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Looking back at Fattoria 2018

During a 5-day course I have very little time to write blogs or take photos. I get into the kitchen every morning by 05:30, 06:00 at the latest. The first two days I’m normally on my own. From then on, someone normally volunteers to join me, to experience refreshing leavens for use that day, and undertake other last minute preparations. Once that’s accomplished the wood-fired ovens need to be fired for the first bake of the day. About 08:00 there’s enough time to visit the local café for cappuccino and/or an espresso and a piece of pastry. More often than not I’m joined by fellow bakers from the course.

Here are a few statistics from our two recent 5-day courses at Fattoria degli Usignoli in Tuscany.

  • Used over 150kg of a variety of flours from Italy, United Kingdom, Canada and United States
  • Had 100% success with each participant creating their own sourdough leaven
  • Used 3 different sourdough leavens
  • Baked in excess 140 loaves including 90 sourdoughs, plus baskets-full of grissini
  • Used 4.5li of extra virgin olive oil and at least 120li of mineral water
  • Everything baked in wood-fired ovens
  • Had participants from 4 Continents
  • Participants took home lots of knowledge, as well as bannetons, scrapers, grignettes, bread knives and embroidered aprons
  • Cooking for ourselves in the School we ate real Tuscan sausages produced by the Village butcher, had the last of the season’s artichokes and asparagus as well as delicious melons from Southern Italy.

Some participants attended to learn how to bake for themselves and friends. Some have business ventures in mind and others are now running bread-making courses of their own.  Two participants already own wood-fired ovens and at least one more is considering the investment.

Unfortunately, choreographing these courses leaves little time to take photographs but below you’ll find a few.

Dates for the 2019 courses are now on the Artisan Bread School website.

  • Part of the first group on the 5-day course.

 

 

Artisan Bread School at Fattoria degli Usignoli May 2018

The next 5-day courses at Fattoria degli Usignoli begin in 10 days. The car’s fully loaded & travel arrangements made.

The 4-day journey takes me through the French countryside to collect fantastic bread knives in Thiers, passing the mountain every cyclist knows, Mont Ventoux (yes, I have done the climb by bike). Then through the Mont Blanc tunnel into Italy, down the Aosta Valley to Vercelli where there are two excellent restaurants. The next day I arrive at Fattoria degli Usignoli in the rolling Tuscan hills just South East of Florence. Two and a half days of prep and the first group of participants arrive.

The course begins Monday morning & the very first thing we do is to create our own personal sourdough leavens. Then we start the bread-making, three different loaves each day. More than 35 kitchen-hours later we’re eating our final meal together, sourdough bagel and smoked salmon with Philly cream cheese.

Among the breads we will have made during our 5-days together have been:

  • Hakan’s Sourdough: King of Bread (using 100% hydration leaven)
  • our original Sourdough: King of Bread (using a leaven of 56.3% hydration)
  • Semolina sourdough (100% hydration leaven)
  • Sourdough Bagel (100% hydration leaven)
  • Focaccia
  • Ciabatta
  • Grissini.

All totally hand made and baked in wood-fired ovens.

Our flours come from the United Kingdom &, of course, Italy. The delicious Extra Virgin Olive Oil is from Puglia in Italy. Time is the important ingredient that makes the difference in our breads; a long, slow fermentation resulting in bread that’s good to eat and good for your digestion.

Two days off and we begin the 2nd course. As ever the groups of participants are diverse, this year from Brazil, India, The United Kingdom & The United States of America.