Our workshops have previously been accredited by the RCGP. Following a break due to COVID and an significant update in the syllabus we have submitted our application for accreditation, and are currently under review by the RCGP.
We very much hope that we will receive accreditation, which would mean that the workshops would be considered to be of high enough quality and relevant for general practitioners’ CPD and Revalidation purposes optional bolt on for GP’s and healthcare professionals . The workshops are currently only open to students who have attended the online Nutrition & Digestibility of Bread Advanced Diploma or The Sourdough School Teaching Bread For Health Diploma.
We are very excited about this and we will update you as soon as we have news.
When you enrol you will need to fill in your application, and then we will be in touch for an interview. In the mean time you will no doubt have lots of have questions. Your interview will only be 10 -15 minutes to discuss your application so we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked queries here, and we’ve included some of the health and safety and privacy agreements when attending The Sourdough School.
Please take the time to thoroughly read through these as all of the information before attending.
Simply click on the question to reveal the answer – please ensure that you read all of the details pertaining to your course before your interview.
What are your office opening hours?
I don’t really hang out in the office much... we find computers, flour and water don’t mix. Mostly we are in the school baking, teaching or filming, so we respond to emails and emails during office hours . If you have something urgent please text or phone the office number, during office hours if we’re not able to answer straight away we will get back to you as soon as we can on +44 (0) 1604 881274 or WhatsApp +44 (0) 7764476453
Or email Vanessa's PA email@example.com
- Office Admin Hours.
- Monday - 10 -3pm
- Tuesday 10 -3pm
- Wednesday 10 - 3pm
- Thursday - Closed
- Friday - 10 - 3pm
- Weekends - Closed
The Sourdough School Term Dates
We open on the workshop dates in the calendar for people attending courses and follow a traditional academic calendar.
2021 Term Dates Open Closed at the end of the afternoon on? Autumn Wednesday 1 September 2021 Friday 17 December 2021 Spring Tuesday 4 January 2022 Friday 1 April 2022 Summer Tuesday 19 April 2022 Friday 29 July 2022
What is included in a Workshop?
What is included
- 12 months - A Gold membership to The Sourdough Club. (RRP £199)
- An exclusive ceramic jar with breathable wooden lid & some of our starter to take home
- A set of sourdough record cards
- A personalised signed Sourdough School Book ( we also stock other books by Vanessa if you have one already we can offer instead or we can gift you a bottle of wine from the family Vineyard.)
- All teaching the materials & supporting documentation
- A personalised embossed certificate of attendance
- A Sourdough School Workbook - a stunningly beautiful workbook that you fill in as part of the week to write up all the recipes we develop, any notes and information you want to remember. It is an amazing keepsake and one that you will keep adding to when you go home.
- Several bags of flour that we use on the course, to get you going when you get home.
- Wine tasting & tour of the vineyard ( providing the proprietors are available)
- All food and drinks whilst at the school are provided, including lunch out on Tuesday when we go to the farm shop or market.
Students are responsible for:
- Your accommodation
- Transport to and from the School.
- You will need to arrange for your own breakfast and evening meals, although we are very happy to provide a rug, a basket and food for a picnic and by Wednesday we will have several baked things to take back with you for breakfast.
- Travel insurance
Getting the most out of your week
We want you to have an amazing week. So this is really important piece of advice.
Do a bit of homework before you get here.
You don't have to do much, but really if you are going to spend time with people who are have baked before and someone as knowledgeable as Vanessa then even a few attempts at baking sourdough will make a huge difference to your enjoyment of the course. We know it is sometimes hard to find the time, but we find those students who are absolute complete beginners and who hasve never baked before benefit immensely from having a few attempts beforehand.
We help you do this as all attendees are given membership to the Sourdough Club prior to attending the school. These video tutorials give you a huge base knowledge before you come and really help. The workshops are collaborative and focused on research and development, therefore to ensure you get the most out of your time at the school we ask that you practice our classic beginners sourdough formula before attending. (The beginners' loaf is also the classic 20% retarded loaf on page 114 of the sourdough school book.) This means you are familiar with the basics, including sourdough starter refreshment, baking terms, and basic techniques. You are asked to email us a photo of this sourdough bread, or equivalent at least 6 weeks before the workshop starts.
