Fenella’s cheese is Delicious

May 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Browsing May’s issue of Delicious magazine on a train journey recently I was thrilled to see Fenella Madison’s cheese featured in Debra Waters’ article on the food of Guernsey (p106 in the June issue).

Fenella makes a gorgeously creamy soft blue cheese from real Guernsey milk (ie milk from the island and not just from the Guernsey breed of cows) which she has named Fort Grey after a local landmark visible from her home in the picturesque south of the island.

Sadly, you can only buy Fenella’s cheese on Guernsey. Because the Channel Islands are by a quirk of legislation outside the European Union, the cost and red tape renders exporting the cheese to the UK out of the question.

This didn’t stop me organising a possibly illegal personal export of my own after last summer’s holiday. Here’s the tasty canapé style snack I made on my return home. It combines Fenella’s cheese with a little raw cured ham on a piece of Italian carta da musica bread.

As the article mentions, Fenella makes the cheese in a converted garage attached to the family home. She began cheese making relatively recently after taking a course at the School of Artisan food in Nottinghamshire under the tutelage of Randolph Hodgson of Neal’s Yard Dairy no less. We called in on Fenella and husband Derek on what should have been the last day of our summer holiday last year and were lucky enough to have a personal guided tour of the cheese making facility.

Here’s the fridge where the maturing cheeses are stored. As you can see, this is a genuinely hand made cheese produced in small batches.

Fenella is scrupulous about temperature control, cleanliness and all aspects of hygiene. Here is elder son George modelling the obligatory net cap (and yes that’s Fenella in the background).

If you do happen to be visiting the island you can buy Fenella’s cheese at the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Saumarez Manor:

Or try it on the menu at The Auberge (Jerbourg Rd 01481 238485) or buy it at Forest Stores just near the airport (Le Bourg 01481 238485).

Artisan baking part 4: tin loaves

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Just remembered that I still haven’t documented everything I learned at my 4 day bread baking course held at the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire last October. I’ve already posted about wild yeasts, rye sourdough and white sourdough.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now it’s the turn of perhaps the simplest loaves to make – tin loaves made with ordinary yeast (rather than a wild yeast sourdough starter).

Day 1 of the course started with baking 3 types of tin loaf – a white, wholemeal and a malthouse. Course teacher Emmanuel Hadjiandreou introduced us to the basic techniques – the ten second knead, proving, shaping and baking at a good high temperature with the aid of steam to just the right degree of doneness. You can see these demonstrated on a short video clip here:


Emmanuel’s take on breadmaking is a delightfully lazy yet extremely effective one – it lets time and the yeast do the work for you. The flour, yeast and salt are combined then rested for 10 minutes. The dough is kneaded for 10 seconds then rested for 10 minutes. This step is repeated 4 times so that, if you are efficient, the dough has only 40 seconds’ kneading in total!

Emmanuel’s recipes for white, wholemeal and granary loaves are given below, as provided by on the course with the tiniest of wording changes – I haven’t meddled with the quantities at all -wouldn’t dare!

Scanning the list of ingredients you’ll see that there is just flour, salt, yeast and water in these recipes – no lard, oil, sugar etc – bread made just from the basic raw materials. What I immediately noticed was the small quantities of yeast used. The proportions in all 3 recipes are, for whatever quantity of flour is used, 1% of its weight in fresh yeast, 2% in salt. This is the so called Bakers’ Percent system so you can feel like a real pro doing it this way.

Emmanuel’s proportions really do work and the resulting loaves are well risen with a good flavour, especially if proved overnight, and avoid the overly yeasty taste which is a common fault of home breadmaking.

We worked with fresh yeast on the course – an enormous block of the stuff. You can buy it at any kind of bakery, even supermarket instore ones. In a loosely tied plastic bag in the fridge it will keep for 2 maybe even 3 weeks.

Unlike the hurly burly and controlled chaos of ordinary life at home, we worked in a quasi laboratory style environment on the course with all the ingredients for our 3 tin loaves (white, wholemeal and malthouse) weighed out to 1g accuracy before we started:

We made the dough for each of the loaves in succession, first wholemeal, then granary and finally white. Here’s the white dough after its 4 kneads about to undergo its 1 hour resting and proving period:

We stored our proving doughs, neatly covered with plastic bowls (a trick I’ve replicated at home using transparent plastic picnic plates atop my mixing bowls – saves on clingfilm) on handy shelves underneath the work surfaces:

One hour later, the white dough looked like this:

All that remains is to shape the dough (see video clip above). With first the palm then the fingertips it’s patted then rolled before being placed seam side down in the tin.

