Heritage Grains, Wild Yeast, and Sourdough | Beesham The Baker Part 1

 

In today's episode, we welcome Beesham the Baker!  Beesham is the Head Chef at Waldorf School and also hosts workshops and shares his knowledge in Sourdough baking with people from all over the world. With over 25 years of experience, needless to say he's an expert chef and artisan baker! 

Want to make your own sourdough at home? It's seriously way easier than you think. Cultures For Health offers DIY kits and a variety of starter cultures to make at-home baking and fermentation super simple. Best of all, we are offering 25% off when you use the code CFHPODCAST. 

Cara:

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the Cultures for Health podcast. This is your host, Kara and I'm excited to have you all back. Today we are bringing on a special guest that is responsible for the world's biggest sourdough masterclass, Bishop the Baker. Him is the head chef at Waldorf School and also hosts workshops and Sheriff's knowledge in sourdough baking with people from all over the world with over 25 years of experience. Needless to say, he's an expert chef and artisan Baker. Want to make your own sourdough bread at Home Cultures for help has everything you need to get started or even level up the skills. Use the Code CFH podcast to get 25% off. Let's get to it. Beesham, please go ahead and introduce yourself and talk a little bit about who you are and how you got into the sourdough world. 

 

Beesham:

Thank you so much for having me here today and it's a pleasure to be here. It's always so nice to talk about sourdough. I’m a sourdough freak. Like, everybody knows me from all over the world. Actually, I just do it in small introduction about myself. I'm a vegetarian chef for almost 38 years. I've been living in different countries and the last country I've been living is Sweden for 36 years. So I was born on a beautiful island of Mauritius. And when I was young, I moved to India and South Africa and I ended up in Sweden. So here I started my sourdough journey started from here almost 25 years ago with the sourdough baking and baking has been part of my work all the time. I've been baking for more than 35 years, even with normal way of baking with yeast. And you just do as everybody do. But I got really fascinated when I met a good friend of mine. He's a German master Baker. He came to my place over 20 years ago and then he was doing a workshop and then I got really fascinated by just by mixing flour, water and salt. And then one could create amazing thing. So from that time I started my own sourdough actually 21 years ago. My first daughter I started 21 years ago. And I'm really happy to say that my daughter is finally now in the one of the only sourdough library in the world, in Belgium. 

 

Cara:

Oh, that's really cool. 

 

Beesham:

Yes. And one of the questions I would request also involved in this project, if somebody wants to read about my starter, it has a very, very special strain and yeast in this, you see, every sort they have different yeast and different strain. So this one when they did the test in the lab and they found this very unique one. 




Cara:

Oh, I was just going to say, is that due to you living in Sweden, sometimes these bacteria get introduced through the environment or through the flower. Do you know how you ended up with kind of this? Like really? 

 

Beesham:

I have no idea it depends how you take care of where you live. Everything depends on the bacteria you have around you. Right. Because if you start in your kitchen, it will take the bacteria that has which you have in your kitchen. The air from will go into the flower in the water and then we'll create this source. So this is how my story, everything started like this. And then I used to travel. I've been to the US a few times to do a workshop. I've been to Asia many times. I've been to India. I've been all over Europe and people have come from all over the world to my workshop in Sweden. I've been having it for some years. And then 72 years ago came the pandemy. Two years ago came the pandemy. And then I could not travel anymore. And then I met this good friend, and then he was a filmmaker. And then we got this idea to do an online workshop. When everybody was going to travel, everybody was home. And the sourdough baking went almost over 300%. Absolutely. We saw that too. Yeah, everyone going home. Finally happened to have time. Yeah. We started with this all in one sourdomaster class. Actually, I'm not afraid to say it is the world's biggest sourdough masterclass. I believe it. I was looking at it. We have over 250 videos, over 20 hours of material, and over 50 plus recipes. So everything that you need to know is there. So that's why I'm not afraid. It's one of the biggest. 

 

Cara:

So I was just going to say, what inspires you to start teaching and start a master class and develop all those recipes or most of them you're like? Actually, after almost twelve years, I decided to start sharing my knowledge. 

 

Beesham:

I thought, so it's time for me now, after twelve years, I would like to share this knowledge to others because I was on different groups on Facebook and people will see my banks and they will say, why you don't teach us? Why don't share your knowledge? So this was the inspiration from the social media. I really wanted to wait. I did not want to do like we see today. There's one thing I just want to mention that sometimes irritated, I get irritated by what I see today. People just go to one, two workshops and then suddenly they are master bakers and then they start giving quotes. You see, it was not like that. I wanted to go very deep into it. It took me ten years with a lot because I've been working professionally and doing baking in a professional level. So in this way, I wanted to wait to go very deep. And we never stopped learning. I'm still learning every day. I keep learning every day. Life is a learning process. We never stop learning. So it's very important. I'm very happy today. And I see the result that we have got from the feedback we have got from the online course is amazing. People from over 145 countries has joined this course. I would never thought people, I don't know, like Iceland, there's some research in Greenland. Yeah. And they are baking bread. It's amazing. It's made me really happy to inspire people and to share this knowledge. For me, it's very important that I have collected a lot of knowledge for so many years. It will be very bad if I die tomorrow and then I don't.

