This week saw me at a bread making class. I used to make bread, firstly teaching 11 year old boys ( who were actually better at it than the girls) in an Inner London school. And although it shouldn’t be “bashed” around, they did, and it turned out edible ( well almost).
Move on a few years and whilst living in rural France, with a toddler, we picked dandelions for salads and made bread for lunch. What about the wonderful baquettes? Well, eating baquettes on a daily basis, soon became boring and they are not food for toast, beans on toast or sardines on toast,or for anything “on Toast”! and so number one daughter and I made bread a few times each week. In those days it was easy to buy fresh yeast, simply go to the bakers and ask, Levure s’il vous plâit. Since then, however my bead making endeavours have fallen off, though I should have continued whilst living in Texas, as to my mind their choice of bread left much to be desired and Sourdough had yet to reach Houston. And as Julia CHild once said, ” How can a Nation be great, when it’s Bread tastes like Kleenex”!!!!
So once after having spent the morning in the kitchen of the two Michelin star SAT BAINS, I was encouraged to go home and start making my own Sourdough bread. I have to say to mixed results, so on a whim, I sent myself off to the Bread Shop in Borough Market, called Bread Ahead. Here they hold all sorts of Bread making courses, ranging from Sourdough to Gluten Free and from a half day course to a mind boggling three day course.
There I met the delightful Hilary , who is passionate about baking and especially about Sourdough. In fact she is so passionate about Sourdough she has written a book on the subject ( not yet available, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon….Sourdough Suppers: A Year in the Life of a Wild Yeast Culture by Hilary Cacchio ).
She started the class off by explaining what a wild yeast culture is.Wild yeast are present in all flour, and so the easiest way to make a starter is simply by combining flour and water and letting it sit for several days. That is the simple version.
Hilary had brought along to the class, some of her culture ( which will keep forever … well almost) she travels around the world with one or another of her wild yeast cultures, and the one we were to use was called Bruce. I now have my own culture and it is called Alfie !
I will give you the basics for starting your own wild yeast culture, but for the rest, I would recommend going to one of Hilary’s classes or at least read her book.
50g Organic Strong White or Rye flour mixed with 50 g of cold water, mix these together and cover ( I covered mine with some cling film), and leave at room temperature. add to this each day for 4 more days, another 50 g flour and 50 g of cold water and mix well. By thern it should smell nice and be bubbly. I can now be covered but not sealed and refrigerated until ready to use. Before use it needs to be at room temperature for several hours ( maybe overnight) for the yeast to rejuvenate.
So that is just the begining. Hilary can be found at http://hilarycacchio.com/
or Bread ahead www.breadahead.com/courses
Happy Baking everyone!