We were given the option of adding seeds to our crust – simply sprinkle lightly the top surface of the dough with water and, cradling the loaf your hand, gently press and roll the top surface onto your chosen seeds – sesame, poppy or whatever – which you have spread out on a flat plate or tray.

The loaf is then proved, again with the tin covered by a plastic bowl, until nearly doubled in size. If you’re not ready to bake, the proving can be retarded by refrigerating the loaves overnight. Then you can have freshly baked bread for breakfast. We tasted bread that had been proved overnight and compared it to bread with a normal 1-2 hour proving. The overnight proved bread had a slightly more intense flavour – hard to describe exactly what the difference is – a subtle yet perceptible difference, a fuller flavour.

Judging whether a loaf is fully proved and being able to accelerate or retard the process using a warm place or fridge respectively is one of the hardest bits of baking knowhow to acquire. It’s something you learn by experience. In the following picture, the wholemeal loaf is clearly ready to bake whereas the granary one needs another 20 minutes or so:

These are a couple of loaves that went a bit wrong. They door of the fridge in which they were supposedly proving slowly overnight was accidentally left open. The fermentation went over the top and after a spectacular rise, the dough collapsed and flattened. In the interests of research we baked and ate the errant loaves – they still tasted fine but didn’t quite look as they should and the crumb size was uneven.

What a lot I seem to have written about loaves that are a quick and easy to make. I’ve hardly been encouraging have I? Just one final point to get across.

I’ve already written in previous artisan baking posts about the importance of a really hot oven and creating steam – just do what the recipe below says. My final point is that before the loaves go into the hot oven, you can slash them with a sharp knife. This looks attractive and helps the loaf rise evenly when baked but it’s not essential for a tin loaf (unlike the freeform rustic breads which need slashing in order to avoid bursting). The white loaf shown in the picture at the top of this post is both seeded and slashed so you can see the combined effect.

Here’s how the end results should look, first the white and then the malthouse.

Happy baking!

Recipe for white bread


300g strong white flour
6g salt
3g fresh yeast (2g dried)
200g water at room temperature

1. In a small mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.

2. Add the flour and salt to the larger bowl containing the yeast and water. Mix using a wooden spoon and/or your hands until the mixture becomes a dough.

3. Cover the dough with either another bowl, a plate or cling film to prevent it drying out and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

4. Knead the dough in the bowl for 10 seconds (see video clip above), form into a ball, cover as before and leave for 10 minutes.

5. Repeat step 4. a further 3 times – the dough will have been kneaded 4 times. Cover and leave for 1 hour.

6. Punch the dough down, shape into a loaf (see video clip above) and place in an oiled 1lb loaf tin.

7. Cover the tin with an upturned mixing bowl to prevent a skin forming and and let the loaf rise until slightly less than double in volume. This is likely to take about 45 minutes.

8. When the dough is almost fully proved, preheat the oven to 250 degrees C placing a deep baking tray on the base of the oven.

9. Place the loaf in the oven at 250 degrees C, throw a cup of cold water into the hot tray to produce steam, close the oven door quickly and reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees C.

10. Bake for approx 35 minutes until golden brown and sounding hollow when the loaf is turned out and tapped (refer video clip above). Turn out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Recipe for wholemeal bread


300g strong wholemeal flour
6g salt
3g fresh yeast (2g dried)
230g water at room temperature

Method as for white loaf above.

Recipe for malthouse bread


300g malthouse flour
6g salt
3g fresh yeast (2g dried)
200g water at room temperature

Method as for white loaf above.

Artisan baking part 3 white sourdough

December 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Pictured above are the beautiful baguettes à l’ancienne that I and my fellow novice bakers managed to conjure up after just a couple of hours tuition by master baker, bread enthusiast and all round great teacher Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. This post is the 3rd in a series describing the 4 day baking course I attended recently at the School of Artisan food on the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire. Emmanuel is pictured in many of my photos and in my thrilling “white sourdough” video footage which you can find here:


Emmanuel’s white sourdough bread recipe is given at the end of this post. What the basic recipe can’t tell you is the wealth of knowhow needed to bake the perfect artisan loaf. This can only come from time spent handling dough and actually baking. All of the bread we amateurs produced on the course was outstanding. Back home, I have to say that my results with this most apparently simple of recipes have been a little more variable. I’ll try and point out the key things we learned on the course as I describe in more detail how we made this bread.