 

Cara:

Well, we're very happy that you're here with us today, ensuring the same your knowledge. 

 

Beesham:

Thank you. Me too. I'm happy to talk and then to share this story to people. Perfect. Are you ready to jump in? This is how everything. And then from the one course, we did two more courses. 

 

Cara:

I saw that. Yeah. That looks really interesting. 

 

Beesham:

Yeah. That is both with sourdough and organic yeast, where you use everything is about slow fermentation. For me, it's very important. It's no fermentation for flavor and to break down that you can digest it easily. And then from after the gluten free, I did one advanced sweet dough that people can do at home, likeWA Song and Denis pastry and Pantone and Columbia, the brioche. Yeah. All the good ones. But it's advanced. You have to understand the baking first before you can stop doing. Because I show people how you can make everything. You know, the course itself is done. Everything is done in a home kitchen. So nothing professional has been used. So use everything, whatever you have at home and to create amazing, the people can go and check on my Instagram, you know, what I do and the amazing result we have. So everything is done in a home kitchen. So it was very important for me. And then definitely another thing was very important also to do like a workshop experience. You see a lot of courses, you edit it, you edit it to just show all the good stuff. But here we take everything in one shop. Everything is done from start to finish. If it's good, it's good. If it's not good, I still show it to people because this is what people are going to experience. That right. Yeah. Of course. If people will try a recipe, of course, they will need time, a couple of try to get it to understand because everything is different. The flowers, the water, the atmosphere, your kitchen temperature, your oven, your mixer. We all have different feeling in our finger when we make the door open because I have seen it on my live workshop when I used to do it. We will have 15 people around the table and we will make the same recipe. Everybody will mix by hand and then we will get 15 different kinds of bread. Come out when it's ready. Day different feeling from our. So that's why to follow just a recipe, people ask me, give me a recipe, give me a recipe. It's not about the recipe, it's about the understanding that we have digitalised it on video. People can see every single step. What you should do, how to make your stuff, what you should do. And with this course, one can one habit for lifetime access. So once they bought it, they buy it and then they have it for lifetime. 

 

Cara:

That's awesome. 

 

Beesham:

I'm really happy to share this to people around the world. Definitely. So everyone go check out the class for sure. All of the classes, actually, they all sound really interesting. I was scoping up and just check the link there. 

 

Beesham:

Just check my Instagram. 

 

Cara:

Definitely. So let's get into talking about sourdough and our starters a little bit more here. So when I was looking through your Instagram and when I was looking through your website, something I noticed, is that the way that or what we think of as sourdough you do a little bit differently. So you're using I don't know if I'm going to say this right, but it's a Leo Madre. Yeah. Or like a pasta Madre is what I would know it as or what I would refer to it as. Can you tell us a little bit about that kind of starter, maybe how it would differ from the general public understanding of like a sourdough starter and why you chose to kind of go that route and what that kind of looks like and means and maybe talk a little bit about different sourdough starter styles and kind of give us a general overview of that and maybe some recommendations and advice to people looking at their own starter who are like, maybe I want to try this style or maybe I want to try this style if there's different uses. Like if you're making pasta, use the pasta Madre. If you're using everyday country bread, just use your everyday sourdough. Can you tell us a little bit about that? 

 

Beesham:

Actually, the pasta Madre? If you go in the Internet, there's not so much information about it. So much. There's really not. It's an Italian, there's not so much information. Actually. It's little more complicated because I use it mostly for my sweet dough. I hardly make any bread with it. Okay. So I use it for the Panasonic, for the brioche, for the quasong. So I use mostly for the sweet dough, because what I have noticed because first of all, if you have the comparison between two starters, there is a normal liquid starter and the pasta Madre or Levito Madre or the stiff starter is the same name, Levito Madre pasta. The only problem when you have to use it is you have to do a refreshment of it for three times in 9 hours. So that means it's consuming more time. Of course you can use it. Let's say you make one refresh and you use it after, let's say 9 hours or 9 hours, you're going to use it. The problem is that you will get the most sour bread because the liquid sourdough is more lactic acid and the stiff soda is more acidic. So that's the difference. That's why I don't use it for bread. So I just use it for the sweet door because then I will do the three refresh every 3 hours for 9 hours. And then I will use it like for Panatone or for briocheon. So that's the difference. And I think in Italy, of course, you can make bread with it. It's not a problem. But what I see the bread is that sometimes the bread will get more heavy bread. Just one thing I just want to make clear. I have been saying it for so many times. Bread, first of all is not about holes. Okay. Even I can make the biggest holes. I can make one of the biggest holes. If you go and see my photos, I have many breads with big holes, but I decide when the hole should be okay. The bread is about flavor and the nutrition. It depends what kind of ingredients we are using. So that is very important. So of course one can make bread with it. But I prefer to use my liquid sourdough to make bread because when I get a Minzer bread, I will get a minded bread. I will get a much flavorful bread. So in Italy a lot of people is using it for making breads, also to make pizza dough with it. Very nice. I think in Italy use it mostly for the sweet dough, like I'm doing with a lot of sweet doughs, especially for panasona. You really need levitomacy. Oh yeah. 

