Sunday, October 16, 2011

'Going Wild' Bread workshop at Plumpton Mill

Some of you may know that tragically my sourdough culture died over the summer, at only 6 months old. It suffered two weeks of neglect and starvation whilst I was away on holiday (having hired someone to feed the cat, but having totally forgotten about the needs of my sourdough culture). Resuscitation failed and I have been without sourdough ever since. So I was really looking forward to the workshop I booked at Plumpton Mill near Lewes (Sussex). I didn't know much about the place, but I did know we were going to learn about making sourdough.

During the 5 hour course we learned to make a loaf of sourdough, flat-breads, and some chocolate/cinnamon pastries. The course is run by Robin van Creveld, founder of Community Chef ( I picked up many useful tips for keeping a sourdough culture (or 'mother' as it is also called) alive and how to achieve great baking results. We were also given a cup of Robin's own starter to take home, so I am happy to say I now have a new 'mother'! 

My new 'mother'!

Whilst the bread was rising we were given a tour of the mill. As a food geek I found this absolutely fascinating. The mill itself dates back to 1575 and ran up until WW1, after which it fell into neglect. Paul and Carol Nicholson bought the mill 12 years ago and have lovingly restored it to it's former glory. It is now a fully working water mill and they produce flour from locally grown grains. We were lucky enough to see it working. I was amazed at the engineering involved, and how sustainable it is to produce flour in this way.

The mill in action

At the end we were treated to a delicious vegetarian lunch. The mill and house are beautiful and it was the perfect setting for this course. I am off to make some sourdough now. 

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