I’ve been guilty of no updates for quite some time now and this is being done primarily to document an experiment. So, I’ll just report the essentials. Another one of my renewed experiments with 100% Whole Wheat. And unlike all the previous one that I could probably kill someone with, this turned out good. Crackling crust and a moist, chewy crumb.
The grey early morning with a dull sky. The clouds releasing sudden heavy showers at intervals and the green grass. The anticipation of meeting ‘The Bread Whisperer’ akka ‘Sujit Sumitran’. The towering Portuguese villa with canary yellow walls and Sujit welcoming me with his warm better half ‘Sudha’ and the gentle 16 year old dog ‘Ginger” and of course the fellow participants. Oh! And then I usher into the bread heaven where the magic happens. The simplest of the ingredients known to mankind- flour, salt, water and natural yeast is kneaded with love and patience which turn into the softest baby bottoms. The banettons are layered with the floured napkins and the soft pliable dough is scored to be baked. The clay wood fired oven is smoked. The eyes lit up as they go in the fire and the hearthy brown cedar wood lemony tang boules with a crackling crust emerge victorious and mature ready to be shared. And what is bread after all if not shared. The smell of freshly baked sourdough and the smell of raging rain. Knead I say more!!! Thanks Sujit Sumitran for lifetime of memories.
– Paayel Agarwal (Artisan Sourdough Bread Baking Workshop 17th July 2016)
Having fallen in love with all the amazing pictures posted by Sujit, the ‘Bread Whisperer’ and master artisan sourdough bread baker, I decided to take a break from the traffic-ridden, almost claustrophobic Bangalore life, for a wonderful weekend getaway to attend Sujit’s Sourdough Bread Workshop at his current idyllic residence in Goa. It was a wonderful experience – right from the warmest of welcomes, an excellent group of people from different places with the common interest in learning to bake bread the natural way for company, the fantastic set up inside an earth-y well maintained old house, the drinks, the conversation, the garden tour, the delicious food (that included herbed sourdough crackers, a Panzanella salad, Sujit’s flavourful breads, Sudha’s mouth-watering Kerala curries, and a fantastic bread pudding for dessert) and the entire gamut of sourdough bread baking from the master himself. Anyone considering to enter into the world of sourdough bread baking must do so from Sujit, because he is definitely the bread Whisperer who works magic with his fingers and his knowledge, by way of his experience of baking them almost everyday! A truly inspirational workshop, worth making a trip to Goa for. Thank you, Sujit, for instilling an addiction and the constant mentoring when in doubt.
– Shreya Ravi Kumar (Artisan Sourdough Bread Baking Workshop 19th June 2016)
5 stars doesn’t quite cover it. These Workshops exceeded all my expectations. You not only learn from the best but also get to meet some of the nicest people ever. If you are remotely interested in cooking/baking (or eating!), you do not want to miss this experience. Sujit & Sudha, you guys stole my heart!
– Smita Sharan (Appam & Curries Workshop and Artisan Sourdough Bread Baking Workshop 6th & 7th August 2016)
Appams and Stew, picture credit Heena Punwani
Kerala – God’s own country – also known as the land of spices has a rich culinary heritage and boasts of food that few of the ‘authentic’ restaurants even come close to.
The idea of a workshop on Kerala cuisine emerged from the countless requests we get every time,a sourdough bread baking workshop is held. So, here it is – a hands-on workshop facilitated by Sudha Sumitran, a home-chef, who will demonstrate traditional and time-honoured recipes from Kerala, that have been passed down from earlier generations. Recipes, that she tweaked while balancing the multiple roles of a working mother, without compromising on the flavour and goodness.
Picture Credit Heena Punwani
Nestled in the by lanes of Brittona , N. Goa , overlooking the peaceful flow of the Mandovi river back waters and lush mangroves in a big yellow Portuguese house, resides the Wizard of Sourdough himself …Sujit Sumitran , my friend / fellow food lover and propogater of the ‘ simple but rich’ life . His love and passion for the not so humble Sourdough Bread has to be experienced only first hand to understand the depth of madness. It’s an 8 hour process. His teaching method is impeccable and in a world of ‘jhat phat’ and instant gratitude, where you come out worse for wear, this is the secret. He teaches you the slow , loving, natural way to bake bread. Nothing is more fulfilling then baking your own bread , the aromas are exhilarating and he teaches you to do it right. My advice to anyone wanting to do something for themselves and themselves only ….go to the ‘Bread Whisperer ‘! You will not only do yourself a big favour, but imagine the kudos and bragging rights you will get from family and friends.
