Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Sourdough School Courses and Sourdough Club

My friend Vanessa Kimbell was a food writer and blogger when I first met her. Following visits to Uganda, Grenada and India Vanessa has changed the way she reacts to the world around that we live in and the world we want to leave to our children.

After working in a French bakery during summer holidays as a young girl and later on as a mother, Vanessa has been involved with sourdough bread making for over thirty years and along with a long list of other credentials Vanessa has gained a lot of knowledge of sourdough baking.

To spread the sourdough word and impart some of that knowledge Vanessa runs sourdough courses from her beautiful Victoria home in a North Northamptonshire village. Learn more about Vanessa's love of sourdough and get further information about the courses.
I was invited to attend one of Vanessa's Introduction to Sourdough courses. I am a sourdough beginner, having tried a starter but killed it a couple of years ago.  The amount of knowledge I came home with and my head was still spinning into my dreams!

I arrived at Vanessa's beautiful home just in time for the course and to meet the other participants. Whilst we were getting the introduction we had coffee/tea and sourdough rolls with homemade cherry jam! Beautiful.
We went on to learn the intricacies of making sourdough to use for bread, pizzas, muffins, pancakes and the list goes on.  Vanessa is very insistent on missing out unnecessary steps and to make the process as easy and foolproof as possible.
There was loads of time to ask all sorts of questions and we even tried to think of one that Vanessa wouldn't have the answer to but to no avail!

When we got our leven to the stage where you leave it and take a 'glass of wine' break Vanessa's father (Bill Hulme) popped in with some of the wine he grows on his local vineyard in the village of Brixworth and turns into award winning wines.  If you want to know more you can visit and have a tour or just contact him to order.

Following our little wine break we learned the techniques for shaping and rolling the dough.
We carried on getting the dough ready to make pizza for our lunch.
Sourdough makes a fantastic pizza and is quick and easy to roll our and cover in your favourite toppings.
After feasting on our pizzas and finishing our lessons Vanessa took one of the loaves out of the oven from the dough she had prepared earlier.  Beautiful round loaf of sourdough bread.
The huge difference in learning about sourdough at The Sourdough School and other cookery schools is that once you have finished your course you don't just go home never to be contacted again but you become a member of Vanessa's Sourdough Club, a members only web site where you can access all the information you learned on the course plus a plethora of recipes and a monthly sourdough recipe challenge.

I love having all the correct gear when I start a new project and all of the items Vanessa uses on her courses can be found at Bakery Bits, a one-stop place to get everything for the serious artisan baker.

I drove home, down the M1, thinking about all of the things I could make with the sourdough starter we were sent home with!

You can give someone a gift certificate to attend one of Vanessa's sourdough courses and they will learn a skill for life.

I was a guest of Vanessa Kinball's Sourdough club and was not paid to write a positive review and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.


  1. Oh what a lovely review Heidi, it felt like I was there with you :) I definitely want to get started with sourdough, but the bit that puts me off is the daily attention it needs (mind you, no more than the chickens or cat demand I guess!)
    Can't wait to see what fun you get up to with that new starter!
    Janie x

    1. Thank you Jane - I am a b it scared to start but I will bite the bullet and get going! You don't do anything to except once a week!

  2. Lovely.. I have never tried out anything with sour dough as yet.

  3. I am sooooooooooooooooooo desperate to go to one of Vanessa's classes. Been dropping big hints to the OH.

    1. We learned so much - not to try it at home!!

  4. Sour dough is my favourite bread. I would have loved this course and the gift of a sour dough starter sounds like a perfect gift.

  5. Try to get someone to give you a course as a gift!