Le Pain Quotidien

Some of you will know that I spent 3 years at catering college and have a C&G’s 7/11 in Patisserie. It was not a course that I enjoyed and I ended up skipping most of the classes preferring to focus on my wine studies and a little bit of cooking. For reasons unknown to me I somehow passed my exams with zero ability. With the surge in popularity in baking over recent years I have tried to rediscover my very limited skills and now quite regularly bake my own bread. In fact it is quite rare to find a shop bought loaf in my home.

Some of the baking classes on offer.

Some of the baking classes on offer.

Sourdough is a bread I have attempted on numerous occasions but never managed to keep the starter going due to my travel schedule and forgetting to put it in a dormant state. So when I was invited with some other bloggers to attend a 2 hour course at Le Pain Quotidien to make a Sourdough (with a prepared started obviously) I jumped at the chance. I took my friend Paul, an inexperienced baker who runs the successful websites run247.com and tri247.com. We were welcomed with a choice of drinks from the menu of which their own Belgium style beer screamed out at us. We were soon joined by the others and our tutor joined us.

The table awaits for the 8 of us to start making our sourdough.

The table awaits for the 8 of us to start making our sourdough.

Didier, someone whose size I can only envy, was great explaining clearly what we would be doing at each step as we progressed through the different stages. I will not go into detail about making the Five Seed Sourdough as it was relatively easy mixing the starter with flour, salt, water and seeds. What I did learn was to pre-soak any seeds in water if using in your bread to protect them from getting burnt in the baking process which is a very useful tip.

Didier, our tutor was fantastic.

Didier, our tutor was fantastic.

The ingredients were all laid out in front of us pre-weighed.

The ingredients were all laid out in front of us pre-weighed.

Once the bread was moulded and scored we placed them into round molds for them to prove. This was an expedited process so the bread only had around 30 mins to rise when ordinarily it might have taken 1-2 hours. Before placing in the oven we put some bowls of water no the baking trays to aid the development of a crust. Whilst we were waiting for the bread to rise we took a seat and and enjoyed some tartine canapés which included a lovely smoked salmon. We were also offered another drink so this time opted for a house red wine which was very acceptable although I forgot to ask what it was.

Having got to know each other a little better it was time to recommence with our baking and the mood was even better. We had bonded well, had a drink and Holly in particular was in fine form with her skills as a Drama Teacher proving to be hilarious! Set out in front of us were the ingredients to make a Savarin Cake or Rum Baba. This was one dish I do remember making at college and loving so was pretty excited to learn how to do it again. This was got the wrists really working well in the mixing and I think all of us had to swap hands at least 3 or 4 times due to inexperienced muscles. It was well worth the effort and so we were piping the minute into the round moulds with a hold in the centre.

The recipe uses very little sugar as this is added after baking in the form of a stock syrup with a generous quantity of rum being added. The buns and placed into the liquid allowing it to soak in and I have to admit being rather generous with my soaking. To finish we piped some cream into the centre of the Savarin and tops it with raspberries. It was so tempting to cut into them and try but fortunately Didier portioned his up for tasting allowing us to take ours home along with out bread.

As an additional treat we were also allowed to pick a preserve and spread to take with us. I opted for a fig jam and a Speculoos which is made from Belgium cinnamon biscuits and is a whopping 600 calories per 100gms. This was delicious but one to be enjoyed in moderation.

I tried the  fig jam with the sourdough and loved it!

I tried the fig jam with the sourdough and loved it!

Classes are held at LPQ Borough, 15 Winchester Walk SE1 9AG and take place between 6pm-8pm. The price is £45 per person includes two organic beverages, tartine canapés, a jar of signature organic Noir chocolate spread and a jar of organic LPQ jam, plus your own organic baked treats to eat in and take home.

20th April – The Art of Vegan Baking: Vegan Polenta Peach Wine Cake and Vegan Raspberry & Super Seed Scone
Get creative with our vegan, fruity recipes. Peach wine meets polenta in a moist cake delight, while raspberry and seeds up the ante on our favourite springtime scone.

4th May– Apple & Rhubarb Tatin and Spelt Scone
Learn to make homemade puff pastry and then adorn it lovingly with apple and rhubarb, before turning your attention to an LPQ classic, the Spelt Scone.

18th May – Raw Vegan Chocolate Tart and Pumpkin Seed Sourdough Bread
Learn to bake an intriguing raw tart with rich chocolate, before adding a pop of pumpkin seeds to your special sourdough. These are recipes sure to impress your friends – vegan or otherwise.

8th June – Chocolate Lager Cake and Cheese & Bacon Muffin
Dads like baking too! And they certainly like eating. So why not treat your dad to an evening he won’t forget in a hurry? Cheese, bacon and lager screams, “Hey Dad, I love you”.

22nd June – Vegan Victoria Sponge with Strawberry and Vegan Roasted Fruit Tart
Tis the tennis season and we’ve got strawberry fever. Celebrate with us by learning to make these summertime treats, packed full of berry goodness.

Holly smells the stater sourdough mix.

Holly smells the stater sourdough mix.

Pouring the flour in the mix.

Pouring the flour in the mix.

The dough in the basket ready to prove.

The dough in the basket ready to prove.

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Piping into the Savarin mould.

Piping into the Savarin mould.

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Scoring the bread to help aid a crust.

Scoring the bread to help aid a crust.

Holly was in fine form.

Holly was in fine form.

The bread was beautiful.

The bread was beautiful.

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Paul showing his sourdough loaf.

Paul showing his sourdough loaf.

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The finished Savarins's

The finished Savarins’s