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Brasserie Bread – Art of Sourdough class

April 23, 2012

Bread

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:

Sourdough Starter
My sourdough starter – Mr Stay Puft

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.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Our bowls filled with flour

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.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Our dough balls!

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!

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
By some, I mean A LOT!

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 😉

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
My rolls!

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Matt with our Batards.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Batards in the oven!

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!

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
The ginormous rotating oven our bread rolls were baked in.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Pretty hot cross buns being made for the Easter long weekend.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Shh! Starter is sleeping!

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!

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough

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.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Before

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
After!

We tasted: white sourdough, quinoa and soya, sour cherry loaf, garlic bread, new york rye, italian ciabatta, caramelised garlic… just to name a few!

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
With plenty of cheese, pepesaya butter and wine to go with!

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Sourdough starter feeding schedule.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough

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.

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough

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.
Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
Collecting our baked breads!

Brasserie Bread Art of Sourdough
My bread! Dinner rolls, epi and plaited loaf.

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!

Sourdough
The dough we made in class – later that evening. It’d outgrown its box!

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 😉

Sourdough

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.

Brasserie Bread
1737 Botany Rd
Banksmeadow
NSW 2019

ph: 1300 966 845

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2012 3:21 am

    Amazing birthday gift!! WOW! This looks like such a fun time. Not to mention I LOVE BREAD!

  2. April 24, 2012 10:42 am

    Amazing, brilliant post. As a sourdough baker myself this all totally rocks my world. How about all that bread and those ovens!? Heaven. This class is something I would love to do. Thanks for sharing.

    • May 28, 2012 9:49 pm

      Gosh I was sooo envious of their amazing magical steam ovens. Wish I had something like that at home 😉

  3. April 25, 2012 11:22 am

    Wow, what an awesome day for a present! All your bread’s look gorgeous! 🙂

  4. April 26, 2012 9:18 am

    OMG good work Mel! Big props! You have inspired me to bake this weekend 🙂

  5. April 26, 2012 9:24 am

    Brasserie Breads sourdough class has to have been my favourite ever cooking class. So much fun 🙂 and the bread….OH the bread!!

    • May 28, 2012 9:49 pm

      It’s so fun isn’t it!! I want to do more, more!

  6. April 29, 2012 2:08 pm

    whoah great birthday present Mel! and pttf to the people that say bread is a waste of carbs! they lied!

  7. May 6, 2012 7:17 am

    What a great class and how amazing are your friends?! Lucky you, Ashley! 😀

  8. May 15, 2012 4:54 pm

    Wow, the class looks fantastic! Inspires me to maybe get into bread making. Now I just need a starter!

    • May 15, 2012 4:57 pm

      The classes are sooo worth it! If you don’t want to bake sourdough at first & want to ease into it with easier yeasted doughs (much quicker, and less waste than sourdough… plus you don’t need a starter) they have a home-baker class too!

  9. May 15, 2012 9:26 pm

    I’ve been wanting to do one of these classes for ages! Great write up, looks so good. I understand your bread obsession 😉 I’m sure you’ve got the knack for it.

    • May 28, 2012 9:48 pm

      ooh definitely do! It was so worth it. I’ve been baking fresh bread every week since the class. It’s been heaps of fun!

  10. May 24, 2012 9:59 am

    Hi I am thinking of signing up a the sourdough baking class with Brasserie bread, but indecisive between the home baker and the art of sourdough baking courses. Which one would you recommend?

    • May 28, 2012 9:40 pm

      Hi J!

      It really depends on what you think you’ll use most when you get home. The home-baker class teaches you yeasted doughs that can be baked and eaten the same day you mix it. Baking sourdough requires a lot more time investment: from creating your starter from scratch (which can take up to 4 weeks before you can even bake!), feeding it every few days, and then finally mixing and baking – which is a 2 day process from start to finish. It’s a lot of time, but in my opinion the results are worth it.

      If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, I would definitely go for the home-baker course – but if you’re up for something a bit more challenging, the sourdough class may be the way to go!

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Trackbacks

  1. Sourdough – a work in progress update « crunchytiger
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