- We also highly recommend that students take a gut microbial test before attending a course as this will give you a unique insight into your own microbiome, and will make the week more relevant to you personally.
- Please take the time to look at the local area. The School is a situated an hour north of London in Vanessa’s home, a Victorian coach house, set in 2/3 of an acre of organic gardens. There are some lovely places to visit including Princess Diana's ancestral home. You can book transport and accommodation as soon as you place in confirmed and browse local accommodation and transportation information here.
What should I bring with me?
A handy Check list of things you need to bring with you.
- I am assuming that you will remember your passport if you need it!
- YOU MUST Fill out the application to attend the school with your information and food preferences online if you do not you are NOT BOOKED until you do so. We cannot teach you without this information for a fire register, allergies and emergency contact details
- PRINT this document to bring with you.
- You will only need to bring a few essentials, your favourite apron, and basket or bag to take your bread, your bakes and several other bits and pieces home with you.
- International students, please do allow space in your luggage to take many items back with you.
- You need to bring a pair of trainers or shoes to walk in, something warm to wear and a flask – we will fill it with hot tea. If you want to cycle then please bring something appropriate to wear – the route is some tarmac and a well-used track, but it can be muddy in places.
- Ensure you have booked a taxi home after the workshop finishes at 6.15pm
- Check your arrival time. Do not turn up early (unless you have arranged to go for a walk with Vanessa before the workshop starts)
- Bring any other of Vanessa's books that you would like signing.
- 3 x 200g tupperware containers with lids if we make things like jam, cultured butter and pickles so you can take some home (please ensure they are sterile and odourless) and a small plastic bottle (an empty water bottle is good) to take syrups home..
- A torch – essential in the winter, as it gets very dark.
- If it is not you coming on the course then please give this document to the person coming on the course and make sure you have registered the right person attending.
What are the workshop / Diploma start time & end times?
- Monday 11am - 6pm
- Tuesday 10am - 6pm
- Wednesday 11 am - 6 pm
- Thursday 10am - 6pm
- Friday 10am - 4pm
PLEASE NOT TO TURN UP EARLY. The arrival time is fixed.
Often students turn up early only to find the team running around, making sure everything is ready for the week. This time our prep time and it is essential that we have this time to get ready. So if you are early we ask that you respect our need for this time - we need to get ready so if you are a few minutes early then please just take a walk around the village .. it is very pretty.
If you are driving and arrive early then there is a lovely local cafe about 5 minutes drive from us called The Workhouse in Brixworth
Planning your arrival in the morning, after 9 am it takes about 15 minutes to get to the School from the train station. There is a good cafe in the train station.
If being early is completely unavoidable please let us know 2 days in advance.
Our workshops finish at 6 pm. Please book taxis at 6:15 to allow for a few minutes as we often overrun. It is not far to get to the train station, but at 6 pm there is heavy traffic so it will take about 25 minutes to get to the train station in Northampton when there is traffic.
Please note that we do not have off-road parking, however, there is lots of off-road parking. We advise that you park by the church and walk up as this is the easiest place to get a parking space. it is 1 minutes walk. Please park considerately, we have several people visually impaired and cars on pavements are dangerous for them.
Where is The Sourdough School Based?
Vanessa’s Sourdough bread-making classes are a world away from the hustle and bustle in a pretty village just 4 miles north of Northamptonshire – which is possibly one of the most easily accessible counties in England. We are within an hour reach of London, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Leicester and Birmingham, which is just 15 – 20 minutes from the M1, the M6 and the A14.
Driving distances to The Sourdough School
- London 75 miles via M1
- Cambridge 55 miles via A14
- Oxford 48 miles via A43
- Birmingham 53 miles via M6
- Manchester 135 miles via M6
The train station is also only a 15 minute taxi ride away, making it really easy to get to us from London on the train.
There are regular trains from London Euston and Birmingham to Northampton.
Central London – trains go directly from London Euston station to Northampton station and take about 55 minutes. A taxi to the school from Northampton station takes about 15 minutes.