First of all, the raw ingredients. There are so few in the recipe that they have to be good. We worked exclusively with Shipton Mill organic flour in man-sized 25kg bags:

Then there’s the all-important sourdough, this time in a classroom-sized batch, bubbling away with its distinctive acetone scent:

Here’s my ingredients weighed out and ready to go. If only real life back home turned out to be clean, tidy, prepared, all weighed out…

You can see the dissolving of the sourdough in water and Emmanuel’s trademark “10 second knead” in the video clip referred to above. I like the idea that there’s very little work involved in preparing this dough – the wild yeasts quietly get to work and all you have to do is be patient and create the right conditions for this living organism to thrive. Time and a degree of patience are the things needed here.

Once the dough is prepared, it’s time for the fun bit, the shaping into loaves, baguettes or whatever. Artisan loaves obtain their distinctive appearance from the patterns left by natural cane or wicker proving baskets – also known as bannetons in French or Brotförme in German. Here’s a stack of them photographed at the commercially run Welbeck Bakehouse adjacent to the School:

The baskets need to be liberally dusted with flour before you pop the bread in – we used a mix of white flour and semolina for this purpose which gives a bit of crunch to the baked crust. The cane or wicker baskets can be used just as they are, no need for the washable liners you see advertised sometimes – this way you cut down on washing and get the beautiful cane spiral marks on your bread which mark it out as being the real deal.

There’s no need to invest in a stack of pricey proving baskets before you start making bread – I’ve been managing at home lately with a couple of ordinary small wicker baskets lined with (freshly laundered) waffle teatowels. I have a notion that the plastic basket from my salad spinner would also be fit for purpose. That said, I’m now hooked on breadmaking and have just ordered myself an early Christmas present online – 6 cane baskets from specialist artisan baking supplies website


You can see Emmanuel demonstrating how to shape a loaf before popping it in a proving basket in the video clip above. It may look nonchalant but the folding and tightening of the dough at this stage is key to a well risen and shapely baked final result. As Emmanuel says “don’t be shy to use a little bit of force”.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try shaping your own baguettes? It’s not as daunting as it looks and you don’t need any special equipment or tins as it’s only industrial bakers that shape their baguettes in tins. Real bakers look in scorn at the telltale spot marks on the base of an industrially baked baguette which come from the tins used to shape and bake them.

What you need to do is divide you dough into 4 equal pieces (scales are needed to do this accurately). As the video clip shows, each piece of dough is rolled into a tight sausage shape and is placed seam side down on pleated calico liberally dusted with the flour/semolina mix to prevent sticking. Back home, I’ve found that a pleated linen or waffle cotton teatowel works well here though I had to shorten the length of my baguettes to fit the size of my domestic linen. Here’s a photo of Emmanuel’s baguettes nestling in their floured calico:

Once the loaves have proved and are doubled in size and the oven is hot, there’s one more key procedure – slashing. This is not merely decorative but also vital to make the loaf rise evenly and to promote what those in the know call “oven spring”. You’re looking for a plump, pert loaf rather than something too flat and pancakey.

For slashing, a medium sized really sharp blade and a deft swift and not too light touch are needed. You don’t want to just scratch the surface as you need to make a proper incision I would say at least a centimetre deep. A really sharp blade will mean you cut the dough cleanly rather than drag and stretch it which in turn will cause your beautifully risen dough to deflate demoralisingly.

In the video clip you can see us delivering the 5 traditional diagonal slashes to a baguette. Here’s me attempting the alternative scissor and twist technique for shaping the show-off épi baguette pictured at the beginning of this post.

Getting the bread into the oven is a little tricky, especially for baguettes. At the School, we baked this first batch of sourdough loaves in the professional Tom Chandley deck oven which has several stacked ovens which delivers a really good all over crust because of the direct heat at the base.

The proved loaves were turned out onto peels – thin wooden trays – thence straight onto the base of the oven with a deft in and out sliding motion. Think of the trick of whisking away a tablecloth but leaving all the china and cutlery on it intact. Back home I’ve not gone to the trouble (yet…) of investing in a small domestic peel and baking stone but instead have preheated metal baking sheets and have tipped out my proved loaves directly into these and popped them straight back into the hot oven.

