By Cameron Small
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The Westwood Library, with the support of the Friends of the Library, recently partnered with Forge Baking Company of Somerville to bring sourdough bread to the Westwood community last Wednesday, November 2. The class was taught by Forge Baking Co-Head Baker Jojo Emerson. Emerson is a self-taught baker and started from home, which was a comfort to the new bread maker attendees at the Islington Branch; most of the attendees had no prior experience with making bread.
Westwood Library Assistant Caitie Imbergamo was the one who had the idea for the program. Imbergamo said the library originally wanted to do a program like this in the spring, but ultimately decided to move it up to before the holidays. Communications started between the library and Forge Baking Co during the summer in order to put the program on. There are currently no plans for an immediate follow-up to the program, or to host it again — but ideas of continuing to have baking classes for various sourdough products are fermenting.
Takeaways from the class were both educational and entertaining. An educational tip would be the suggestion to bake by weight, not volume. This is due to differences of the baker in volume scoops – how packed in a measuring cup, or how rounded it is.
Entertaining tips included a description of the technique to manually mix dough, likening it to a cat.
The process for sourdough bread baking does involve letting the Doug rest so that yeast can ferment – which is where a lot of new bakers tend to go wrong, in Emerson’s view. People tend to let it rest, not knowing that while letting dough rest, there are other steps that need to be taken concurrently to create good sourdough, such as folding. There are also multiple rest periods, called proofing or fermenting, that often get skipped or shortened. As such, attendees were not leaving the event with a fully-cooked and ready-to-consume loaf. They did leave with tips, dehydrated sourdough starter, and recipes for other sourdough baked goods that are not just bread.
For future programs similar to making sourdough, check the events calendar of the Westwood Library.