Earlier this month, I have taken artisan II sourdough classes at the San Francisco Baking Institute. Upon my arrival, I contacted David Snyder (dmsnyder) who offered to pick me and my friend from the Hotel next morning. As blogged by David, we parked in the city, and walked up to the ferry building , where the Saturday’s Farmer’s Market was located, and there, we met David’s brother Glenn, (also a TFL member).
After visiting the Market and notably Acme, and Della Fattoria Bakeries and having some of their pastries, Glenn took us to a high rise building where he works and the view of San Francisco Bay from his office was spectacular.
We went down and walked across the block down to Tadich Grill. We had some fine grilled fish there, and the place was charmingly classic and vintage. Loved the food and the sourdough on the table.We then headed back to pick up some tickets for the muni (Bus) in order to get to mission district, where Tartine and thorough bread bakeries are. We had some fine pastries and coffee, at Tartine. I bought a Danish Rubrod , since their fresh bake for the day has not yet come out of the oven. I took some photos when they were loading the country white. It was probably around 3:30 in the afternoon by then.
We moved to Thorough Bakery, which is owned by the San Francisco Baking institute, but were not able to consume any more pastry or coffee .In retrospect, I regret not sampling their wares, as i found later how good SFBI’s pastries are. Later, we took the muni Back to where the car was Parked and we drove to meet Glenn at B. Patisserie; another Bakery Co-owned by Michael Suas of SFBI. Needless to say, that everything was spectacular. I bought a baguette, and had a Kouign Amann Pastry. Exhausted from the 16 hour flight, and overfed with Pastry and coffee, we asked David and his wife Susan to drive is back to the hotel. David, his wife Susan , and his brother Glenn were such kind, and hospitable people. I thank them so much for that super fun day.
The following day, my friend and I took the Bart to the city, where we visited The Mill. We had a late breakfast of almond butter on Whole Wheat toast , and a coffee. We lined up for a bread, too, and picked up an Einkorn loaf. The Toast was very good, and so was the bread. We walked back to the nearest BART station and headed back to the Hotel in order to take rest for next day’s class.
Next morning at 7 am, we headed for the Institute. Our Instructor was Chef Miyuki, who began the day with a lecture summarizing the main points covered in Artisan I class, and introducing Sourdough Baking. After having acquainted with the rest of the students, we were divided into 3 groups, each stationed at a table. On the first day, we had a yeasted levain White bread to mix, proof and bake on the same day. Furthermore, we had to start a new sourdough culture which we are supposed to bake with on the 5th day. Also, we fed multiple levains for Day 2 doughs, and scaled their final dough ingredients.
On Day two, we mixed final doughs for 4 breads: a single fed stiff levain, a double fed liquid levain, a double fed 70% stiff levain, and a double fed 40% stiff levain. By the end of the class, the breads were baked, and some were cold retarded to be baked first thing on Day 3. We had a tasting session, where all breads are sliced and sampled. The single feed stiff was the most sour of all 4, followed by the 70% and the 40%. As expected, the liquid levain bread was mild with a slight hint of sour. Before we left for the day, we mixed levains for next day’s breads, and scaled their final ingredients. We were scheduled to bake different breads for Day 3: a Whole Wheat sourdough, a sour Rye, a multigrain, and a semolina bread.
Day 3 began by mixing the scaled dough ingredients for all recipes, one at a time. We then baked the retarded loaves from day 2, which were cooled and stacked away for later sampling, We witnessed firsthand the effectiveness and efficiency of a spiral mixer. We learned when to stop mixing, and how to test the dough for strength. Miyuki demonstrated the stretch and fold in the bucket, in addition to scaling, pr-eshaping, shaping, scoring and baking. It was such a delight to see her skillfully and swiftly manipulate a piece of dough into a seamless elegant shape. We baked all loaves, and prepared the leavens and scaled final dough flours for next day’s breads.
My Day 4 breads
After having our breakfast on day 4, we proceeded to mix the final doughs of all 4 breads. The breads were: Walnut- raisin, Olive , Ciabatta, and Challah. A Hand mix dough was also mixed to be baked next day retarded as a Miche. Same goes for Day 4; proofing, scaling, shaping, and baking. However, we retarded the Olive and Walnut raisin to be baked on Day 5. I was finally confident of braiding a challah dough, after Miyuki’s demonstration. At the end of the day, we mixed leavens for Day 5, and scaled the final ingredients.
Day 5, has arrived. I noticed no loss of energy or enthusiasm amongst my fellow students. We were all working with dough as if it were day 1. We began by mixing 2 doughs: a A levain Baguette with a Biga, and a stiffer French dough for decorative shapes. Cold fermented Olive and Walnut raisin were then baked, and then set aside to cool, followed by the 1.5 Kg Miche. Miyuki showed us how to stencil images/letters onto a Miche. We scaled and proofed the baguettes on linen, and then shaped the French dough into decorative pieces, such as a fendu, a tordu..etc. It is noteworthy to mention, that most of the breads that we baked in class had a small quantity of instant yeast added.
As the last of the baguettes came out of the oven, we headed to class for a recap Lecture. At the end of the lecture, Michael Suas, the man behind it all, walked in. He congratulated us, and after a brief chat with the students, he distributed the certificates. Before departing, we gathered downstairs for a group photo, and bid the faculty and each other farewell.
As a finale, i visited the Fisherman's Wharf, where Boudin Bakery is. I took a couple of pictures, and bought a chocolate filled sourdough. It was such a monumental Bakery to be in. and so ends my trip.The charming experience of these 5 days will remain etched in my memory for years to come.