preprepared dough for us to learn bread shaping. The dough was half-yeasted half-sourdough so that it would rise in time for us to bake before the class was over!
We learnt how to make batards (not err… “Bastards” like I accidentally tweeted >_>), baguettes, knotted loaves and dinner rolls. Shaping the dough reminded me of preschool and playing with playdoh 😉
While we waited for our dough to rise, Yudha took us on a tour of the bakery. If you’ve ever ordered sourdough toast in a cafe in Sydney (Danks St Depot, Reuben Hills, Robocog… just to name a few) or even some fancy schmancy restaurant (like Aria) – chances are it been baked at Brasserie Bread!
I’d been to eat at Brasserie Bread’s own cafe quite a few times (previously blogged here: Afternoon Breakfast at Brasserie Bread), but I had no idea how huge the rest of the bakery was behind the scenes! Yudha told us they go through almost 2 tonnes of flour every day. INCREDIBLE.
It was awe inspiring seeing the bakers and pastry chefs at work. Such dexterity! Such speed!
Apparently sourdough starter is guarded with security cameras. If you’re the baker on the starter feeding roster that day and something goes awry, you can be sure the powers-that-be know who to point the finger at!!
Speaking of the starter – look how big Brasserie Bread’s starter is, compared to weenie Mr Stay Puft. And this is just a few barrels!
After the tour came the part we were all looking forward to… BREADUCATION! Aka stuffing our greedy little faces with all the delicious things Brasserie Bread makes.
We tasted: white sourdough, quinoa and soya, sour cherry loaf, garlic bread, new york rye, italian ciabatta, caramelised garlic… just to name a few!
Time to take our loaves out of the oven! If only I had a fancy steam oven like this at home. While it bakes, the baker is able to inject steam into the oven – guaranteeing that crunchy crust.
SO IMPRESSIVE! I never imagined my little lump of malformed dough would turn out so handsome. (Mine’s top right in this picture). I liked seeing how all the different slashes affected the end result. The typical diagonal slashes looked great, but the bold horizontal slashed bread looked the best I thought.
Collecting our baked breads!
It was a great class – Matt was a very fun teacher and kept us entertained with anecdotes from his career as a baker. And I definitely felt like I had enough confidence to be able to go home and bake my own bread using Mr Stay Puft! Best of all – we all went home with huge shopping bags worth of freshly baked bread: the bread we’d baked ourselves that afternoon, leftovers from the Breaducation, plus a whole Quinoa and Soya loaf each.
Not to forget the dough we made in class!
I shaped the dough as we were shown, and left it overnight in the fridge to prove. The next morning it went in the oven…
Voila! My very first sourdough loaf! A bit err… rough looking… but as Matt says, if it turns out wonky, just call it rustic and charge double 😉
I forgot to take a photo of inside the loaf, but it turned out pretty great! (as it should with Brasserie Bread’s 15 year old starter to power it!) It had a chewy crumb with big holes like in PROPER sourdough! And a super crunchy crust. I’m definitely hooked!
If you have any interest in breadmaking I definitely recommend it.
Brasserie Bread classes cost around $150 each for a 3 hour class.
You can find their Sydney and Melbourne baking class schedules here on their website.
1737 Botany Rd
ph: 1300 966 845