 

Cara:

So when you're caring for it, do you kind of care for it? Like a liquid starter? And then when you are ready to Bake or when you're about to Bake, that's when you do the three feeds in 9 hours. So like you have a liquid starter and you just take off from your liquid starter, make yours the starter and then you do your 3ft and then you do your bank. Is it its own starter or do you kind of just pull all from one universal source? 

 

Beesham:

No, it's like this is a special stuff. Actually. The one I have, I have it for almost. Let me think back. I have it for almost nine years. I got it from a good friend. He's a master Baker from Italy. He's one of the Champions of baking Azure Marinato. I got it from him. So I have kept it. You see, I take very nice care of it because it's always better to get a starter from somebody who has it instead. Of course, you can take your liquid starter and make a stiff starter, which I've been showing on my workshop. Also that if you have a liquid starter, you convent it to a stiff starter. So it's not a problem. But the one I have, I got it from the Italian good friend of mine. He is a world champion some years back. So I got it from him and I kept it nicely. So I keep it normally since I don't use it so often. So I will refresh it once a week and keep it in the fridge because there are two ways to keep it. There's one way you keep it in water to wash all the acid to make it very mild. That was my next question. Yeah. So this is one way to do it. But the problem here, if you're going to not use it very quick, it can dissolve in the water. Got you. Okay. So how do we keep it? We wrap it in cloth and tie it with a rope for a longer time. You can keep it up to a few weeks and then you can just refresh it. And then before using one need to refresh it, maybe stop like two days before. Do one refresh and leave it for 12 hours. Do a second refresh and leave it for 12 hours again. And then when you decide when you're going to make your dough, then you do this three refresh of 3 hours, three and a half hours in between. So it's very important. It's more complicated. So that's why not so many people is using it, because it's very easy to just take your liquid sourdough, refresh it, and then leave it overnight. Or do a very long refresh with a little percent of flour and water and leave it and start making your dough directly. I think this is the most easiest way to use a liquid storage. So it's more complicated to use a little bit of money. But there's different. Like, I feel like there's different benefits and different drawbacks. Yeah. There's different because the other one is more acidic. As I said, it's more acidic and the liquid is lactic, it's more sweet. Right. And you will get two different results. Also, you will get two different results from the finished product.

 

Cara:

That sounds really interesting. I work mostly with liquid starters. I haven't done a lot with stiff starters. And so when I was looking at your page and all of that, that's definitely something that I personally would want to get more into. Like you said, you're always learning. And I feel like I do know a good bit about liquid servers, but I would love to get into the pasta. Montreal. 

 

Beesham:

Yeah. We don't lose anything by trying, right? Absolutely. That's why I said one. Keep learning. I'm very into it. I try a lot of things. I'm a self taught baking. Nobody really has teach me today. I can travel the world to teach both professional people and do consultation for bakery. And you see, I have done so many workshop around the world. One should not be afraid to try or failure to do mistake. Learn by the mistake all the time. First time doesn't become good. It doesn't matter. Do it again. Go back and see what I have done wrong. Did I put too much water? The door was too stiff. It was under proof or overproof. My fridge was too warm. All this, my oven was not hot enough all these months. The shaping. How did I do the shaping? So it depends. After all, it depends on what we want of the end products. Some people, they are very fine. They are very satisfied. They get a bread even. It's heavy, it's dense, but it's tasting very good. As long as they are happy, what they are baking is fine with them. Who I am telling them, this is too heavy, this is too dense. I am not in this position to say because everybody's baking for eating the product or either you're going to sell it or give it away to some friends, to your family. So that's why we Bake. Of course, today we're baking to post a lot of Instagram. Also. 