If there is ever a problem with the Euston to Northampton line, trains also run from St Pancreas to Wellingborough and Market Harborough both of which are about a 20 minute taxi drive away.
Birmingham – trains go from Birmingham to Long Buckby station and take about 40 minutes. A taxi from Long Buckby station to the school is about 15-20 minutes. Long Buckby is a rural station so there are no black cabs here.
Check www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times. We are about 15 – 20 minutes away from the station by car, dependent on traffic.
Taxi service from the Train station. We have a super taxi service called KPD Taxis with a set fee of £13.50 (week days) or £15 (weekends) to bring students to the school. If there is more than one student traveling then they will bring you all at the same time, and will advise you regarding the lower fare. To use this taxi service call 01604 882798 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Northampton taxi companies are:
Amber Cars – 01604 232666 https://www.ambercarsnorthampton.com/
Ace Cars – 01604 719697
Bounds – 01604 626262
Phoenix Class – 01604 222222
We would advise that you pre-book a taxi to take you from the train station to the school, and vice versa. Black cabs at the train station are more expensive.
The closest airports are –
Birmingham – there are regular trains direct from the airport to Long Buckby (about 40 minutes). Then take a taxi to the school (approximately 15 minutes). You will need to pre-book a taxi as this is a small rural train station and there is no taxi rank.
Luton – the quickest option is to take a taxi from the airport (approximately 50 minutes) – we have used Skyways Cars before. The most affordable option is the National Express bus service to Northampton town centre which takes about 1 hour 15 minutes. Then take a taxi or the X7 bus from the bus station to the school. The bus stop at the top of Pitsford village is about a 10-15 minute walk to the school. You can book National Express bus journeys online.
East Midlands – a taxi from the airport will take a little under an hour. National Express runs two buses each weekday, the journey to Northampton town centre takes either 2 hours 15 minutes or 2 hours 50 minutes depending on which service you take. You will then need to take a taxi or an X7 bus from Northampton town centre to the school.
Stanstead – trains run every 20 minutes from Stansted to Tottenham Hale underground from where you can get an underground train to London Euston. Overland trains from Euston run hourly to Northampton. You can then take a taxi or the X7 bus from the bus station to the school. The train station is about a 15 minute walk to the bus station.
Heathrow – trains via Euston London take about an hour to Northampton railway station. To get to Euston from Heathrow follow signs for the London Underground, take the Piccadilly Line to Green Park, then the Victoria Line to Euston. Allow an hour to get from Heathrow to Euston.
Or you can just take the Piccadilly Line straight to Kings Cross St. Pancras and walk to Euston (about ten minutes). From Northampton train station to get to the school you will need to take a taxi (about 15-20 minutes). If you can pre-book a taxi it will be cheaper.
Alternatively you can take a bus to Watford Junction and then the train to Northampton (both run hourly) this takes 2¼ hours.
When you are booking flights around a course at The Sourdough School, please allow plenty of time for travel between the school and the airport.
There is a stagecoach service which will drop off at the main road on the A508 which is about a 10 – 15 minute walk into the village here – please contact me for more details of which stop is best to get off at. You will need the X7 bus.
Address for a detailed map and the address please email email@example.com
There is plenty of parking and you can expect a warm welcome.
What is the address & directions
The Sourdough School Ltd, East Bank House, Moulton Road, Pitsford.
Please use PITSFORD as your destination.
Using the SatNavs post code will take you 150 yards up the road or to the wrong village.
- From the A508 drive all the way through the village until you come to the first bend. Look for the two white cottages on the right hand side as you go around the bend there is an old blue five bar gate before the zigzags of the zebra crossing.
- Coming from Moulton village we are the first gate on the left hand side after Drummond Close and before the white cottages. The gate is where the zig zags of the zebra crossing end.
Please park considerately.
Do you recommend anywhere to stay?
- We have all recommended accommodation options here if needed - a full list of accommodation in the area.
- Often our students are travelling from abroad and meeting bakers from around the world is very sociable so we suggest that if you do not have transport then students stay nearby at Sedgebrook Hall.