One further point on technique – the steam referred to in the recipe is absolutely essential as it delays the formation of a thick skin on the loaf which will turn into an unpleasantly thick crust.

You can see the baked baguettes at the beginning of this post. This is what the baked artisan loaves should like, each decorated with its own individual slash mark:

And finally, what do you see when you cut into your freshly baked loaf? This is the perfect uneven, open crumb and elastic texture.

All that’s needed now is a wedge of your favourite cheese and glass of red wine…

Recipe for white sourdough bread


500g strong white flour
150g white sourdough
+/- 300g water
8g salt

Mix the flour and salt in a small mixing bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, dissolve the sourdough in the water. Add the flour mixture to the water and mix until it forms a dough. Cover the dough with the small mixing bowl and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Knead the dough, still in the bowl, for 10 seconds. Shape into a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Cover and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat these two steps until the dough has been kneaded four times. Cover and rest the dough for an hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and portion into the required sizes. This quantity of dough will make a single rustic loaf or 4 baguettes. Shape the loaf/loaves into proving baskets or into pleated calico for baguettes or into a greased tin.

Allow to prove for 3-6 hours or until approximately doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C with a deep tray in the base of the oven. Once the bread is ready for baking, slash with a very sharp knife. Place the loaf in the oven at 250 degrees C, put a cup of water in the hot tray to form steam then lower the oven temperature to 210 degrees C.

Bake for +/- 35 minutes until golden brown. Turn out of its tin (if you have used one) and cool on a wire rack.

Artisan baking part 2 rye sourdough

November 23, 2010 § 2 Comments

This post is the second of series describing the inspiring 4 day bread baking course I attended in last month at the School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire. I’ve decided to forget about describing the course contents in logical chronological order but instead to write about what inspires me at the moment. This week, that just happens to be rye bread, specifically rye sourdough.

Before the course, the inner workings of rye bread were a mystery to me: it remained an occasional eccentric supermarket purchase – cellophane-wrapped packets of pumpernickel containing dark brown strips of cardboard textured slices which seemingly last for ever had a certain masochistic expeditionary appeal.

I hadn’t appreciated that organic stone-ground rye flour was widely available and as a result I’d never have dreamed of trying to bake it myself at home. Since the course, all that has changed.

Our teacher, bread guru Emmanuel Hadjiandreou was brilliant and packed in so much information over the 4 days that it’s taken a while to sift through my photos and video clips. I’ve taken a crash course in basic video handling and editing in my latest One to One session at the Apple Store in Manchester and my very first little movie, imaginatively titled “Rye Sourdough” can be viewed by clicking on the following link.


Now you can see yourself Emmanuel’s deft handiwork, the exact consistency of starter and finished dough and even hear the sound of a perfectly baked loaf.

Let’s start with Emmanuel’s recipe. The ingredients and quantities are exactly as on his beautifully typed-out recipe sheets handed out on the course but I have on occasion put his methods into my own words.

Recipe for dark rye sourdough bread


For the ferment

150g dark rye flour
100g rye sourdough
200g water

For the bread

1 quantity ferment (see above)
200g dark rye flour
6g salt
150g very hot water

Optional flavourings

For apple rye – add 200g chopped dried apple
For apricot rye – add 200g chopped dried apricots
For sultana rye – add 200g sultanas
For prune and pepper rye – add 200g prunes and 10g pink peppercorns
For onion rye – add 200g chopped onion, lightly fried

Begin the day before you want the bread by mixing together the ferment ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cover with a smaller mixing bowl and leave to ferment overnight at room temperature. In another bowl, weigh out the remaining flour and salt and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

The following morning, when you’re ready to make the bread pour the flour and salt mix over the ferment in the first mixing bowl. Then pour over the measured quantity of very hot water (from a just boiled kettle). The layer of flour will protect the hot water from scalding and killing the yeast within the ferment. Mix thoroughly and add any optional flavourings at this stage. Shape into a greased tin.

Allow to rise/prove for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Place the proved loaf into the oven at this high temperature; add a cup of water on a hot tray in the base of the oven to form steam then lower the oven temperature to 220 degrees C.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

And now for the raw materials.

