TV chef Tim serves up a bread-making masterclass with ESSE

Cooking —
Tim Maddams Sourdough Session ESSE 990 EL

LEADING TV chef Tim Maddams showcased the baking credentials of ESSE’s super-efficient electric stoves in a hands-on cookery demonstration at Bowland Food Hall in Clitheroe, Lancashire.

The former River Cottage head chef led a lively interactive demonstration in which 15 amateur bakers rolled up their sleeves to take a deep dive into the subtle skills of crafting the perfect sourdough loaf by hand.

Tim has worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Fergus Henderson, Marco Pierre White and Mark Hix and is a regular guest on C4’s Sunday Brunch and BBC Food and Drink.

During his time as head chef at TV’s River Cottage, Tim pioneered ethical, local, seasonal produce and became a key spokesperson in the arena of responsibly sourced food.

After an introductory demonstration of the proving, kneading and baking processes, participants from as far afield as the USA put Tim’s top sourdough tips into practice.

And as a dozen baguettes baked to perfection in ESSE’s latest 990 EL 13Amp cooker, Tim treated his guests to a light lunch of vegetable stew and a crisp, wonderfully crusty sourdough loaf served warm from the oven. After just 30 minutes at a nice and even 200˚C, Tim and his baking ‘apprentices’ discovered the 990 bakes absolutely beautiful bread.

“The great thing about baking with an ESSE is the all-round evenness of the heat that convects around the oven really well,” said Tim, who regularly uses ESSE products for his live cookery demonstrations. “Once cast iron gets hot, it stays hot – even if you keep opening the door to check what’s going on inside. I throw in quite a bit of water to improve the crust when baking bread, but the temperature inside the ESSE always remains constant.

“The other handy innovation is the adjustable vent. Close it and you can keep moisture in the oven for baking really crusty bread; but open it for cooking great roast potatoes where you’re looking to drive off the moisture to give them a lovely crispy finish.”

Today’s modern electric range cookers are clean, quick to reach cooking temperature and affordable to run. Simply plug in, switch on and in just over 15 minutes, it’s good to go. ESSE’s electric cookers benefit from elements that ‘wrap around’ each oven for completely even temperatures. These surround elements have been granted ‘patented’ status in recognition of this unique innovation.

Tim continues to teach, cook and consult on ethical food sourcing. His latest book: Game – the 15th in the River Cottage Handbooks series – is now available in bookshops.

Tim’s masterclass was one of a series of events taking place nationwide during ‘Sourdough September’ the Real Bread Campaign organized by Sustain to inspire people to bake their own bread or seek out quality artisan baking from local sources.

Tim’s top sourdough baking tips:

  • Invest the time – it takes between eight and 12 hours to make a good sourdough from scratch. Proving takes four times as long as for a yeast-risen dough
  • Feed your starter or ‘leaven’ regularly – especially if it’s been in the fridge for a while. This is the best way to adjust the sourness to your individual taste
  • The wetter the better – a wet dough mix may be harder to handle, but it will make a better loaf
  • Watch the dough, not the clock – the dough will tell you when it’s ready to bake, it’s just a matter of practice
  • Don’t scrimp on the salt – otherwise your bread will taste bland
  • Respect the dough – handle it gently – take care not to knock the air out of it
  • Use semolina to minimise sticky ‘dough fingers’ without drying out the mixture
  • Make sure the oven is up to temperature well before the bread goes in – between 180˚C and 200˚C (aim for the ESSE cooker dial guide to be at the low end of HOT) – depending on the finish you want
  • Introduce steam – either with a water spray bottle or by placing a small bowl of water on the bottom shelf of the oven.

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