I am of the opinion that anyone can cook and create a decent dish if they can follow a recipe. If you read the instructions you are almost guaranteed good results, right? Most of the time anyway But there are some recipes that would be far more successful, and less scary, if I learnt them visually, hands-on, by a teacher, a parent, a friend etc.
For me, this is dough - both pastry and bread.
Bread is one of my most favourite foods. Fresh bread and thick cold butter is my guilty pleasure. I have wanted to bake my own bread for a while, but after making my own pastry for the first time recently I was even more scared to make bread. How do I know when it feels right?? Is it wet enough? Is it too wet? When do I stop kneading?? Aargh, so many questions that a simple recipe couldn’t answer for me.
So you can imagine how excited I was to be invited, along with several other food bloggers, by Sarah at Brasserie Bread to learn, hands-on, the art of bread making at their Artisan Grains & Seeds Baking Workshop held two weeks ago. I’m a big fan of their bread, especially the caramelised garlic bread, sour cherry loaf, granary loaf… I could go on!
We arrived to a table of full of bowls, filled with the different ingredients that would soon transform into wondrous loaves of bread. Training Manager Matthew Brock, our teacher, explained the agenda and what we were to create this day: a Multigrain Struan loaf, a plain baguette, an EPI baguette and granary dinner rolls.
A staple food of humans for the past 30,000 years, poor bread cops a lot of flack these days, and is often unfairly labelled as evil! carbs! and, by some, a food to mostly avoid (I’m not speaking of those with gluten allergies and intolerances of course). Sure, the $1-a-loaf white bread at the supermarket may not be your best choice on the shelf, but the artisan products at Brasserie Bread are full of quality ingredients that are good for you.
So what is artisan baking?
Brasserie Bread says, “An artisan baker is a craftsperson who is trained to the highest skill level to, mix, ferment, shape (hand mould) and bake a hand crafted loaf of bread.” This is not industrial, mass-produced bread. Their dough is cold-fermented and slow processed, they use organic ingredients that are nutritious and with no preservatives. With their popular kid’s baking classes, it is also about passing on the knowledge, skills, and passion to the next generation. I love that.
But before we begin, we prepare our senses, and bellies, with a taste of some of Brasserie Bread’s delicious pastries, which are warm and flaky after being refreshed in the oven for 5 minutes or so.
Our first task was making the dough for the Multigrain Struan. Our ingredients were pre-measured and prepared for us, as this bread actually takes 2 days to make due to the various components. ‘Struan’ is a Gaelic word meaning ‘the convergence of streams’, and is a fitting name for this bread which brings together a biga, soaker, and final dough.
The ‘biga’ is a pre-ferment starter made of bread flour mix (40% organic stone-ground wholemeal flour, 40% bakers meal, and 20% organic unbleached plain flour), fresh yeast, and water. This is then refrigerated for 8-12 hours prior to using. This biga gives the bread its mature flavour characteristics.
The ‘soaker’ contains bread flour mix (as above), grains (linseed, sunflower and rolled oats), river salt and milk, and after mixing is rested at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Soaking the grains prior to adding them to your bread dough hydrates them, which prevents them taking any moisture out of the dough.
Along with the biga and soaker, the Struan contains organic wholemeal flour, salt, fresh yeast, agave nectar and extra virgin olive oil. Salt will kill yeast in direct contact, so the fresh yeast and salt must be kept separate in the bowl at the start. The yeast is then rubbed into the flour before it is all mixed. Salt is used for flavour but will also control the yeast fermentation.
Multigrain Struan dough mixed, now time to rest
The process for creating the dough involves mixing, resting, kneading, fermenting, shaping, proving, and finally, baking! Kneading and working the dough well is essential to strengthen the gluten (the protein that gives the dough elasticity and chewiness), and this had us slapping the wet dough onto the bench, folding the dough onto itself, and repeating many times. The dough is wet and sticky at this stage, but we must resist temptation to add more flour. It’s quite a messy business, but a very fun one.
Clarissa of Eat My Shots and I rolling our baguettes (photo by Sarah)
Whilst the Struan was resting through its various stages, we learnt how to shape baguettes and dinner rolls with pre-prepared dough. I was a terrible judge of size and weight when it came to cutting off and dividing our pieces of dough, which resulted in some rather
uneven rustic shaped baguettes and rolls.
Thankfully, Matt helped us get the hang of rolling the dough into dinner rolls by using a circular cupping motion against the bench to shape it, and with practice knowing when the dough has reached the right consistency – a neat and tight boule that holds its shape.
The baguettes were rolled and the outer edging tucked in a few times, which visibly squeezed out the air bubbles. We chose the least perfect of our 2 baguettes to turn into an EPI – a beautiful wheat stalk shaped bread, rolled in a mixture of seeds including poppy, fennel, nigella, and sesame.