What we have here is a bowl of ferment (noun) – a wet dough mixture made the night before and left to ferment (verb) to activate the wild yeasts and develop the characteristic background sour flavour of good rye bread. Next to it is the weighed-out rye flour and salt. And that’s it. The rye flour had a silky texture and the prettiest more-than-pastel grey-green colour which when baked is transformed into a dark chocolate-brown loaf.

Here’s fellow student Jethro inspecting the small bubbles which have formed overnight in his ferment. Being able to see what’s going on in your dough from all sides was a bonus of using the semi-translucent plastic bowls we were provided with on the course. These lightweight bowls can be upturned and used as protective covers over fermenting doughs, another useful home-baking tip potentially saving metres of clingfilm and faffing with damp teatowels.

You can also see fellow student Diana carefully weighing out dry ingredients on the “My Weigh” (geddit?) scales we were provided with on the course. These were brilliant and so quick and easy to use and of course accurate to within a gram too – essential especially for getting the right quantity of salt in a recipe. We weighed everything on the scales, the water too, as of course 1ml of water weighs 1g and it’s much more accurate not to say speedy to weigh the water rather than use a measuring jug. Since coming home I’ve bought a set of these scales (Amazon marketplace) and consigned my retro scales with their dinky brass weights to the cellar.

Here is my brandy new all-singing, all dancing set of My Weigh scales on the kitchen table at home:

It seems very odd adding near-boiling water to a bread recipe. Rye bread is unique in requiring this step and Emmanuel talked about this causing a process within the flour called gelatinisation – the dough takes on a porridge like consistency. He showed us how to protect the ferment containing the essential wild yeasts from the hot water by using the flour as an insulating blanket with the hot water being poured over the top.

The rye dough doesn’t look very inspiring when first mixed – more like a building material. I quipped to Ben, a young chef from South Africa who was sharing my workbench that the dough reminded me of childhood holidays on the beach in Wales. He looked puzzled – it seems that beaches in South Africa are of the pure white sand variety rather than the grit, shingle and mud we’re used to over here!

The wet dough mixture is shaped by being tipped into the oiled tin and patted and smeared using a dampened plastic scraper into a mounded loaf shape. Emmanuel advised being careful not to let water from the scraper run down the sides of the tin as this will cause the loaf to stick.

After two hours or so, the rye loaves had increased in size dramatically. We were given the option of sprinkling the top with rye flour and you can see the effect this produces in the loaf on the left in the picture below:

I’ve not stopped making this recipe since returning home after the course. I’ve been using Bacheldre organic stoneground rye flour which gives really good results (sorry Jethro but Ocado don’t stock your stuff). It’s become a bit of a weekend routine to resuscitate the rye starter on a Thursday night ready for a Friday night ferment (sounds more exciting than it really is!) and a Saturday baking session. Here’s a pic of a couple of loaves I baked at the weekend. The resulting bread is moist, flavoursome and delicious, makes fantastic sandwiches and toast and is nothing like those cardboard pumpernickel slices….

Four blissful days of artisan baking – part 1, the basics

October 19, 2010 § 4 Comments

I’m freshly returned from four days spent at the School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire baking bread under the watchful eyes of Master Baker Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. Emmanuel, originally from South Africa despite his Greek name has an immaculate baking pedigree having worked for the catchily named Flour Power City bakery in London, Gordon Ramsay, Daylesford Organic in Oxford and Judges Bakery in Hastings. Judges is, by the way no ordinary bakery as it’s owned by Green & Black’s chocolate founders Craig Sams and Josephine Fairley.

Here’s Emmanuel in teaching mode in the School kitchens on Day 1 of the “Artisan Baking Session”.

Emmanuel is clearly passionate about all things bread, incredibly skilful, a natural teacher, full of boundless energy and an all round nice guy. Four days spent just baking bread may sound excessive but the days passed too quickly in the idyllic rather other-wordly setting of the School of Artisan Food, a place where the sun always shines, the high-spec kitchens are always spotless, the right utensils and ingredients are always to hand and everything comes out of the oven looking and tasting pretty damn good (though I say so myself)

The School of Artisan Food is a brave new venture established on the Welbeck Estate, the rather grand rural retreat of the Duke of Portland and home to various branches of the Cavendish-Bentinck-Parente families (sorry have rather lost track of the complex family tree). The family seat itself, Welbeck Abbey, is not open to the public. The people behind the School are owners Alison & William Parente (son Joe runs the farm shop and bakery too), managing director Gareth Kennedy and an incredible stable of artisan food gurus – Randolph Hodgson founder of Neal’s Yard Dairy for cheese, Andrew Whitley author of Bread Matter for baking to name but two. It’s a not for profit organisation (a company limited by guarantee) with funding provided in part by the East Midlands Development Agency.