- The Hall is set in beautiful grounds and is walking distance (about a 15 - 20-minute walk about mile away from the school) and has a restaurant and bar, and a small gym and swimming pool.
- We have arranged a discount code for our students. Please use code SOURDOU for the same online 10% discount but no payment required at booking.
- We do advise that you BOOK your accommodation as soon as you have booked your place on the course, as there are often events in the area.
- Although it is walking distance we also suggest that you do not walk this route in the winter months as it gets dark from October until May and it is a rural road with fast traffic. We often find that students arrange shared transport to and from the school when they say in the same accommodation, but as this is a private arrangement between individuals, and we, therefore, leave this entirely up to individuals to organise themselves should they so wish. However, there is a list of taxi companies in this Q & A if you wish to book transport.
What Else is there to do in the area?
We have compiled a list of things do and places to visit if you are bringing someone with you or staying for longer.
A list of local Taxi companies
- KPD 01604 882798 firstname.lastname@example.org
- AMBER CARS 01604 232666 We also use Amber taxis – 01604 232666 https://www.ambercarsnorthampton.com/
We have noticed that the Black cabs from the train station can cost a lot more and often cannot find us. Also please book your return taxi! We are slightly outside of the town and sometimes taxis are not available at busy times at short notice.
You are free to use any taxi service you like so other Northampton taxi companies are:
Ace Cars – 01604 719697
Bounds taxis – 01604 626262
Phoenix Class – 01604 222222
Often Students want to arrange taxi sharing, or lifts with other students, but we are not able to be involved. This is at your own risk. This is a personal arrangement between people attending the course please be aware that we hold no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any arrangements made privately.
You can expect a warm welcome, and to work hard and learn plenty. It's fun and small groups make friends. It is, however, a big commitment both financially and in time, so it is important for you to research your week thoroughly. We are always happy to answer questions, but there are a few things we can share to fill in any gaps.
What do we expect from you?
Well, it is fair to say that we hope for lovely people, who want to learn everything we can teach you about sourdough. We expect you to have a basic understanding of the principles of making sourdough and to at the very least have baked at least 2 or 3 times. We provide you with membership to our online video course to help you do this before you attend. We also expect our students to continue their baking when they get home, which is why we have The Sourdough Club and give feedback and support long after the course had finished.
We need you to be punctual, be well prepared, with long hair tied back, short fingernails, with a full apron and raring to go. Please do not turn up early.
What should I expect on a workshop?
The Workshops are about developing the recipes. Each one is different.
You will see every aspect of sourdough bread and there will be time to savour your bread, to relax, to breathe deeply and just lose yourself in long, slow fermentation and in the beauty of winter in our rural Northamptonshire setting. We will try to incorporate a walk into each day’s schedule, weather permitting.
- You will have some free time in the evenings, and there is the opportunity to walk, cycle, visit the local pubs, or pop in the local cheese mongers and bakery, and we arrange a visit to the local vineyard.
- The workshop aim is to give you the understanding and the confidence and know-how to bake your own homemade, artisan, sourdough loaves.
- It will be a fun week, full of information, and baking.
- All participants will receive a certificate of attendance.
Will I make the perfect loaf?
There are only 3 / 4 students and we bake as a group. We never really know what we are making until we have discussed the studies or the focus of the workshop. What you will learn here is not just to follow a recipe, you will learn core principles and to trust your senses, to have an understanding and a sense of rhythm, timing and connection, to the dough and the process of making bread. You will make great bread and learn everything you need to know to be in a position to practice with knowledge.
But let me be clear, I absolutely cannot bear this idea of a perfect loaf, or the infatuation with big holes. If big holes are the only thing you want then this is not the right course fo you.
It is completely unrealistic to expect to do a 3-year apprenticeship in 5 days. ]Something important to bear in mind. It took me many years to master Sourdough. It is an art and sourdough is wild. Fermentation is unpredictable at times and many students often arrive with very high expectations. Often people show me loaves they want to make by bakers that have baked over 500,000 loaves. Yes, they are amazing. However, it takes years to really master sourdough. It is like learning to play a musical instrument, and even now 35 years on I am still learning every time I bake.
