Established hospitality (food/leisure/lifestyle) and personal development freelance writer/journalist/book author. Check out some of Justine's recently published food articles here: sydneyfoodlovers.hubgarden.com/
Published March 4th 2012
Artisan baking with organic grapes at Brasserie Bread @ South Melbourne
Learning how to bake quality artisan breads from baguettes to quality sourdough bread with organic breads (you would be forgiven for already salivating, we are talking about high quality breads here) is too good an opportunity to pass up; especially when given the opportunity to learn how to make such beautiful breads with one of the country's most popular Chefs: Michael Klausen, the Director of Brasserie Bread.
Thankfully I arrived at Brasserie Bread's South Melbourne bakery only recently, and looking like I had slept well the night before despite only getting three hours of sleep due to pressing deadlines being a busy journalist the night before. This was a great thing. Brasserie Bread's cooking classes comprise of small class sizes, and I was learning how to make a few different artisan breads with ten other foodies, and really quickly my camera was covered in sticky dough and flour. Taking photos of myself during this process was a real challenge. It was an actual luxury to enjoy one of their snails in their cafe area prior to the class commencing.
The yummy snails available at the Cafe at Brasserie Bread, South Melbourne
Michael's teaching style is down to earth and friendly, and his experience is definitely worth its weight in gold. You are shown step by step how to make these beautiful breads, even if you have not even made a baguette before; and yes you will be shown how to make these as well, and knowing when to cut into the dough to ensure your baguettes come out just as beautifully as any of them that you would buy at any high quality bakery. You will also know how much flour you need to use, and when to pour the correct amount of olive oil and yeast into your dough. And this is coming from a high quality chef who has been invited as a guest chef on MasterChef, and has been teaching other foodies and novices (even if you have never cooked and/or have heard of artisan breads in your life) for well over 10 years. Once again, you are in great hands. Really great hands.
One minute I was ensuring that my dough was rolled in a circular motion, and the next minute I was kneading the dough where thumping sounds dominated the room in fits of laughter. Michael did a fantastic job in ensuring that the whole room was at the same level at any given moment, and also at random times gave me expert tips on ensuring that my bread came out beautifully presented, and as the images in this article can testify; I am sure you would agree. It is amazing that I only used a maximum of five ingredients, and I checked this with Michael to ensure that I was following his instructions precisely, and he verified that I was on track. This is really how simple (and fun) learning how to make high quality artisan breads is really like.
It was also fun to receive a tour of Brasserie Bread's South Melbourne bakery during the class. It was amazing to see quality brioches and artisan bread that Brasserie Bread produces for some of Melbourne's and Sydney's top delis, cafes and restaurants being made. That's not to mention seeing the bread that is baked for Qantas, of which they currently serve to all of their international first class; as well as to all of their international and domestic business class passengers at appropriate meal times when flying with them.
Michael and his team of bakers definitely know and appreciate the importance of texture and taste of the artisan breads they bake. Now I have had a chance to taste their breads not only in the air, but also on the ground as well. The high quality is definitely consistent whether their artisan breads are eaten in the air or on the ground. Food quality does deteriorate when prepared and consumed 60,000 feet above ground, yet this has never been a challenge with the breads made by Brasserie Bread which is fantastic. Credit is due where it is required.
Artisan bread being made for clients such as Qantas, as discovered on the grand tour
Talking about even more abundance, our group was treated to a quality antipasto lunch where we got to pick and choose from a variety of different foods to complement the artisan breads actually made by Brasserie Bread: from salmon to fetta cheese and olives with a glass of wine (and a latte, amen I was spoilt and alas I was in heaven) on the house.
The lunch paved the way for great conversations about food and bread with Michael, and also with my fellow foodies; of which many were interesting characters. Furthermore, everyone in the room had an opportunity to put their creative juices to good use. I used some of the remaining fetta and olives to make another quality sourdough roll, and the person next to me starting calling her version "hangover food" and the whole room quickly agreed, especially when she added pickles to hers. Quality conversations, in tandem with making high quality artisan bread with laughter all round (started by another interesting character who could not stop laughing; was also really enjoying herself and had the most infectious laugh ever) proved to be somewhat magical, and our Danish born teacher was also enjoying himself in our company for a short while.
It was amazing to see Michael package our finished products for us one by one, and the 'infectious laughter' person made an interesting remark at the end that "we should all totally catch public transport now" meaning that (from a creator's viewpoint) we should all hop on the tram back to the city together, and share our amazing breads thanks to Michael and Brasserie Bread. Doing this in such circumstances would have paved the way for additional publicity for Brasserie Bread, and on a serious note they absolutely deserve it. I have been to some great cooking classes in my time, yet learning how to cook artisan breads with Michael Klausen leaves the other top cooking classes behind by a long way. The classes at Brasserie Bread are fun, entertaining and most importantly, hands on. You are the driver (of high quality artisan bread) the moment you walk through their cooking school. Think organic flour, and other high quality ingredients are only used and supplied during their bread making classes, and of course in the products they bake and sell.
Life is short, and all it takes is to spend just two and a half hours of your precious time with the very best when it comes to learning how to bake quality artisan breads, and with that confidence you take away from Michael's classes. You will be able to replicate the steps and the presentation of the bread you made at Brasserie Bread, and it will change the way you feel about artisan bread in a positive way forever. Something to really remember and cherish for life. I will remember this cooking class for a very long time.
An organic food lovers paradise at Brasserie Bread