Learn to make authentic Sourdough
It's Time to make real bread
So much of what we eat has been reduced to a series of biochemical reactions, designed in a laboratory for the purpose of being translated to the manufacturing process. This has nothing to do with nourishment, beyond satisfying various legal requirements for truth in packaging and so on.
As human beings, we need to take back making food, because only when we do this, can we really take control of our own and our family's nutrition. We have given the bulk of our home cooking to the big companies, and it turns out they are too busy selling us stuff to really care about what they are doing to our food, our families, and our farms.
The accepted wisdom was that if you were in business, you would try not to kill your customers. It seems this rule has morphed for the new millenium - it's okay to kill your customer now, as long as you do it slowly.
It's time for the next wave of honest, artisan style food making to begin. It's frightening to think that 90% of our food is controlled by a couple of dozen corporations! It's even more frightening to consider that one of the first foods to be truly mass produced was bread.
The School of Sourdough is the brainchild of SourdoughBaker, a.k.a. Warwick Quinton. Warwick is one of Australia's original artisan bakers, and he has been making his amazing naturally leavened breads for about three decades. He has started and run over a dozen bakeries and cafes throughout NSW, always with the same 'from scratch' ethic - don't 'assemble' food, create it. Make something that matters.
Warwick's relentless focus on taking things back to their simplest and most meaningful state has led him to make what he calls Elemental Bread - bread that contains only the four elements of real bread - and nothing else is needed.
What are the elements? Flour. Water. Salt Fire.
The School of Sourdough aims to teach everyone, no matter where they are on their sourdough journey, the true art and craft of natural bread making, using these primary elements. Add to these time, temperature and fermentation, and you have all the necessary ingredients to make truly nourishing bread.
Aromatic Embers has collaborated with Warwick in the design and manufacture of 'Luna', his wood fired oven, as well as the relocatable bakery trailer which houses the oven and comprises a complete bake off facility.
Aromatic Embers are one of Australia's leading makers of commercial woodfired baking and smoking equipment.
Warwick's collaboration with Craig Miller, the brains and sometimes the brawn behind Aromatic Embers, has been going on now for over nine years.
Together, they have created a complete commercial range of woodfired baker's ovens. They are constantly developing and tweaking 'third world simple' technologies. You can see a variety of these devices here.
The School of Sourdough has been Warwick Quinton's vision for many years. Warwick's been a journeyman artisan baker, specialising in sourdough and naturally leavened breads, since about 1990. Over the years, Warwick has made millions of loaves of sourdough bread, and almost as many Danish pastries, espresso coffees and even croissants! He has owned and operated a string of bakeries and cafes, all noted for their unique and extraordinary popularity wherever they found their audience.
Warwick started the website www.sourdoughbaker.com.au back in 2009. He began putting the information he knew people should want to know about sourdough bread online. At that time, he found himself between bakeries, having lost a house and part of a family to one already. It was a painful experience, and one he hoped his own students would never have to replicate.
He was still enthused by the idea that his craft might one day find its way back to the center of people's lives - the idea that the bakery provided the staple food for everyone; whether you were a king or a pauper; everybody had to eat. The baker was viewed as a linchpin of community life; along with other important professionals like the butcher, the grain and produce merchant, and the smithy. Now the only professionals who matter are the lawyer, the accountant and the banker. Our corporately operated society has, as a bi product of its own efficiency, lost this connection to community forever.
While it's acknowledged that we can never go back to that time, certain aspects of it need to be reinvigorated, so that we don't lose our way any more than we already have. We need to embrace an economy, a life style, and a value system that places high worth on things truly made from the heart by hand, sustainably, ethically and affordably. We need to place some of our trust back into the people we know, rather than the faceless corporate machine. Particularly our food.
Back in 2007, Warwick found, to his surprise, that the bakery trade were not all that interested in making bread naturally. They had become completely addicted to bread improvers, and thought it seemed like stepping back into the last century. These bakers thought that making bread 'the hard way' was simply a thing of the past, like the horse and cart.
Warwick chose to make what he knew available to the home baker through a blog, Home Sourdough Bread. This morphed into another, more general blog, SourdoughBaker. This blog eventually paved the way for his own website to take shape. sourdoughbaker.com.au
He built the website to share his knowledge base with the world. Having gained a global following, and finding there was actually a small but very knowledgeable online community of bakers all over the place, Warwick decided to begin classes. In 2010, Warwick started teaching his techniques to the general public from his cafe and bakery, then situated in Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW.
Over the ensuing seven years, Warwick has evolved this course to become the Sourdough 101 Workshop, and then the Sourdough 102 Workshop. Later, observing that the bakery trade was slowly coming around to the idea that bread should be made the 'old fashioned way' again, Warwick put together the Sourdough 300 Series, specifically aimed at budding professional bakers and journeyman professionals who needed to upskill.
Lately, Warwick has become absorbed by 'Third World Simple' Technology, and is taking his School of Sourdough on the road, in the form of his Bush Baking series of workshops. His first trip, the Tour Down South, which is starting in June and finishing in September 2018, will be in his brand new teaching trailer, the Bush Bakery Mk II. It's a seriously off the grid baking classroom eztravaganza. You can read about it here.
The Bush Baking workshops are all about baking bread the way it was done over a hundred years ago - natural fermentation, simple tools, clever ways to do things and a woodfired oven.
Warwick's methods have become the production backbone of many bakeries around Australia and the world. He has consulted to many of our best bakers, and has taught thousands of home bakers his techniques. He has written a number of short guides and booklets, and is known around the world for his continued enthusiastic promotion of the natural baker's craft.
Sourdough bread is the original bread, and continues to be embraced by growing members of the general public as both nutritious and delicious.
'The Master Baker Class was the best training I received in a long time. Warwick has a wealth of knowledge about bread and is willing to share it, with great enthusiasm. A truly memorable experience with an amazing guy. Well worth the interstate trip !' - Arnaud (WA)
'Warwick taught me the nitty gritty of sourdough mixing , proofing & wood fired oven use - all the stuff that the books NEVER tell you.' - Michel the sourdough bread nerd. (QLD)
One Sourdough 300 Series Student had this to say:
'Warwick's blog gives an insight into who he is, and meeting him I found that he was the same person - open, friendly, honest and down to earth…the experience was completely immersive; from maintaining a sourdough starter, to learning how to do a bakers turn; and onwards to shaping, proofing, dusting and slashing the dough, all necessary before it gets deposited onto the floor of Warwick's amazing woodfired oven - this all happens in an idyllic bushland property setting in the foot hills of Watagan Mountains in the Lower Hunter Valley. There is no doubt he is a maestro of artisan sough dough bread making; his passion shines through in his relaxed mentoring style. The added conversation was a pleasant diversion. For any true lover of sour dough bread I can’t think of anybody better than Mr Quinton to guide and share his knowledge about The King Of Breads. I think the future of sour dough baking is safe in his hands. Thanks for the opportunity to share a momentous time that has sent me on my own journey of producing amazing sough dough bread .' - Richard (Phillipines)