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If there’s something Babette Kourelos knows, it’s baking. And more specifically, baking bread. It’s a hobby that took this young LLB student to Vermont in the US to apprentice under a French master baker.
Q: How did you start?
A: My love of food preparation and baking definitely comes from my mother and grandmother. I baked from a young age and always looked for new recipes for cakes, biscuits, desserts, etc. One day my stepfather asked me to bake something different, something real – not the usual sweet bakes I tended to gravitate towards. Accepting the challenge, I paged through all my recipe books and eventually came across a recipe for an old-school English cottage loaf. That’s it, I thought… What’s more real than bread?
So, I got stuck into the recipe and was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity and beauty of bread baking. Every stage of the process is unique and interesting to observe. It never fails to amaze me how such simple ingredients can be combined to make a nourishing and wholesome loaf of bread. Bread really is the staff of life!
Q: Tell us about your bread-baking classes.
A: I teach home bakers how to bake beautifully nutritious and wholesome loaves for themselves and their families. Participants may choose to spend a full day of baking with me or simply a short three hours. I cover bread theory, baking and shaping techniques, and provide ideas on how to change or add ingredients to a basic dough recipe so as to have a variety of breads coming out of your oven. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced baker, there’s something for everyone to learn about bread.
Q: What is your favourite bread to bake?
A: I would have to say sourdough. Not only are sourdough loaves delicious and full of character, but the actual process of cultivating the sourdough culture or “mother dough”, requires skill, patience and love. The baker’s unique understanding of the dough and its needs are fundamental to the creation of a beautifully robust and flavourful loaf. Without this understanding and skill, the bread will most likely resemble a brick and may be too acidic in flavour.
Q: Some tips for mistake-free baking?
A: Always weigh your ingredients. This is the best and most accurate way to approach any baking project. Make sure you have all your utensils and ingredients placed on the counter before you start – this way you will not accidentally skip an important ingredient or scramble around the kitchen looking for things.
In your hood: Maboneng
Babette’s Bread | 084 516 3014 | babettesbread.co.za