Be ready to learn. On the day sometimes things don’t always go according to plan... although mostly it does; It is somewhat ironic but we learn more from the mistakes that we do the successes.
Then it is up to you to bake. Over and over again. The real secret to good sourdough is practice.
That is the joy - the journey.
What happens if I need help with my baking when I get home?
One of the benefits of being a student at The Sourdough School is the ongoing support we provide so that you can continue your sourdough journey with confidence after you have studied with us. This is important, because when you leave the school your learning has only just begun, and every time you bake you will learn more about the process.
Part of this support is the ability to have a conversation with Vanessa about your sourdough baking. There may be times when things aren’t going as you would like, and you really need some help in identifying the problem. Vanessa is often able to do this, but it is important that you provide her with a full set of information so that she can work through the problem with you. To make this easier she has developed a Loaf Analysis Form, which guides you through gathering all the information she needs. Using your answers to the questions on the form, she is usually able to diagnose the problem and advise you on how to fix it. It gives her a starting point and also acts as an invaluable tool for your own records.
If you feel you have a sourdough problem that would benefit from a chat with Vanessa, the first thing to do is read through the Loaf Analysis Form here. Answer all of the questions. This does take some time but the more information you can provide, the more Vanessa has to work on. You will also need to upload photos of your starter, leaven and loaf – the form gives full details of what’s needed. Once you have completed the form, the information can be sent to Vanessa and you can arrange a convenient time to go through it.
How do I get my sourdough starter home?
Many of our students ask me about the practicalities of taking their sourdough starters home with them. They have travelled from all over the world to visit the school, so it’s only natural that they have concerns about getting their starter back home. But in fact, it’s very straightforward. Sourdough starters, when they are refreshed correctly, can remain out of the fridge for between 24 and 36 hours, as long as they are kept at a regular temperature. This means that most journeys can be accomplished between refreshments… if not, it’s very easy to maintain your starter while still on the road (or train, or plane!)
When you leave the school, we supply you with a small pot which contains 80g of sourdough starter. We also give you a bag for the starter to travel in. We refresh the starter on the last day of the course before you leave, to ensure it’s at the optimum point and ready to travel home. We also supply small bags of flour, so if anybody needs to continue refreshing their sourdough starter for a few days before they go home or on the journey, then they are able to do so. Keeping your starter healthy is a very simple process, and will be fully explained on the course. But essentially, to refresh your starter you take ¾ (60g) of the starter out of the 80g we give you. Then stir 35g of water and 25g of flour into the remaining ¼. All you'll need is a small spoon or, at a push, you can use your fingers for mixing. This ratio of flour and water keeps your starter slightly thicker than you would normally have it, which slows down the rate at which the bacteria consume their food source.
There are a couple of considerations to bear in mind when you are travelling – the main one to remember is that your sourdough starter is still fermenting, and is going to be producing gas. It’s worth opening the lid every few hours to release these. If you forget, the worst that can happen is that the gases build up and pop the lid so that a little of it spills out into the plastic bag. This isn’t really a problem because you can simply wash the starter out of the plastic bag when you get home, although you will only need 20-25g of it to refresh anyway.
Taking your sourdough on an aeroplane.
I don’t recommend keeping the bags of flour in your hand luggage, because more than likely you will be stopped and have it tested at the airport. But I do prefer to carry my starter in hand luggage. It can safely travel in the hold. It will get cold but certainly shouldn’t come to any harm. If you decide to take it in your hand luggage, remember that it will be subject to the restrictions on liquids and gels, so don’t try to carry too much. I also find it helps to clearly label the container or bag with the contents… if nothing else it can lead to some interesting conversations at security!
It’s really not a problem to travel with your sourdough starter. I’ve taken mine all over the world. In fact, the sourdough starter you will be leaving The Sourdough School with is part of a starter that has already been all over Europe, as well as to India and the USA. So we’re sharing a very well-travelled starter with you!
Tea and coffee?
We have lots of choice and a help yourself policy.
Is there a Vegetarian or Vegan option for Lunch
Please do ensure that you check out the recipes for any allergies.
