Learning More About Bread

I have been making most of our bread for over 30 years. Originally I used to use yeast as the raising agent but since Breadzilla (another post about her sometime in the future) came into my life a decade ago, gifted by an American colleague who really knows her bready stuff, most of what I have made has been almost exclusively sourdough. Baking bread a relaxing thing to do and you get wonderful stuff to eat at the end of the day – what’s not to like?

Occasionally I have wondered what profession I might have chosen had I not been a scientist and the more I think about it the more I am convinced that a life spent as the village baker would have been extremely satisfying … albeit probably not one that would have lead to the comfortable retirement I am enjoying today.

And so … last weekend I went on a course run by a nearby artisanal baker (the baker’s own description). This course is run only every two years for a maximum of four people so when the chance came I grabbed it with alacrity and a pocket full of dollars. Boulangerie Desrosiers ( http://boulangeriedesrosiers.com) is a small operation that describes itself thus: « At Boulangerie Des Rosiers, there’s a commitment to use ancient grains and bake traditional breads. We take great pride in working with artisans all over Québec, from farmers to miller even if we mill on site all our whole grain flour. » It’s the quality of their bread that calls to me and the fact that they use ancient grains such as spelt, teff and einkorn rather than modern high-tech, high-gluten wheats that especially appealed. I have been devising breads of my own using long, slow fermentation of low-gluten spelt flours for a while now and wanted to take this approach to the next level.

Mission accomplished and much learned – not least of which was how to really handle wet and sticky dough that I have always struggled with. Came home with:

  • Wheat and rye baguette
  • Country loaf (wheat and spelt)
  • Low gluten spelt and buckwheat
  • Plain wholemeal bâtard

Everyone should make some sourdough bread for themselves, their families and friends.

Some images from the day (and a concluding video not from the day):

Two other apprentices and the master baker (right)

$60,000 of German bread oven … amazing

Taking out the end product

My four loaves

Wheat and rye baguette

End of a successful day

And the video – this is quite interesting …