Come and learn how to use a century-old Tuscan sourdough starter to make delicious bread. Leave with a loaf of fresh bread, starter of your own, and a better understanding of traditional bread-making and the skills to match.

While your bread is rising, we’ll talk about everything from grains and milling to the future of bread.

Saturday, December 16th: Basic Sourdough

Sold out; there is a waiting list.

A step-by-step, hands-on workshop will end with you making a crusty sourdough loaf. I will explain each step of the process and give you the confidence to bake a beautiful loaf of bread. No experience needed.

Sunday, December 17th: Ciabatta and Rye

Change of plans; this will be another beginner course, focused on a multigrain seeded loaf.

Building on your bread-baking experience, this workshop will specifically address how to make an Italian ciabatta and sourdough rye bread.

Each workshop will last from 9AM to approximately 4PM.

Cost per workshop: $100, which includes snacks, a light lunch, and wine. At the end of the workshop, you will take home your own jar of sourdough starter, a freshly baked loaf of bread, and a booklet with instructions and recipes.

For details, contact our gracious host, Jennifer Wilkin Penick.

To continue the story of #igbreadclub

A brief recap: each month we bake a loaf from Hamelman’s Bread and share our experience. Although this is filed under Recipes I’m not actually giving detailed quantities or method because I followed the original pretty closely and so don’t feel it is fair. The only difference is that instead of ordinary wholewheat flour I used whole farro flour, which scarcely warrants comment.

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote briefly about trying a new approach to my 50% wholewheat loaf. The results were good enough to make me want to try again, after having found some good strong Manitoba flour. And all I can say is, I’m impressed.

I’m not going to repeat the recipe here. All the details, and lots of explanation, are on Trevor Jay Wilson’s website, and I have little to add. The secret is the very long autolysis. The idea is to wet the flour before adding any leavening at all. There are lots of good reasons to do this. It fully hydrates the flour, which gives the process of gluten formation a headstart. It also gives some of the enzymes in the flour a chance to convert starches to sugars, providing more food for the leaven and a slightly sweeter crumb. But the real key, with wholemeal flour, is that it softens the sharp-edged bits of bran in the wholemeal flour, with the result that they don’t do nearly as much damage to the gluten network. And that means a better rise and more oven spring.

I’ve done relatively brief autolysis before — half an hour or so. But Trevor calls for an overnight autolysis. That’s the big difference. What goes into the fridge a shaggy mass is almost a fully fledged dough next morning. (You take it out of the fridge just before bed time to let it gradually come up to room temperature.) Then it is just a matter of working in the starter, doing a few increasingly gentle stretch and folds, shaping, proving and baking.

And the result, this time, was beyond my expectations.

The cross section doesn’t really do justice to the open, airy texture. And the flavour was good too. Not too sour, nor really sweet, but chewy and good.

I think I’m sold on an overnight soak now for anything that contains more than a smidgen of wholewheat flour, and am currently waiting for my standard 50% wholewheat with a multigrain soaker to finish proving so I can see whether it makes any difference to that loaf.