sourdough school

A few weeks ago, I spent a wonderful day at Vanessa Kimbell's Sourdough School held in her beautiful house in a Northamptonshire village.
A group of us spent the day sitting around Vanessa's kitchen table learning the intricacies of sourdough baking.

There were lots of tips and hints and background theory as well as plenty of hands-on practical sessions.
One of the main points I learned was the difference between a starter and a levain; previously an area of confusion for me.
The starter or 'mother' is usually kept in the fridge, needs to be refreshed from time to time and is used to make the levain. To make a levain, a couple of tablespoons of the starter is mixed with flour and water and left to ferment. The levain is then mixed with more flour, water and salt and used to make the loaf. The remaining starter can be kept in the fridge for another time.

Other points of interest were the 'no knead' method Vanessa showed us which simply involves resting and gently folding the dough whilst it proves and the invaluable hands- on tips for shaping the dough into a 'boule'.

Back home, I have been practising and am pleased with the results.
 Vanessa doesn't leave you 'high and dry' after the course either as she has an area of her website dedicated to students of her courses (we were given a password) full of detailed notes and advice - invaluable when back in your own kitchen.

The loaves I have made have a delicious rounded flavour and leftover bread makes the best toast!

And today I had some for my lunch with hummous  and salad.

All in all, Vanessa's course was a great day, which I would certainly recommend to anyone interested in sourdough baking.
Oh, and did I mention the delicious home-made lunch served to us round a huge table in Vanessa's beautiful garden and the very useful 'goody' bag given to us as we left, including a banneton, a jar of sourdough starter and a lame for slashing the dough.


  1. Looking forward to sampling some!! X

  2. Sounds wonderful, I am afraid I cheat and use a bread making machine.

  3. That does sound like a day very well spent. I love to eat sourdough bread (the baker at our local farmers market has gone 'big' so his stall and loaves are no more), and especially with hummous, but I've never tried making it. I scare easily!

  4. That sourdough looks delicious! Being gluten-free means I can only dream of eating lovely bread (bread NEEDS gluten to taste good, in my humble opinion) and sourdough is one of my absolute favourites.
    I'm intolerant rather than allergic so I do occasionally fall off the wagon. A bit of stomach ache can be endured when there's freshly-baked bread (or cake) on offer...
    Glad you mastered it and that you're enjoying eating it too. No bitterness here, only longing!
    S :)

  5. Sounds like a fabulous day... I'm off to check out her website!


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