Sourdough 2.0 at the 2016 Edmonton Resilience Festival

The second annual Edmonton Resilience Festival took place on April 30 – May 1, 2016 at the Boyle Street Plaza. The festival continued the themes it began to explore in their first year, encouraging attendees to learn new skills and adopt a "do it yourself" mentality.

Resilience Festival 2016

2016 Edmonton Resilience Festival

Organizers from The Local Good, the volunteer-driven organization behind the festival, seemed satisfied with the attendance this year. The shift in timing of the festival (changed from February to May) did make it easier to program outdoor activities, and did promote more food truck foot traffic. Workshop pricing also changed to much more differentiated ticket prices, ranging from $10-$50.

Resilience Festival 2016

Sourdough Surprise workshop

I decided to sign up for Sourdough Surprise: Naturally Leavened Biscuits, Waffles and Muffins after Su, my sourdough companion from last year, tipped me off. It was led by Owen Petersen of Prairie Mill. I really enjoyed Owen’s Bread Making 101 session at the inaugural festival – he demystified sourdough for me, and made scratch bread seem much less daunting. I’ve made many loaves since then, and (a personal achievement), have managed to keep the starter we were given that day alive for more than a year. In many ways, I went in to this class treating it as "Sourdough 2.0", eager to build on the base of knowledge I had already learned.

Resilience Festival 2016

Owen Petersen

Most in the class were new to the idea of sourdough, so Owen provided an overview about the starter (affectionately named Julie) as well as a basic sourdough bread recipe. Even though it was a review for both Su and I, I appreciated the refresher, as there were some things I had already forgotten. The intimate two hour class also permitted the luxury of time, and we were able to move through each topic at a leisurely pace. Owen is such an enthusiastic teacher that you can’t help but be inspired to pick up his baking mantle.

Resilience Festival 2016

Su and I show off our dough babies

We ended up only making muffins and waffles. The recipes called for starter-based batters, which lent the final products textures slightly different than more traditional flour-only based recipes. The muffins, for instance, had a much tighter crumb and were more dense than I’m used to, but will be worth a try at home.

Resilience Festival 2016

Sourdough muffins

The waffle recipe, however, will go into our immediate rotation. So simple, the resulting waffles had a nice chew and a slight tang. I can envision making batches large enough to freeze and have on hand.

Resilience Festival 2016

Sourdough waffles

My only disappointment was that we didn’t have the chance to make the biscuit recipe as originally advertised. I recognize that festival finances change, so I don’t begrudge the fee increase (from $25 in 2015 to $50 in 2016), but the takeaways this year didn’t seem to have the value that I was looking for – besides sampling some muffins and waffles, we took home the same amount of sourdough as last year.

Resilience Festival 2016

Mixing up bread dough

Overall, I enjoyed the chance to learn more tips and tricks from Owen, and look forward to experimenting further in my own kitchen! Thanks again to Owen for sharing your gift and to the organizers behind the festival for putting on the event.

Bread Making 101 at the Edmonton Resilience Festival

It’s hard not to love a city like Edmonton where, even in the dead of winter, new festivals can be imagined. Last weekend, The Local Good’s inaugural Edmonton Resilience Festival took place at the Boyle Street Plaza. The Festival aims to “strengthen community resilience through skill-sharing workshops and other events, inspiring participants to help create a sustainable, creative and promising future.” Session topics ranged from healthy living to cooking to community building, and were organized into streams, but there was also the option to purchase tickets to individual workshops.

For an event just in its first year, it encompassed so many elements beyond sessions. Although there was a fee to register in the various hands-on and discussion-based workshops, organizers did not want financial means to be a barrier for those interested. As such, they had planned many free activities open to the public, including more formal learning opportunities as well as more informal chances to connect with others through conversation cafes or information booths.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Outdoor skating and bonfire

On the Spot Pop-Ups had also been asked to be a part of the event, and organized local artisans to be on-hand displaying and selling their wares.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Information fair and market pop-up

I attended one of the workshops on Sunday morning, alongside my friend Su. There are few things that would have convinced me to be ready to learn at 8am on a Sunday, but fresh bread is definitely one of them. Owen Petersen, of Prairie Mill, has been an instructor at Eat Alberta for years, but I’d never had the chance to participate in his class before. This was a great opportunity to do so, all for just $25.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Owen slices into some fresh bread

The class took place in a kitchen on the second floor of the Boyle Street Plaza. Perhaps a reflection of the early start time, there were just six of us in the group. Because of this, it was even more interactive, and Owen was able to answer all of our burning questions about yeast, flour and baking vessels (did you know that to simulate a steam oven, all you need is to bake your dough in a lidded container? Genius).

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Different oven-safe containers

We were each gifted not only with a jar of Owen’s starter (18 years old and named “Julie”), but also mixed up a batch of dough to take home. Owen’s methodology was so straightforward, that both Su and I felt inspired to start baking immediately. The class reminded me of Anna Olson’s pie dough recipe at Christmas in November – it was enabling instead of discouraging, as some more finicky, perfection-driven chefs have been known to be.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Su mixes her dough

I learned that breads made from starters are more forgiving than those made from dry yeast, which again, made the process of baking seem less daunting. Owen shared a story about forgetting about dough in his car overnight, which still resulted, the next day, in a fairly good loaf.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

All smiles with Owen

After the session, I headed home and incorporated cheddar into half of my prepared dough. It resulted in a pretty killer cheese loaf.

Edmonton Resilience Festival

Say cheese!

A week later, with the remaining dough, I left the bread to bake even longer to achieve a more beautiful crust.

Edmonton Resilience Festival


Next week, the training wheels will come off though, and I’ll have to craft the dough from scratch on my own. But the promise of freshly-baked bread awaits. Thanks to Owen for leading a wonderfully educational session, and to The Local Good for organizing a great festival – here’s to next year!