Monday, 26 September 2011

Unearthing Artisan Baking at Brasserie Bread

A big thanks to Sarah from Brasserie Bread for inviting me to attend their Unearthing Artisan Bakery class. Under the direction of our instructor for the night Matt Brock we did so much it is hard to know where to begin!

Caramelised Garlic Bread
During the evening we made Brasserie Bread's caramelised garlic bread from scratch. It was fantastic to get some hands on tips from an expert like Matt on different kneading techniques. I've been doing quite a bit of research for my sourdough project by reading different books, but the only real way to learn is by experience. Simon made an excellent video of the evening which will be a great guide to refer back to. It's all in the wrist.

I went a bit crazy with the amount of garlic I added to my dough. I'm certainly in no danger of being attacked by a vampire anytime soon!

We got to take home the warm rolls we had baked.

Factory Tour
While our dough was proving we were taken for a mini factory tour. It was around 8pm by the time we got into the factory and all the baking shifts had finished for the day. I would have loved to have seen the factory in full flow, but it was still good to check out a professional artisan bakery.

Everything begins with the sourdough starter. There was a dedicated cool room for the huge buckets of starter. I can't remember exactly, but I think they have ~200kg of their 18yr old starter. It makes the 100g I have in my own fridge look quite pathetic!!

The first stage in the process is the large room where all of the dough is made, given it's initial prove and shaped into the loaves. At the opposite end of the work area from the starter, are a series of large temperature controlled rooms where the shaped loaves are placed for their long slow overnight prove.

The second stage is the oven room where all the loaves are baked. The temperature controlled proving rooms can be accessed directly from baking room allowing for the seamless flow of the dough through the bakery. There were pizza style ovens and also full height ovens where racks of smaller loaves can be baked on trolleys wheeled in and out of the ovens.

Once baked the bread proceeds onto the final stage of the process, the packing room. Here all of the bread is sorted and divided up into individual orders ready for collection.

I have to be honest and say that the place looked like organised chaos! There were huge whiteboards in each room with indecipherable scrawl all over them. I think part of the induction into the bakery must be how to understand the code!

We also popped into the pastry room where we got to sample some of the goodies that were being packaged up to be sent out for orders. Sorry if your box arrived missing a couple of the fabulous coconut cakes above. I couldn't resist.....

Brioche Coulibiac

In between the baking and factory tour we somehow managed to fit in making our own dinner. We first made a little parcel from a pancake, sauteed mushrooms, Russian mustard, boiled eggs and salmon fillets. Once we'd made our parcels we wrapped them in some brioche dough and baked them in the oven.

The brioche makes the dish quite rich. The usual portion size is usually only half a coulibiac, but I might have eaten all of it......

Overall a very good evening. It was nice to get some hands on baking tips and to see inside a professional bakery. I didn't pick up as many sourdough tips as I was hoping for, but then it wasn't really a sourdough course. (Brasserie Bread have a dedicated sourdough course.)

My photos of the evening are here.


  1. glad you could make the class and found it useful :-)

  2. That pastry room was heavenly! I wanted one of everything! :)

  3. It's interesting looking around that place isn't it. I was fascinated to see the huge pile of discarded bread that was going off to feed pigs... I would have happily schnaffled a few loaves!

  4. All the discarded bread looked pretty good, I wanted to taste some and had to restrain myself!

    I think it's a bit strange they make so much excess bread. A bit I could understand, but there were five huge bins of the stuff on my visit.