This past weekend barely left me with time to catch my breath.
Saturday was spent involved in a community planting activity, watching a worm farming demonstration and going to a Slow Food lecture with Paolo Di Croce.
Now if that wasn't enough for one weekend, Sunday was spent on an amazing four-hour Wild Sourdough cooking class with the incredibly talented Yoke Mardewi. This was a Mothers' Day pressie I bought for myself.
I have never attempted sourdough. I had often worried about the starter, and how to get it started and keep it all going. Now that I have had quite a bit of experience with yoghurt, and using some of the last batch to start the next, I wasn't as worried about it.
The class was a mix of listening and watching, and some hand-on.
It started with some taster plates on arrival that consisted of a selection of sourdough breads and homemade jams and preserves. Yoke then made a few different loaves using dough she had prepared earlier - fig and walnut, sundried tomato and roasted red onion, and haloumi and dried herbs. These were rolled up and left as free-form leaves. While these were doubling in size, we where shown how to get the pizza dough ready, as this was to be our lunch. These was a selection of tasty treats to use as toppings, including some homemade pesto.
After lunch we collected the bowls we had brought which now had some starter and water ready for us to add the flour. This was where is was great to be shown what the dough should look like at certain stages. I had to mix the dough for about five minutes until it was completely mixed. That was such difficult job as the dough is very thick and the stirring involved a lot of muscle. The dough needed 15 - 20 minutes to rest so that was enough time to have a cuppa (or two) and we were able to see the free forms loaves come out of the oven and watch these be cut open. Throughout the session, Yoke spoke about successes and failures and gave great little tips.
The last part of the afternoon involved learning how to air knead the dough. I could see how this could be a great thing to do in the afternoon after a busy day a work. By the time we left, each of us had enough dough to make two nice-sized loaves, as well as a started to get the next batch on the go. We were instructed that to stop the rise, we had to put the dough into the fridge as soon as we got home. Later in the week I will get organised to finish off the process.
On the way out I had to buy myself a copy of Yoke's book, Wild Sourdough, and it looks amazing. The instructions seem really clear and there is a great variety in the bread types. Yoke is a very good teacher and is so approachable. Once you have been to a class, she is happy to answer any questions you have regarding making the bread at home.
I like to think that this is where the sourdough experience starts.
After the lesson I now have a better appreciation of why these loaves are generally quite expensive to buy.
Hopefully by the weekend I will have impressed my family with a wonderful homemade sourdough loaf. The funniest part is that I know that after all of the time taken to prepare and bake this lovely bread, it will be eaten within minutes.