Class: The Art of Sourdough
Good for: Carb-lovers
Skills learned: How to care for a starter, how to knead dough and baking tips.
It’s been a long time since we’ve been this violent with a piece of food, but baker Matthew Brock actively encourages it. There are ten of us thrashing the living daylights out of our dough on a Sunny Saturday afternoon out at Brasserie Bread's Banksmeadow bakery/cafe. There’s still a measure of care, though – while we’re encouraged to stretch the gluten strands as far as possible, we don’t want to break them.
During the three-hour class, we learn kneading techniques and shaping. Did you know, for instance, there’s a preliminary shape and then a final shape, which determines the awesomeness of your loaf? A loose final shape creates a loose uneven crumb structure. A tight shape equals tight crumb structure. Facts!
We’re shown just how time consuming it is to look after your own starter (very – forget going on holiday for the first month of your starter’s life – it’s like having a new puppy), and how to slash our dough so our bread doesn’t split during baking. A tour through the massive bakery out the back shows trolleys heaving with pastries, loaves of bread and massive industrial ovens where we bake our dough. We end with a tasting of all the breads Brasserie makes and a free-for-all of the day’s over-bake.
Aside from being sent home with enough bread to last an apocalypse, we also take home the dough we’ve been torturing through the class, to be refrigerated and baked the following day. The result? Well, it's not perfect (we were really convinced we'd become a master baker after three hours) but it's certainly honest and delicious, if not a little rustic (read: black as tar on one side, beige on the other).
Time Out tip: Kids can get involved in the action too – every school holidays Brasserie hosts special classes for budding bakers.