We occasionally serve local seasonal smoked, or preserved fish or meat, in general lunch is simple, home-made, seasonal, and based around the bread we are eating.
Almost all cheeses are British and unpasteurised, so please do let me know if you are not able to eat unpasteurised cheese. With a few days notice we can provide alternatives.
First aid and allergies
Although you fill in details on your form we ask that you check everything verbally before you eat it with Vanessa too.
We respectfully ask that students bring medication if they have serious allergies or are allergic to animals. We have pets as this is our home, they are not encouraged into the School, and we do keep them out of the way but all the same, we still need to ensure medication is on hand, just in case, as they will come in if given any encouragement and the door is open.
I am a trained St Johns Ambulance first-aider, please let me know of any other medical conditions on the day if they are not detailed on the booking form.
Can I take Photographs?
Our policy about sourdough social media is to celebrate and share while respecting the preferences of all students and members of the team here at the school.
We are sensitive to both those who love social media and also those that don’t. You are welcome to take photos of the bread and other bakes, but please avoid photographing people unless you have their consent.
Vanessa prefers not to be photographed except in some group shots. She is, however, happy to provide a range of photos which can be used within the WhatsApp group.
Photos in the classroom and garden are fine, but not our living space. No photos of the children please (unless I expressly give permission).
If you have any complaints, worries or loaves not turning out as you want, then do please address to me at the time not broadcast to thousands first...
Do I need a Sourdough School Book?
We give you book as part of the workshop.
Yes You will really enjoy the course so much more of you have a copy of ‘The Sourdough School’ book. We use it throughout the course.
What if I already have a copy?
Generally, there are copies of my book ‘Food for Thought’ or ‘Prepped’ stocked so we will give you a copy of one of Vanessa's other books.
Yes .. we have pets
The Pets are part of the Staff. The dogs bark to alert us that there are people here, and the cats keep the mice away, so we don't need poison or traps in an old property.
This is also home.
I have one cat in particular who does love to try and make himself comfortable, and dogs, chickens and wildlife.
The dogs are NOT allowed in the school and not in the food prep areas under any circumstances, although as many might appreciate cats do not know boundaries.
We politely request that guests do not encourage the animals into the school as we have them trained not to come in. I often leave the dogs out in the garden until the last 5 minutes before the course start time for some fresh air and my terrier is a rescue dog and not friendly. Please do not fuss the terrier.
If you have an allergy we will do our best to keep the pets away, however, we ask that you bring any medication that you need as we cannot promise that they will not set allergies off.
Is there time and space for prayer or meditation?
Baking is very spiritual and we respect everyone's beliefs.
We have people travelling from all over the world and make time and space for religious and spiritual needs – please let us know if you need anything specific. We have a small quiet library upstairs, a shower room, and full of bread books that is available, we are able to lock the dogs away whilst people are arriving or leaving, and we are able to accommodate somewhere separate to sit within the bakery away from alcohol should we be serving.
PLEASE READ – Safe working practices, Tidiness, Clothing & Jobs
When you arrive you will be asked to put your personal belongings upstairs. The School is a relaxed space for baking and learning. As a small business, however, we have to have health and safety procedures so we have an office where all bags, coats, hats and personal belongings need to be stored upstair on the coat rack out of the way.
All students are required to wear a school apron and have no rings on hands unless a simple wedding band.
Whilst baking please have hair tied back.
We have a separate hand basin for handwashing. This is NOT for washing utensils.
NO personal belongings, clothing or bag in the school except your phone or medicine please.
Over the years I have noticed that accidents tend to happen when things get cluttered. We have to clear up as we work and each student is responsible for making sure that the utensils, cup and bowls that they use are washed and put away whilst baking and when finished with. We have a team who help but this is also part of making yourself at home.
You will need to keep your working area clear and it is requested that you tuck in stools under the table when baking as people can trip over them.
On arrival, we are all allocated jobs to make sure that the bakery stays ship-shape throughout the day. It is very calm and comfortable, so I ask that students make themselves at home, but also to be mindful of the working space.
I am St Johns Ambulance advanced first aider trained.
