2 Day French – with Sourdough


Course Description

Work with levains and poolish to capture the essence of French breads. During the two-day course learn how to manage the sourdough leaven (levain) and use both wheat and rye levains to make incomparable rustic breads which keep for days, some with nuts and raisins added. The flagship loaf will be the rustic pain de campagne.

With the poolish enjoy a vast baguette workshop, and learn handskills for making French shapes. In yeasted pastries choose either croissants or brioche.

If you have any inclination at all towards baking, I recommend making sourdough yourself. Paul Merry’s PANARY courses in Dorset are an excellent way to start: he has a knack for demystifying a process that is sometimes overcomplicated in bread-making books.

Nikki DuffyThe Guardian Weekend

Course Programme

10:00 amArrival, coffee, discuss programme
Make WHITE DOUGH for FOUGASSE & boules
- before adding olive oil, cut off some for pate fermentée
- cut off amount for boule
- use rest for FOUGASSE, adding olive oil, plain or with olives
Discuss LEAVENS - discuss terminology (LEVAIN)
- keep unrefreshed leaven for Levain Baguette and
p de Campagne
- Refresh leaven, WHEAT SOURDOUGH (Pain au Levain)
- demonstrate PANARY’s French levain method
- refresh enough for tomorrow’s use
Discuss Sourdough:
What is it?
Catching a wild yeast
The role of yeasts and bacteria
Routine refreshment
Long-term keeping
11:00 amMake LEVAIN BAGUETTE dough (hybrid) & make a
typical pain de campagne with added rye, (raisins), walnuts
- folds (discuss), fold the boule
12:00 pmPrepare Leaven/sponge for tomorrow’s Normandy Cider Rye
Work the fougasse and the boules
1:00 pmLUNCH
Reading/discussing/ notetaking about Sourdough
Work the baguettes &
the pain de campagne
Finish baking, crusty in the French style
4:00 pmMake POOLISH for tomorrow’s baguette
5:00 pmMake CROISSANT Dough to be placed in refrigerator
6:00 pmDrinks in the bakery
DAY TWO
8:30 amPaul to refresh levain for pain au levain
9:00 amStudents inspect it
9:15 amBegin CROISSANT pastry laminations, butter in dough
9:30 amMake BRIOCHE dough
10:00 amMake NORMANDY CIDER RYE
10:30 amMake PAIN AU LEVAIN
Continuing Croissant rolling/folding
11:00 amBAGUETTE doughmaking, methods (1) & (2)
Brioche to refrigerator
Fold pain au levain
Fold Normandy Rye
12:30 pmFold baguette doughs
Make the croissants
Pain au levain to proving baskets
1:00 pmLUNCH
Proving and shaping the doughs: baguettes,
Normandy Rye, brioche
Finish baking
Refresh leavens
Tour the Mill
5:30 pmCourse finishes