Scoring and shaping: the EPI is shaped by holding the scissors almost horizontal then cutting deeply and moving the pieces to opposing sides
Ta-da! My rustic breads ready for the oven.
Prior to baking we took to our baguettes and rolls with scissors and scalpels to complete their presentation by slashing, or scoring, the dough. The ‘seam’ of the dough is underneath and is the weak part of its form, so slashing the dough on top creates another weakness. This means that when the dough is baked it rises up, rather than the seam breaking underneath. Slashing is also done for signature and aesthetic reasons. It originated centuries ago when villagers would use a communal oven to bake. They would mark their loaves with their family sign so as to differentiate them from another’s.
Shaping using a circular cupped motion
The final resting
Then into the oven!
Back to our Struan, we used the same technique as the dinner rolls to get them into a circular shape, except this time using both hands due to its size. After a final resting, a coating of rolled oats, and slashing, they went into the oven to transform.
Whilst our efforts were baking, it was time to don hairnets for a tour of the factory where their everyday magic happens…
Food bloggers descend
Caramelised garlic bread (the missing one had gone straight to our workshop room for eating)
Cooling the caramelised garlic bread
The hazy, flour-filled dough room
Dividing the dough into equal pieces before shaping
Filling tart cases with frangipane, with a vat of chocolate in the background!
Brasserie Bread operates 365 days a year, pretty much 24/7, to supply their products to over 300 restaurants, cafes and other retailers throughout Sydney, as well as stocking their on-site retail store and cafe. As we are guided through the production facilities and pastry kitchen, we are surrounded by exciting sights of huge ovens, rows of freshly baked loaves, tubs of dough, and shelves of pastry tarts; and yep, you bet I felt like a kid in a candy store!
The money shot
We finished our workshop with a tasting of their breads, accompanied by wine and a platter of smoked ocean trout, taramasalata, Pepe Saya salted and unsalted butters, Tarago River blue cheese, Meredith Dairy goat cheese, and a gloriously indulgent baked Fromager des Clarines – stud the cheese with garlic and fresh thyme, pour over white wine then bake in a moderate oven for around 15 minutes.
After our tasting it was time to meet our finished bread, and I must say that I was very proud of what we had created! The bread freezes really well which is lucky as we went home with bags full of it, and we still have several pieces wrapped in foil in our freezer.
Below is the recipe for the Struan, should you wish to try it at home. If, like me, you need hands-on instruction, Brasserie Bread is holding this special workshop as part of the Crave Sydney Food Festival on October 12, and they also hold regular baking classes throughout the year. The classes are interactive, lots of fun, and very informative; they run for 3 hours and are $150 per person.
A huge thanks to Matt and Brasserie Bread for teaching me that baking bread isn’t so scary!
Have you ever made your own bread?
Multigrain Struan by Brasserie Bread
- 30g bread flour mix*
- 85g grains (cooked and/or uncooked)**
- 2g river salt
- 85g milk
- 112g bread flour mix*
- 1g fresh yeast***
- 85g water (approx 21ºC)
- 200g soaker
- 200g biga
- 60g organic wholemeal flour
- 2g salt
- 7g fresh yeast***
- 15g agave nectar (you could try honey or molasses)
- 7g extra virgin olive oil
*This is a blend of 40% Kialla organic stone-ground wholemeal flour, 40% Manildra bakers meal and 20% Kialla organic unbleached plain flour
**Brasserie Bread use a mixture of soaked sunflower seeds, linseeds, boiled grains and rolled oats
***Fresh yeast may be substituted with half the amount of dry yeast
- Mix all ingredients together, cover and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours
- Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough ball
- Knead for 2 minutes, rest for 5 minutes, then knead again for 1 minute
- Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours
- Chop biga into 6 small pieces and lightly dust with flour
- Combine soaker, biga, and other ingredients, and work together for 5-7 minutes
- Rest for 5 minutes, knead again for 1 minute to strengthen gluten
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and bulk ferment for 45 minutes (you can ‘knock back’ twice during this time to further strengthen the gluten)
- Shape into a boule, roll in rolled oats or dust with wholemeal flour, and prove at room temperature for 45-60 minutes
- Slash top with a sharp blade and place in oven, heated at 220ºC, preferably onto a preheated stone base
- Start baking at 220ºC, inject steam for 2-3 seconds (you can do this at home by chucking a few ice cubes in the oven), reduce heat to 180ºC and finish baking for 40-50 minutes
- Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing
Chanel attended Artisan Baking Workshop – Seeds & Grains as a guest of Brasserie Bread.
1300 966 845
1737 Botany Rd, Banksmeadow
Bakery and Cafe opening hours:
Monday to Friday 7.00am to 3.00pm, Saturday and Sunday 8.00am to 2.00pm
Brasserie Bread Melbourne (opening soon)
1300 966 845
150 Thistlethwaite St, South Melbourne