Bread and jam, toast and marmalade, from sourdough to soda bread, sweet preserves are synonymous with bread. As with preserving, making bread is a passion of mine and in recent years I have been drawn to the magic of sourdough with mixed results. Either my sourdough starter has failed to work or the bread coming out of the oven is more solid than airy inside.

Bread Books

I first met Emmanuel Hadjiandreou in 2013 at The School of Artisan Food, a day organised by the Guild of Food Writers. The day at the School introduced Guild members to the technique and recipes Emmanuel uses to make bread. Emmanuel’s first book “How to make Bread”, published in 2011 won the Jeremy Round Award for Best First Book in 2012.

Emmanuel’s third book, “How to make Sourdough” was published in April 2016. I was sorry not to be free to go to the book launch, but delighted when Emmanuel invited me to Hastings to learn more about sourdough in exchange for some jam and chutney lessons.

Getting started

Arriving in Hastings on a hot sunny day in August, I wondered why I had not been there during the years I lived in Brighton. The Old Town area of Hastings has an eclectic mix of independent shops, bars, pubs and restaurants. The Boulevard Bookshop and Thai Cafe not only served authentic food but also stocked some interesting books.

We wasted no time starting my immersion into sourdough.I had a few requests for rye, wholemeal and spelt. We also made thyme and potato sourdough, ciabatta and a white sourdough with an extra ingredient, crumbs from another bread. Over the next two days we oscillated between sourdough, jam and chutney. I discovered the key to success with sourdough is best quality ingredients, patience and balanced recipes. These elements are not dissimilar when making chutney and jam successfully.

Seasonality

Autumn Raspberries were just ripening at home and with RedCurrants recently frozen, we had the ingredients for a Red Berry Jam. We followed the four stages of making jam, a slow cook of the fruit, the all important pectin test, the fast boil with warmed sugar and potting up into clear glass jars and new lids. As rhubarb in my garden was coming to an end we used it to make a Rhubarb and Ginger Chutney. Plums too were in season, perfect for making Plum Jam and Plum Chutney, using recipes from “First Preserves”.

Plum Chutney

Any variety of plum can be used for chutney, although I prefer to use small to medium-sized dark or red plums.

Makes about 2kg (4½lb)

1kg stoned plums
450g cooking apples, peeled and cored
450g onions
450g seedless raisins
175g brown sugar
5ml ground ginger
5ml ground allspice
1.25ml each of ground cloves, grated nutmeg, cayenne pepper and dry mustard
25g salt
600ml distilled malt vinegar

1. Finely chop or mince the apples, raisins and onions. Mix them in a large un-lidded preserving pan and add the plums. Stir in the spices, salt and vinegar.

2. Bring the pan to the boil, turn it down to a gentle simmer. Cook gently until the contents of the pan are pulpy, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and dissolve it carefully. Continue to cook gently until the contents of the pan are thick and no “free” liquid remains. Stir frequently to prevent the chutney sticking to the bottom of the pan.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Ladle the chutney into a glass or plastic jug. Pour the chutney into clean warm jars, filling them to within 5mm (¼in) from the top. Seal the jars with new, vinegar-resistant twist-top lids. When the jars are cold, label them with the name, date and year made. Store in a dry cupboard for 2–3 months before opening.

Emmanuel inspired me wth his patience, creativity and ability to teach as well as bake to an exceptional standard. I felt privileged to have learnt from a master baker. He teaches regularly at the School of Artisan Food and other schools ( see links below). As I drove home, my head was buzzing with sourdough information and I was confident I could continue to make sourdough successfully. I now have lively rye and white starters and my loaves often look similar to the photos in Emmanuel’s books.

Links
School Artisan Food

Pugmill Bakehouse

Bake with Maria

Guild of Food Writers

My recipe books

How to Make Sourdough

How to Make Bread