Coming up the drive in my taxi on day 1 of the course, I assumed this was the family seat:

but this is merely a set of almshouses known as “The Winnings” as the cost of building was funded by a former Duke’s racing habit.

Horses appear often in the family history and the estate is home to a splendid stone-built indoor riding school which in its heyday was second only in size to the famous Vienna Riding School.

The School itself is housed in the Estate’s former fire station and is approached across a handsome cobbled courtyard:

By 10 o’clock on Monday morning, the first day of the course, I and my fellow students, 15 of us in total, had settled into our workstations in the School teaching kitchen.

What sort of person goes on a 4 day artisan breadbaking course? Well, all sorts. We were approximately 50:50 men and women and ages ranged from I think late teens to early 60s. Generally a friendly and cooperative group of people with a shared interest and thankfully no hint of rivalry or competitiveness, in fact a great willingness to share ideas, knowledge and experiences.

There were a couple of chefs in the group wanting to expand their repertoire but this is not a course aimed at turning out master bakers after just 4 days. The techniques and recipe quantities were firmly aimed at the domestic rather than a commercial setting. I would say the majority of people on the course were enthusiastic amateurs – one of whom was so enthusiastic in fact that he’d built his own wood-fired bread oven with a capacity of 30 loaves in his back garden in Aberdeenshire!

Day 1 focused on the basics, the raw ingredients of breadmaking, and 3 basic recipes for white, wholemeal and malthouse loaves raised with nicely domesticated commercial yeast and shaped and baked in tins.

The basic ingredients of breadmaking are of course very simple – flour, yeast, water and salt – yet a lot of myths are propounded about them. We used Shipton Mill organic flour throughout the 4 days of the course as this was a range Emmanuel was already familiar with from his previous baking career. Quite a few myths were debunked when going through this list of basic ingredients:

1) You don’t need to use expensive crushed Maldon salt – regular table salt is just fine (excuse the pun…)

2) Either fresh or dried yeast (as long as the dried yeast hasn’t been messed about with) is equally good as long as you dissolve it in water first.

3) Neither bottled mineral water nor water warmed to blood heat are necessary to make good bread – just use room temperature water out of your tap, even when making up a sourdough starter.

4) There’s no need to add fat or sugar to your bread dough – all that you need is in the flour itself.

5) Finally, and most radically, making a sourdough starter is dead, dead simple. Simply mix together a teaspoon of rye flour and a teaspoon of water in a small container, cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours then repeat the process and you’re away. After 4 days you’ll have a lively starter ready to be bulked up with either white or rye flour and you’re ready to bake your very own sourdough loaf.

It really was that simple. I’ve been put off sourdough baking before because of the complex recipes involving grapes, raisins, molasses, orange juice, apple juice plus other more esoteric ingredients. Then there were the tales of exploding starters, icky smells, dead starters, yellow mould, pathogens and worse. Emmanuel in his charming and direct style showed us how simple it was.Here’s the rye sourdough Emmanuel passed round on day 1, ready to be prodded and poked:

And for the sake of completeness, here’s one of Emmanuel’s white sourdough starters. Like a conjuror he breathed frothing bubbly life back into a piece of frozen sourdough, a rather pasty piece of dry sourdough and a more liquid version and all three performed fantastically.

I’m going to conclude this post with a slightly obsessive time series set of pics of my very own rye starter, conceived at Welbeck and now resident in my kitchen in Altrincham:

Here’s the flour and water freshly mixed on day 1 (iPhoto tells me it’s 11 Oct at 13.26 precisely)

and already the next day there are signs of wild yeasty fermenting life in my baby! This photo is dated 12 October at 14.27.

Fermentation is clearly well-established by the following morning 13 October at 09.26

And by the end of day 4 I was ready to take home by lovely bouncing starter ready for baking!

I’m pleased to report that it’s producing great bread – a wonderfully moist and light rye loaf most recently. In fact, must go and give it a feed now…

More bread stuff to follow on my return from holiday to Egypt – let’s hope Tim can keep the starters going in my absence.

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