SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 1
Wow! There is no way possible to describe today in full, even with photos. I'll try a summary.
The day started with coffee and fabulous raspberry muffins and meeting some of the other students. Once the class convened, after a brief but very warm greeting by Michel Suas (hisself!) we each introduced ourselves. About half the class are culinary professionals - some professional bakers. They came from Portland, Seattle, Pittsburg (PA) and elsewhere. Other students were chefs who wanted to add bread making skills. The other half were home bakers, some of whom sold their bread on a small scale.
The teacher was not one of the regular faculty. Miyuki is a graduate of Johnson & Wales and has worked in production at SFBI for 4 years. She occasionally fills in as an instructor. She was knowledgable, organized, responsive and clearly expert.
About half the day was spent in the classroom reviewing "the basics." It was like an executive summary of the chapters on the baking process, dough handling and ingredients in Advanced Bread & Pastry, except we could ask questions when we didn't understand or wanted more information. The other half was in the "lab." We worked today with a straight baguette dough Miyuki scaled and mixed. (Tomorrow we do it all.) The hands-on part was scaling, pre-shaping, shaping, proofing, transferring, scoring and baking. For every step, Miyuki demonstrated for the class then wandered among us to monitor our own attempts, correcting errors and answering questions. At the end of the day, when we all had our 5 baguettes, she assessed each student's shaping, scoring and crumb structure. If something was not perfect, she told us exactly how to correct the problem tomorrow. She instructed us in the criteria by which baguettes are judged in competition, including how to taste them.
It was wonderful to see Miyuki handling dough and shaping, but the biggest surprise was feeling the dough at various stages of an improved mix. Miyuki did use the window pane to demonstrate the degree of gluten development. The surprise was how low a level of gluten development she took as her end point for mixing.
My greatest pleasure was being able to shape full-sized baguettes rather than the demi-baguettes I must shape at home because of the narrowness of my baking stone and oven.
My biggest challenge (so far) has been in scoring, but I'll have plenty of opportunity to practice over the remainder of the workshop.
Here are a few photos of people, equipment and product. The baguettes pictured are the ones I made. They had the best flavor of any baguettes I've every tasted anywhere, but I'm promised improvement as the week progresses.
The Front Door
Loader and deck oven
Some of my classmates
My first full-sized baguettes, waiting for judgement