It was great to be invited to the ‘Complete Sourdough Workshop’ at The Bread Ahead Bakery School, renowned master bakers in Borough Market. Home to ever popular baking workshops including doughnuts, great British baking, Nordic and gluten-free to name a few, their workshops are a must whether you are a complete beginner or a budding baker. Led by Bread Ahead’s masterful bakery school tutors, the team offer an insight into proper artisan baking in an easy to follow way. Here’s how we got on…
Our tutor for the day was Cristiana, a very talented and passionate chef who has recently worked as a Le Cordon Bleu teacher in Canada as well as owning and running her own restaurants. The insightful and endlessly knowledgeable Cristiana was none other than a sourdough bread making guru who welcomed us into the class.
On arrival (10am) we were greeted with pots of fresh coffee and brownies from the bakery downstairs. After our caffeine top up we began the day by making our very own ‘starter’. This is vital to making a really top-notch sourdough. A ‘starter’ is a pre-fermented mix of flour (preferably Marriage’s Millers, who supply Bread Ahead) and water which is then a labour of love for 8 days. The first six days consist of ‘feeding’ the mixture with 50g flour and 50g of water every day with a damp cloth placed over the top. On the 7th day the starter is then placed in the fridge then removed 12 hours before using to make bread on the 8th day.
After the starter was prepared, we spent the morning being shown the ropes on how to create the perfect bread with a pre-made starter from the main bakery (a few of our Bordynsky rye’s are pictured above – a polish rye bread that tastes particularly good with cheese boards).
Each of us were shown how to prepare a baguette, Bordynsky rye, White Levain, No Knead bread and last but not least pizza. After a morning of kneading and proving we were rewarded with our very own homemade sourdough pizza which is hands down the best we have ever eaten.
After a short break and a stroll through the buzzing Borough Market, we returned for an afternoon of preparing our bread for baking (the white Levain is pictured above). Towards the end of the day Cristiana prepared each of her loaves for us to taste with homemade jam and butter – such a treat after a long, hot day in the kitchen!
After feasting on warm freshly baked bread and more coffee, we packed up all our bread based delights into Bread Ahead’s beautifully designed paper bags to take home.
We cannot recommend the Complete Sourdough Workshop enough, however, if your thing is doughnuts or pittas you can see the full list of courses here. Gift vouchers are also available to buy for the half and full day workshops all year round. If you can’t make it to one of Bread Ahead’s workshops, but feel like trying out your baking skills – you can purchase a copy of the ‘Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook’ here.
How it all began:
Freshly baked bread has to be the ultimate feel good comfort food no matter the season. A real luxury when it’s still warm from the oven with homemade jam and butter spread on top. Whatever your topping preference, bread is amazingly versatile and can be enjoyed any time of day – it is a diet staple most of us can’t live without. But sadly in recent years much of the bread we consume has become a mass produced product with less nutrients, cheaper ingredients and therefor lower in quality which ultimately causes more and more intolerances. Bread Ahead founder Matthew Jones however has been working hard to change all that. Founded in 2013 by Matthew Jones who has been in the business of making bread for over 25 years. Just six years after it’s conception, Bread Ahead now supplies a range of local restaurants and delis as well as opening its first bakery school in the busy Borough Market in 2014 (shortly followed by the opening of a second school in Chelsea) and a bakery and café in Soho. Matthew’s mission is simple; to bring quality baking to the masses.
Images: Humphrey Munson