Our aim: To educate in the art and science of sourdough bread making and fermentation.
Whether you are a complete beginner and looking learn to make a basic loaf, a seasoned baker who wants to improve their loaf, to a medical professional wanting to delve deeper into nutrition of bread as part of your research, The Sourdough School specifically concentrates on teaching all aspects of bread baking and the science and nutrition to all levels.
We particularly focus on providing recipes and formula’s for people looking for a bread that suits their particular requirements, and run specialist workshops for specific issues such as IBS and Diabetes. It’s not just bread, we also teach sweet bakes using wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria to leaven every day bakes such as cakes croissants and pastries.
We are located in Northamptonshire, the school is set in the beautiful gardens of sourdough baker Vanessa Kimbell. It is home. Classes are small tutorial size groups at the kitchen table in a rustic French Kitchen classroom. We have an online subscription for people to learn to bake sourdough at home, and we run a small number of workshops and tutor small groups in the art of fermenting bread & we are RCGP accredited for our nutrition and digestion of bread diploma.
We occasionally have guest sourdough bakers tutoring from all over the world. Classes sizes are small tutorial size groups, set in a purpose built classroom, taught on a old French table with a battered sofa to relax on. It is set in the grounds of the beautiful Victorian home in Northamptonshire, where you can wander around and feed the chickens.
Class dates are limited to a few dozen a year and are mainly run by Vanessa Kimbell, a French trained baker who specialises in naturally leavened bread. Vanessa, who has a keen interest in the digestibility of bread, is also the in house baker at Bakerybits, an award winning author, a regular BBC radio 4 Journalist, and unsurprisingly as 4th generation baker and is of Italian decent, known for her warmth and as Diana Henry once noted her ” inimitable humour.”
.Students can expect a wonderful day, with fresh baked sourdough bread, jam from the fruit garden, home made butter and fresh garden flowers on the table, and enjoy wandering about in the garden, weather permitting. Everyone is encouraged to pick the herbs, fruit and vegetables or collect the eggs from the chickens to use.
Vanessa’s story ….
Coming from a long line of female chefs and bakers, Vanessa’s Italian mother was a senior chef at Keele University and both her English grandmother and Italian great-grandmother were bakers, so a fourth generation baker of Italian descent was always going to have a love of food. Vanessa has been baking sourdough since she was just 11 years old, so unsurprisingly her specialist subject is sourdough and baking with wild yeast .. but there is more to the story than simply delicious bread.
When Vanessa was nine, her parents bought a house in rural south-west France, just 60 yards away from the busy village bakery. The bakery supplied all the bread for miles around and was right the heart of the community. She fell in love with everything French – the wine, the cheese, the fresh fruit and vegetables, the farmers, and the local markets, but most of all she fell in love with the bread, and spent every spare moment of her childhood working in the village bakery. It was in this rural community that she really connected to farmers and the land, and the relationship between food and family and community that was right at the heart of French living. Aged 18, she qualified as a baker and a chef in the UK, but there were no ‘real’ bakeries.
Returning to France, she worked in a restaurant in Paris for a summer and then as an apprentice baker in the Dordogne. Returning the UK, Vanessa worked as a baker and chef whilst at university and completed a degree in Psychology of Human Communication. It was whilst finishing her degree she became poorly, and stopped being able to tolerate wheat. She had not option other than to stop being a baker, and give up the thing she loved most.
For 4 years she avoided all wheat until she returned to the bakery and was given a warm bread by her friend. Unable to resist Vanessa ate the bread and discovered in that moment that she could digest sourdough without issues. When she returned home she ate ordinary commercial bread and was poorly again. This was a pivotal moment and she set out to try and understand why. The doctors she spoke to didn’t have answers, neither did the nutritionalists or bakers, and this set a new path – to understand bread, fermentation and digestion of bread. Almost twenty years on and Vanessa is renowned for her passion and unique understanding of long slow fermentation and teaches the nutrition and digestibility of bread course to doctors and health care practitioners – which is accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners.
In 2009 she wrote her first book Prepped, her next book Food for Thought won the world book awards for the most ethical and sustainable book and her 3rd book The Sourdough School is right on subject – how to make nutritious and delicious sourdough
Food for Thought,was also The Telegraph Book of the week ,and is published by Kyle Cathie
The Sourdough School is based in Vanessa’s beautiful French style kitchen. Classes are small tutorial size groups, so you can expect a small friendly, fun hands on day learning to bake beautiful sourdough bread.