It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning and I’m sipping coffee on the terrace of the Jordan Restaurant with top chef George Jardine. The view is nothing short of spectacular.
I’m limbering up for my first ever bread baking course. Every Saturday six people are getting a chance to share George’s love with all things bread at his restaurant at the Jordan wine estate in Stellenbosch.
There are five other participants. Two women from Stellenbosch, who are serious foodies, and two Frenchmen, with their eyes twinkling at the thought of getting their hands floury.
It transpires that one of these women is dead set on opening her own bakery in a few years time.
Then there is myself, and my 11 year old child who adores anything to do with baking and cooking.
Just before 8.30 am we don our aprons, take up positions and Georges outlines what we are up to.
We will mix, knead, make and bake three different types of bread and then, at noon, we will eat a scrumptious lunch. Off we go.
George is very hands on. When I complain that my arm is tiring from all the mixing, a lack of practice, George takes over. Andrew is his second is command today, and he is busy measuring out all the dry ingredients for us. I feel completely and utterly looked after. Everything is explained clearly.
The first bread we make is basic white bread. The dry ingredients are mixed and then warm water is added and then we are kneading. The dough is covered with plastic and put to one side to prove.
We roll out more dough into one big sausage length and put olives and parmesan cheese into the middle. Then into the oven. Next up its rosemary and garlic focaccia. We push and pull the dough this way and that way. Then we leave it to prove once again.
That just means letting it sit and allowing the yeast to do its thing.
That takes 20 minutes, when that’s done we poke the top of the dough with our fingers. George says my poking is a bit too strong. Lots of laughter. On go the tomatoes, sea salt and a chopped up garlic, skin and all.
George says the outer layer crisps up and gives texture. A good dollop of Willow Creek oil is poured over the focaccia and then it’s put into the oven. There’s lots of fun along the way.
The oven is brick built, waist high, it looks like a pizza oven to me, and the temperatures can reach 350 degrees. The bread is put in and out using a paddle. The breads cook so fast, it only takes 15 or 20 minutes. The wood fire allows temperatures to really get hot.
While that batch is cooking we move onto the last bread of the day. It’s my favourite; Cape Seed Loaf. This is so easy to make it’s a sin.
It’s a case of stir all the dry ingredients together, pour in the water, stirring all the time. It’s like porridge or a batter, more than dough.
Bingo! bread making finished. The class takes place in a real kitchen, so I get to watch while the kitchen brigade set about all the daily activities of a busy successful kitchen.
Stock is being drained off. The sous-chef is preparing piglet for lunch, and is tying bits of skin and bones into lovely little portions using twine. Then George asks me to have a look into his larder and there it is, a piglet hanging up, head, tail the lot. My mouth waters at the thought of what George will do with that.
At 12 noon we are served a sparkling wine while sitting on the terrace, chatting and laughing about bread. The sun is blazing, life is good.
It’s been a blast, really great fun. Lunch is served. Mussels, pate, duck and bread and lots of bread, fresh bread, straight out of the
All the participants oh and ah over the food.
The French guys are in heaven. They can’t praise South African food and wine enough.
Individual carry bags are handed to us, with our baking successes tucked safely inside.
My 11 year old is delighted with himself.
I’ve enjoyed myself so much.
George is laid back and relaxed, nothing is a problem.
There was lots of help on hand the whole time. He is very patient and his obvious passion for bread and all things food shines through.
The cost is 500 Rand for a morning of baking, snacks, the breads you make and the incredible lunch with wine. And you get to see a master in action. Brilliant.
I want to come back and do more cooking with George.
And guess what? If you get a group of six together and you want to learn to do anything at all, not just bread baking, George will put the course together for you on a Saturday morning.
Whether it’s roasting, cooking fish, pastry making or Italian food George will do a course for you.
Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine.
021 881 3612