Sourdough Course, Lesaffre, Lille, July 2015

Lesaffre UK & Ireland were pleased to host the third annual Sourdough course at the Lesaffre Baking Centre in Lille in conjunction with the Company in July 2015; with delegates selected from various colleges including Tameside, Sheffield, Dublin Institute of Technology, Belfast Met, Neath Port Talbot, Leeds and the National Bakery School in London. These students were joined by delegates from Burns the Bread, Dunn’s of Crouch End, Euphorium Bakery and the Apple Pie Bakery in Cumbria.

After an uneventful journey through the Eurotunnel we arrived at the Baking Centre in the afternoon of the first day; where the students and trainees had a tour of the facilities including a look at the test bakeries and laboratories where yeast and improvers undergo QA testing.

Following this, the course proper began with a PowerPoint presentation about the various aspects of sourdough production, touching on legislation, production methods, measurement and controls. The afternoon ended with the preparation of sourdoughs ready for dough making the following day, and then the group retired to the hotel for dinner.

The second day was spent producing different types of bread using the sourdoughs prepared the night before, along with one that had been started about 6 months previously to show the effect of flavour development in sourdough over time. The students had an opportunity to experience the handling of very soft and highly fermented dough.

In addition, a comparison was made between moulding baguette by hand and by machine, with emphasis on the differences in the final crust and crumb quality and texture. Using setters to load the oven was a new experience for many of the students, but they soon picked up the principles. The result was a range of breads with different flavour profiles, crust and crumb characteristics according to the different sourdoughs and bread making used to produce them.

The students also learned the principle behind the double hydration method for making ciabatta; which gives a light product with an open texture and a deeply rounded flavour. There was an opportunity to taste all of these breads as they accompanied the buffet lunch that was provided; and discussion of bread making continued throughout the meal.

The weather was kind and in the evening the group were able to enjoy some of the sights of the city of Lille before dining in a brasserie on French cuisine with a Belgian twist.

The third day was spent using sourdoughs in sweet products and pastry, with the students making croissant, Danish Pastries and Brioche. Their creativity was apparent in the different brioche shapes that they produced, and different fruit combinations used in their Danish work. In the afternoon, the students were divided into teams and challenged to invent a bread product that uses sourdough. The ideas flowed and some spectacular products were devised including a chocolate and pear brioche, a cherry and hazelnut rye loaf and a focaccia topped with onions and roasted peppers.

After a fitting vote of thanks to the Baking Centre technicians Richard Brant and Julien Jubin the whole party piled back into the minibus, laden with tasty goodies, for the journey home. All in all, a very worthwhile experience that appeared to be enjoyed by the whole company.