By Hussina Raja
Just Bread is back with a new, excited and enthusiastic group of trainees.
Our first session kicks off at the e5 Roasthouse. It’s sun, smiles and sourdough all round.
In what is growing tradition, with each new group we welcome one another by introducing ourselves, where we are from and the types of bread commonly consumed in our countries. Histories and methods reel out of everyone’s mouths. There are several types of bread mentioned and a little description about when they’re eaten.
We have an incredibly diverse group stemming from Cameroon, Iran, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uganda, Syria and Sudan.
meaning of bread continues to resonate deeply with cuisine, culture and country. Guncha giggles as she explains that she loves to eat, and thoroughly enjoys cooking, she vouches that the lamb fat used to make a bread recipe in Turkmenistan does wonders for her figure!
It’s enjoyable to be immersed in the stories shared of recipes from the various countries, each proud of how delicious their bread is and memories of mothers’ making bread in traditional clay ovens or tandoors.
Jean takes everyone on a tour of the cafe. We start at the bread rack and he begins to explain the variety e5 produce at the Bakehouse, and that the trainees will delve into making some of the recipes for the Just Bread subscription. We continue onto the coffee roastery, briefly touching on the beans e5 use and how they are roasted. I demonstrate how a cup of coffee is made and the different types available – the list is endless.
We return to bread making with Jean introducing the sourdough story. He shows the group a tub of leaven and describes it as the starter for sourdough, explaining how it is a simple combination of flour and water. The science is what makes all the difference. Once it is initially mixed, the starter is fed every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours. It is then fed each day for a week and as it grows, the birth of sourdough bread-making begins.
Some of the trainees are familiar with the process from childhood, watching their mothers’ prepare dough using the same method. Guncha and Diana get stuck into measuring and making the flatbread dough. This is the first recipe the trainees will learn. While the dough rests, we all take a break for lunch.
Lunch is a hearty chickpea curry. Although some of the trainees are observing fasts for the holy month of Ramadan, they are in good spirits and are excited to try our signature sourdough later. They take home delicious hummus, carrot and feta sandwiches for their iftar meal.
After lunch, the group continue their practical training. Everyone familiarises themselves with the e5 way of working, including basic hygiene preparation and the secret to making the perfect flatbread. We all measure out a piece of the dough prepared earlier and create a small ball, dusted with a little flour, it is squashed and rolled into a circle. I think the technique lies in knowing how to use a rolling pin to roll an even amount of dough into a circle. It takes practice.
Once all the dough is used up, we transfer the flatbread into the clay oven. Again we all get to learn how to use the tools to bake our flatbread. It’s surprisingly quick! Once they’re in the hot oven, it only takes 60 to 90 seconds for them to rise into inflated footballs. Adha prefers to let his brown to the point of burning ‘it’s how I like it’, he says. We each individually retrieve ours, cautious to not them burn and resting them on the cooling rack. The flatbread is warm, soft and a little dusty. Jean reassures us that they’re perfect for eating.
We all end the day embracing our creations, taking home our edible souvenirs to share with our friends and family.