Having shaken off its hemp-trousered image of old, the timeless art of sourdough bread making has entered a distinctly classier new age thanks to highly acclaimed Sydney-based bakers Brasserie Bread. Now, devotees (and the generally epi-curious) can learn the secrets of the craft with the launch of the bakery’s genuinely hands-on, artisan bread making workshops.

After launching their impressively slick South Melbourne outpost late last year, Brasserie has steadily amassed an adoring fan base of carb-loving Melburnians who laud the bakery for its wonderfully authentic European-style breads, pastries and cakes – all made to exacting techniques, with the best possible Australian ingredients and a whole lot of love.

The Artisan Baking at Home workshops offer participants an insight into the production practices employed by Brasserie’s master bakers. You’ll learn about sourdough fermentation and the art of hand shaping, as well as getting some background on the importance of high quality ingredients, all the while being privy to the kind of methods required to elevate a humble lump of flour, water and leaven into something truly magical.
Head baker Michael Klausen, who was in town for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and to launch the Melbourne arm of the workshops, led a lucky group of nascent bakers through their paces on the weekend. “Sourdough bread making uses a natural fermentation process similar to that of making wine and cheese and while it is considerably more time consuming than conventional methods, it’s exactly this that gives the bread the distinctive characteristics which make it so special,” he said.

During the satisfyingly tactile three-hour session, participants kneaded, stretched and slapped their dough into silky-smooth submission – with numerous rest periods in between to allow the dough to naturally rise and flavours to develop. Once buns were in the oven, there was welcome spread of Allpress coffee alongside antipasto, cheese and of course Brasserie’s own breads to revive any flagging spirits. This was followed by a tour of the bakery’s impressive commercial facilities, where we were given a bird’s eye view of one of Australia’s busiest and most highly respected wholesale artisan bakeries in action.

With autumn setting in and the cracking social pace of summer slowing down, we reckon this makes a perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday morning.

Sydney and Melbourne classes run each Saturday, with occasional classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Visit brasseriebread.com.au for details.

We have 4 tickets to a baking class this Saturday (5 May) – Artisan Baking at Home. To win email email us at win@broadsheet.com.au with the subject 'Brasserie Bread Class'.