Best experience ever. HIC! – thanks to Sujit. BURP! – thanks to Sudha …..but for that ?…. You are going to have to join the class. – Kimmy Sheorey
Artisan Sourdough bread – handmade, healthy, crusty loaves, made with a natural starter and time as an ingredient – the way bread was made thousands of years ago. Bread, in which flavour rules and speed isn’t prioritised over nutrition. If you’re a bread lover, nothing beats the flavor and chewy texture of home made, sourdough bread. And the aroma and flavour of a warm, freshly baked loaf, right from your oven will make you trash the commercial crap that you’ve been eating as bread.
The hands-on workshop is facilitated by Sujit Sumitran, a self taught, artisan baker who bakes with easily available Indian ingredients. But wait – this is more than a workshop, it essentially is an idyllic Goan day spent with like-minded souls, unhurriedly making bread while gazing at the river flowing across the street and chomping on a simple home-cooked meal, that money can’t buy. The only thing that’s missing is a siesta, but then with like minded company – it would be difficult to catch a few winks, when the conversation is all about changing the world – one bake at a time. 🙂
I’ve been guilty. Guilty of baking and not posting. It’s a whole lot easier to post on Instagram and Facebook. Putting it here requires a lot, lot more time and I’m happy I’m finally here. This is easily one of my favourite sourdough recipes and it has never ever failed to deliver. It’s a high hydration dough and shaping high hydration loaves are aways a challenge. What has worked for me is getting comfortable with the stickiness of the dough. High hydration equals sticky dough and the less you fight it – the easier it gets. It’s like swimming – you can’t do it unless you get wet. So, shall we get comfortable being uncomfortable? 🙂
Over a period of time, one gets comfortable with certain formulae – whether its with dealing with social situations or baking bread! 🙂 I’ve played with bread for a while now and I’ve gotten comfortable with the Tartine formula. Felt very sticky once upon a time. But, the more I’ve played, the easier it’s got. And then there’s the 1:2:3 formula – another delightful formula that’s less sticky and that’s given me consistent results. But, one thing I’ve always steered away from are the long, overnight, fermentation formulae. I’ve somehow associated long ferments with strong sour tones and no one at home is a fan of sour breads (me included). And I’ve always put off experimenting on these, partly because of my misplaced belief and partly because Ive always been able to make time for baking sourdough bread (about 7 – 8 hours from start to end, in small batches of time). But all this changed when I came across Teresa Greenway’s Alaska Sourdough Bread. It’s one of the easiest formula’s I’ve played with and perhaps an easier recipe to start with than the Tartine. And let’s face it – its always awesome to have a freshly baked loaf of bread for breakfast!
Here are a few experiments (that’s just me – can’t help experimenting all the time) So, here goes:
Maybe it’s in my genes. I’ve always had a weak spot for food cooked with anything related to coconuts. And I’ve been meaning to bake with coconut. So, instead of using water, I used coconut milk and to balance the heady, sweet aroma of coconut milk, I added some coarsely chopped, fresh coriander stalks. My favourite Tartine method, needs me around during the first 3 hours and that works on days that are free and I have often felt the need for another method that gives me more time to do more – and that’s how this method evolved. Mix. Knead. Leave it to ferment for 3 hours. Shape. Leave it to proof for 2 hours. Bake! A lot more time in between to do other stuff. 🙂
From some background reading that I did earlier, I figured that the coconut flavour tends to ‘evaporate’ after the bread is baked. So I used some thick coconut milk along with some coconut oil to ensure that the coconut flavour stays. So here it is – Fresh Coriander and Coconut Milk Sourdough Bread. This one was steam baked on terracotta tiles using a San Francisco culture. The coconut oil that I used in the dough ensured a crisp, soft crust and the fresh coriander stalks leant a crunch to the other-wise soft crumb. The bread smells like heaven on a plate. I did say that I had a weak spot for Coconut na? 🙂