Is there any continued support when I get home?
Yes! We offer continued support and encourage students to share their experiences through the WhatsApp group. In addition, once you sign up for a course you will be given 12 months GOLD membership of The Sourdough Club. This gives you access to Vanessa's notes and teaching. Sign up for the club using the code sent to you in your booking acknowledgement email.
Is there anywhere to park?
There is lots of parking nearby as we are in a small rural village in a residential area. You can park all day for free. I do however have neighbours that are visually impaired and another neighbour who needs wheelchair access on the pavements. Unfortunately in the past, we have had several students park inconsiderately which caused upset to both my neighbours and my students, who have had to leave during the class to re-park their cars. so please do park considerately.
We are also doing works on our driveway so parking on our driveway is not possible.
Occasionally you find spaces on the opposite side of the road to the school, but there have been a few instances of wing mirrors being knocked off as people drive too fast around the corner, so I suggest parking either on the High Street before you reach the Griffin Pub and walk about 50 yards down and round the corner to us or try parking further down and round to the left by the church, or on Manor Road, all just 1–2 minutes walk away from the school.
Why is the composition of my gut microbiome so important?
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of interest in the influence of the gut microbiome on overall health. The microbes that live in our digestive system (about 100 trillion of them) play a hugely important role. These bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoans form an ecosystem which we are now finding helps in protecting us from diseases, and can boost our mental wellbeing. Research in this field is relatively young and there is much still to discover, but it is becoming obvious that we have a symbiotic relationship with these microbes, and they are central to our health.
We know that a healthy, balanced gut microbiome helps us to process food – it is essentially at the heart of a healthy digestive process. The microbes also protect us from infection through interactions with our immune system, and help manufacture vitamins, including vitamin K and vitamin B12. Research shows that these microbes can send signals, via the vagus nerve, to our brain. Through this they may be influencing our mood, our appetite, and even our levels of anxiety. Recent studies have shown that the balance, or imbalance, of the gut microbiome can be linked to a range of conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other autoimmune diseases.
From what we now understand, the composition of an individual’s microbiome seems to be determined by a combination of what we were seeded with at birth, what we eat and our lifestyle. Things like diet, exercise, the medicines we use and our environment can have a huge effect on our microbes. As a baker who has been researching the role of the microbiome in digestion, my interest has become focused on whether long, slow, fermented sourdough breads can have a positive effect on the gut microbiome. As yet there is no definitive evidence of this. It’s simply the conclusion I have reached having read many studies conducted in laboratories and on laboratory animals.
Can you recommend some places to visit and things to do near the school?
We have a whole page of suggestions for you -
Mobile phone usage at The Sourdough School
The school is a mobile phone-free space whist I am teaching. We want you to forget your busy life and focus on sourdough while you are with us. You can take photos and of course, you are free to make calls in the library or garden during breaks, but we ask that you turn your phone off during the workshops whilst we are teaching.
Should anyone need to contact you in an emergency, they can use the school number +44 (0)1604 881274 - the phone is our land line and rings upstairs in the office loudly.
Do I need to use WhatsApp?
Yes, we ask that all students download WhatsApp before they arrive at the school. This allows us to keep in touch with you before, during and after the workshop and you can talk to your classmates after the workshop has finished. It's a great way to share photos of your bakes, exchange ideas and ask questions. It also means we can send messages as we often find if you bring a phone from abroad it gets expensive for you to receive calls.
We offer ongoing support through the WhatsApp group for up to 12 months after the course, so it is important to have access to the app to be able to participate fully.
What will I learn on a workshop?
You will learn more than you even knew there was to learn, including:
- Every step of making sourdough
- Starter refreshment
- Blending and milling flour
- Familiarisation of the variables affecting fermentation
- About fibre, protein & gluten in the flour
- An overview of nutrition & digestibility of bread
- Eating symbiotically for optimal gut health
- Why diversity is key to gut health
- About the gut microbiome and why the kind of bread you eat matters
- Probiotics & prebiotics
If you have any other questions not covered here please email us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
We are very much looking forward to meeting you.
The Sourdough School Team