Bread School

Along with 15 other lucky people I’ve been attending the Artisan 1 bread workshop at the San Francisco Baking Institute. People have come from all over: Kuwait, Trinidad, Australia, Taiwan, and of course the US and Canada. Many are professional bakers who want to round out their technical knowledge, while others are hobbyists who want to perfect making bread at home.
The Artisan 1 course is about fundamentals. In the classroom we’ve learned about the chemistry of bread. How protease and amylase enzymes present in flour react with yeast in the presence of water (hydration) over time to create ‘crumb’; how mixing contributes to crumb structure; the role of flour and the characteristics of different types including ancient grains; how pre-ferments add flavor and lengthen shelf life. On the floor, where we’ve progressively spent more of our time, we’ve mastered the windowpane technique and learned the difference between short, improved and intensively mixed doughs (the short mixes followed by some folding are the ones that yield the desireable ‘regular irregularity’ or open crumb structure that are perfect for capturing whatever you like to put on your bread!). Also on the floor we are developing our hand skills, learning to divide and pre-shape and finally shape and score proper baguettes, boules and batards. According to Safa, our instructor, once you can do a hundred baguettes, all within a centimeter of each other in length, consistent girth, all well scored, with no spiraling of the ends, no bursting seams, with consistent internal structure – you’ve mastered it—and once you’ve mastered baguette, you can do anything.
About 10,000 more practice baguettes ought to do it ….
The first day we did a straight baguette. The second day we demonstrated the effect of mixing by preparing baguettes using short, improved and intensive mixing techniques. The third day, more baguettes, we compared the autolyse technique and the use of high protein flour. At the end of that day we made pate fermentee, a preferment to use the next day. The fourth day we used our preferment to make pan bread, egg bread, multigrain, rye and whole wheat breads. Today, the last day of this workshop, we will return to baguette, comparing the use of poolish, sponge and pate fermentee. At the end of each day there is ‘crit’ where Safa cuts open your bread
Next week, Artisan 2, using natural yeasts to make sourdough breads ….
day 2 definite improvement ... 9,998 days to goday 3 prepared for critcrit day 1day 4 harvest

One thought on “Bread School

  1. Whhaaa! That sounds soo fun!

    I just had my first slice of BH’s own bread, and I can tell ya, it was fantastic! Hopefully they will only get better (although I’m not sure how much better they can get).

    Keep it up!


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