 

Cara:

Definitely a little bit of both. Yeah, definitely a little bit of both. Yeah. So do you have any advice? I would say then to people who are looking to start a stiff starter, who are looking to maybe adventure more into the sweet dose, who feel like they've gotten the basics down well, who feel like they understand kneading and feel like they understand mixing, hydration, all of that stuff, what is your advice to kind of like taking the next step with something like sweet doughs, which are a little more complicated, don't form the same gluten structure, all of that kind of thing, moving into stiff starters and moving into sweet dough. What advice can you give us? 

 

Beesham:

Everybody should try to understand what they want. If somebody think, I know a lot about the liquid starter and I really want to go the second step, just to take an example, if you have to make the Panasonic most difficult bakes, you can Bake because the process of three days and so many things can go wrong from the mixing process, from the fermentation, from the shaping, from the baking. There are so many things. So I think it's a challenge. Always challenge yourself. As I said, challenge yourself. Remember, things doesn't go for some person. Maybe the first try they can make it if they have a real good guidance and one need a couple of prize for everything to understand the process. One should never give up. I always say, if you don't have patience, don't Bake. 

 

Kara:

Yeah, definitely. I think the kind of biggest even advice that we've gotten from everyone who's talked about sourdough is don't give up on the first try. Keep trying, keep going,

 

Beesham:

because we're going to get a different result. 

 

Kara:

Yeah, right. Everyone is always going to have a different result. So don't check the Instagram and be like, oh, my gosh, this Instagram has this. Why doesn't mine look like this? It takes time. Like your Instagram didn't get where it is today from many years behind that. 

 

Beesham:

Yeah, definitely. And I think having £2 of dough is going through this hand also. 

 

Kara:

I can't even imagine how many thousands of pounds of dough you've touched in your life. That would be some crazy man. Oh, I'm sure gosh, I'm sure that's crazy. So going off panic tones, I've made a few in my day. But the idea of adding things to your dough, different ingredients, like seeds, garlic, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, all of that kind of stuff. Are there things that you really enjoy adding to your loafs? I saw that you do a lot of different inclusions. Do you have like favorite recipes or favorite ingredients? Are there things that you stay away from because they mess with the fermentation process or the development of the gluten? Anything you can say about any of that? Favorite recipes, favorite flavor profiles, all that kind of good stuff. 

 

Beesham:

Actually, as I said, since I'm a chef, I work in a professional kitchen. Also since I have a profession of a chef and a Baker, both. So when you are both, you try to combine a lot of ingredients to create flavor. For me, very. Not all the chefs can Bake, not all the bakers can Cook. Of course, many of them can. But just in the practical world, people choose to do that because they want to do that and they want to do the other side. So since I'm working with both professions, I like to combine a lot of ingredients in my baking. So I will go through the season. Like the autumn will come, the fall, I will use beetroot and pumpkin in my door. I like to use a lot of seeds, actually mix of seeds because I think it's given a lot of nutrition fiber and it depends, like when Easter or Christmas is coming, I will use a lot of nuts, different nuts in the door. Actually, on my workshop, on my online course, I show different method, one I have with a Walnut bread. What I do with the Walnut, I don't just put it in the dough, I make a leave in with it first overnight to get the flavor, go into this, leave it. And then the next day when I make the dough, it will give a very beautiful, amazing flavor and character to the bread. Even the color depends on what kind of Walnut you're using. Like most of the time, the Walnut bread, I have turned purple because of the Walnut is being in the living, let's say for overnight for 8 hours, the Max, 12 hours. So in this way you can combine different ingredients. One thing is very important is it depends on what structure you want. If you want to have a whole grain bread, it doesn't matter. You can use up to 40% of the extra ingredients because you don't want really a gluten development because you're going for the flavor and the nutrition and the character of the bread. Probably the bread will be more heavy but if you want a more gluten structure in your bread then probably Max extra ingredients. One probably 25% from let's say 15% to 25% and then probably we have to go more on hydration also to get a more elastic dough to get a more strong door and then with a stretch and fall it will create more strength in the door. So in this way I like to experience a lot I use now I'm just waiting soon spring is coming in Sweden I just go outside in the forest and pick up the wild garlic and then I would just use it in the bread with some cheese because I work in the kitchen I like to combine a lot of different ingredients and don't be afraid to sometimes you can get some ingredients that will stop the fermentation or break down the gluten if you have too much acid in that ingredients so this can happen but probably one just need to use less of that so use so much sour thing in the door because it will stop the fermentation and then probably it will break down the door also soon so be careful with that with sour stuff in the door. 

 

Cara:

Thanks for tuning in. We have part two of this conversation coming shortly so stay tuned. In the meantime make sure to go visit Bishom on Instagram for some beautiful bread inspiration. His handle is Bishom underscore the underscore Baker, if you're interested in making your own sourdough at home cultures for health has everything you need to get started use the code CFH podcast to get 25% off subscribe to our podcast to stay in the loop with all things fermented and cultured food. We'll see you. See you next time.