Our speaker for the April meeting was Dave Francis, who taught us some of the basics of making sourdough bread.
It’s always great to have someone who is very passionate about their craft and Dave certainly is. He gave us a real insight into how bread is made, from start to finish, and explained the differences between traditional methods and those used to mass-produce loaves for supermarkets, which was very interesting.
The first half of the evening was mostly taken up with making our own dough. Everyone was given the right ingredients and set to work mixing and kneading. It was a messy process and involved a lot more water than most people were used to, but Dave seemed happy with the results and instructed everyone on what to do with the dough once we got it home.
After we had tidied up and had a quick cup of tea, it was time to hear a bit more about the process of making sourdough, including how the starter (the bit which gets the whole process going when you begin mixing) is made.
Dave had thoughtfully brought in starters at different stages to show us what their appearance, size and – most distinctively – smell should be like. We all got a chance to have a look at what we should be aiming for, and some of the ladies even had a go at grinding the raw ingredients which looked like very hard work!
In true Blue Peter style, Dave produced some sourdough loaves he had baked earlier so we could all try a piece. It was a useful guide for us so that, when we baked our dough at home, we could get an idea of whether it tasted as it should, particularly as sourdough has a very different flavour to ordinary bread.
It was a really interesting evening and even those of us who had baked bread before learned something new. Dave has also allowed us to reproduce his recipe for perfect sourdough, which can be found here: Sourdough.