Bake Bread in Rural Tuscany: Learn the Art of Artisan Bread-Making

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Artisan Bread School is again combining a rustic spring vacation in Tuscany with hands-on courses in artisan bread-making. Set on the La Macchia Estate in Mercatale di Cortina, bread lovers will be able to take advantage of two-, three- and five-day courses taught by European master bakers, and learn how to make mouthwatering Italian, European and English breads.

…thank you for introducing me to the ways of artisan baking.

Artisan Bread School's (ABS) second season will offer a five-day in-depth course taught by multi-award winning baker Emmanuel Hadjiandreou and several two- and three-day courses taught by ABS founder Carl Shavitz. It's the perfect vacation for those who want to travel to Italy to learn artisan bread-making or improve upon their bread-making skills.

Last year's students raved about their experiences…"the focaccia was fabulous;" "great course and great weekend;" "…thank you for introducing me to the ways of artisan baking."

Set in the rural Tuscan village of Mercatale di Cortona, in the Val de Pierle, students live in surroundings that take them back to another time and place. The La Macchia Estate lies on the edge of Mercatale di Cortona. The family has farmed the land for hundreds of years and still does today.

The Estate sits on a hill surrounded by trees, overlooking the valley. Its ancient and simply-restored buildings incorporate Etruscan and later rural architecture, providing agriturismo-style accommodations.

The five-day in-depth course will be taught by multi-award winning baker, Emmanuel Hadjiandreou of Judge's Bakery, a one-stop organic shop and bakery in Hastings, Sussex, UK. Students will leave with extensive knowledge and experience in the craft of artisan baking.

Two- and three-day courses, taught by artisan baker and ABS founder Carl Shavitz, will provide students with the skills to make focaccia, ciabatta, rustic sourdoughs and more.

La Macchia evokes a time when artisan bread-making was the norm rather than the exception. Free of modern distractions, it provides the feel of a simpler time.

Olive oil used for Artisan Bread School classes comes from the estate's 3,000 olive trees. An olive oil tasting is included in the course. Students will use flour from Shipton Mill, including Italian specialty flours, German rye, English and Canadian flours. Other ingredients, in season, will be purchased from local markets.

About Carl Shavitz, Founder, Artisan Bread School

Carl Shavitz has loved real bread since his youth in New York City. Shavitz moved to England as a Fulbright Scholar to pursue a career as a lutanist and never left. After 20 years performing and traveling in Europe, Eastern Europe, Australia, Asia and the US, he moved to the other side of the microphone. He was executive producer for WDUQ, a National Public Radio station in Pittsburgh, PA, while simultaneously acting as a consultant to Classic FM, the UK's major commercial classical music station.

Then, he decided to become a chef.

Shavitz trained at The Village Bakery in Melmerby Cumbia and Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland. Once he started bread-making, he was hooked.

He worked at The Village Bakery and The Three Crowns Inn in Herefordshire before becoming an independent artisan baker, making bread for restaurants and specialty stores in the Cambridge (UK) area. His passion for full flavored, crusty and chewy breads led him to create the Artisan Bread School with the intention of sharing the art of artisan bread-making.

"Teaching people how to make bread is never relaxing," he said. "But when students eat their own bread, and later tell me what fantastic breads they're producing at home for family and friends, it's worth it!"

Travelers can find course descriptions and fees on the ABS website, http://www.artisan-bread-school.com . Advanced registration is required for all courses. For more information, contact Artisan Bread School at carl(@)artisan-bread-school.com.

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LESLIE J. YERMAN
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