Last week, I received (possibly) the best birthday present ever: a sourdough making course at the E5 bakehouse.
Like most bakeries these days, the E5 bakehouse is an artisan bakery and coffee shop. However, what makes the E5 stand out from its’ competitors is its focus on sourcing high quality, locally sourced ingredients to produce food that is good for the environment, your stomach and your wallet!
The courses are typically held on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at the back of the bakery and last 6 hours. Having taken the day off work to view a house in Hither Green anyway, I opted for the Thursday course.
The course itself begins at 11am. However, I would advise you to get there early as you get to try out some of their excellent tea, coffee and sourdough before the course begins!
Once everyone had arrived, we put on our aprons and got stuck in!
The first of the breads was the 66% rye bread.
We were each allocated an ingredient to measure out and share among the 12 of us.
I was on salt measuring duty (the most important step and must be measured to the gram!)
Then it was time to mix the raw ingredients with our hands (there was ALOT of hand washing involved!)
Once we had mix the ingredients for the 66% rye, we moved onto the ciabatta
Despite its looks, the ciabatta was easily the best one to mix (due to the olive oil)
We then moved onto the bagels, which listed sugar and (surprisingly) malt powder as core ingredients!
We were suddenly hit by an incredible smell: the pastry chefs were working to make our tea-time cakes (a chocolate mousse cake, a lemon semolina cake and some rhubarb and custard tarts)
The perfect working environment!
Whilst the bread mixes rested, we were shown around the rest of the bakery.
I want all these books!
Temperature recordings of the refreshment of the starters
Pete (our teacher) then gave us a taste of the Hackney Wild (E5’s signature bread) before we made our own
As breadmaking is very tiring, we were treated to lunch. And what a lunch it was!
Not only did we have sausage and lentil stew, we were also provided with poached apricots, sliced beetroot, mushroom pate sourdough toast, pickled carrot salad, FIVE different slices of bread and a beautifully aged cheddar!
The chef even squeezed us some fresh orange juice!
After lunch, we were taught how to shape our bagels. I won’t ruin it for you, but in essence, there are two methods: the palm and the thumb poke (very technical terms!)
(FYI the thumb poke method seemed to produce superior bagels)
After giving the other three breads a quick fold, we settled down for tea and cakes
The chocolate mousse cake was like eating a dark chocolate cloud; the rhubarb egg tart was possibly the BEST egg tart I have ever had (yes, that includes those from Macau!) and the pecan pie was just so moorish! Princi, eat your heart out!
After we had given the bread one last fold, we shaped the breads and prepared them for baking. After 35 minutes, a wonderful smell wafted through the bakery…..it was our bread!
The results don’t look too bad, hey?
Towards the end of the course, we were given starters, flour, a scrapper and a banneton to take home. This was in addition to our loaves of bread, bagels and recipe book!
In all honesty, this was the best bread-making course I have been on. Although it cost £120, I feel that it was worth every penny (the one at Bread ahead is £150) and was the perfect lesson for those who have a phobia of making bread (this includes me!)
I won’t give away all the hints and tricks that we were taught, but one thing that I will share is that, when baking bread, put a tin of boiling water in the oven as the steam will lead to a thorough bake with an awesome crust!