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New baking education resource from the SFBI

December 28, 2010 - 12:44pm -- dmsnyder
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The San Francisco Baking Institute has just launched a new educational resource they call the "SFBI Baking Circle." This is a collection of several hundred brief videos demonstrating techniques used in making breads, viennoiserie and pastries. The videos are designed to supplement Michel Suas' textbook, "Advanced Bread and Pastry," but are useful for any baker without the textbook. There are some samples available for viewing, but access to the full collection requires a paid subscription ($83 for 2-years).

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Today, we baked the three breads that we had shaped yesterday and retarded overnight – olive bread, raisin-walnut bread and miche. We also mixed and baked francese, French “country shapes” and baguette made with both pâte fermentée and liquid levain.



Olive breads loaded and scored



Raisin-Walnut breads, scored on loader



Miche, scored on loader



Miche, baking in the deck oven



Miche crumb




Some of the breads I baked today



Miches, Olive breads, Raisin-Walnut breads




Frank provided detailed instruction and demonstrations of shaping all the breads, but spend most time on the French Country Shapes, which are seldom baked commercially. They are intentionally innovative and decorative.


Frank demonstrating French Country Shapes



Dough pre-shaped for various French Country Shapes



Couronne Bordelais



Fleur. I have also seen this shape called "Marguerite" (Daisy)



Pain d'Aix



Charleston



French Country Shapes on the loader.


I have not posted photos of all the individual shapes Frank demonstrated, for example the Tordu, the Fendu, the Viverais, the Tabatier, and the Avergnat.



Some of the French Country Shapes I made


 


As I'm sure you all appreciate, there is no way to share everything I've learned. I have selected a few bits of information each day that either provided me with new insights or suggestions for techniques that violate conventional wisdom.


Today's tidbits


We spent some time this afternoon reviewing all the formulas, methods and theory we had covered during the entire week. In discussing autolyse, Frank recommended holding back the levain from the autolyse, even when using a liquid levain, except when the hydration in the final dough is extremely low – say, less than 60% - when the levain really would have a very large percentage of the total water in the dough. His reason is that one chief purpose of autolyse is to develop gluten with less mixing. The acid in the liquid levain inhibits gluten formation, thus defeating the purpose of the autolyse.


Michel Suas re-joined our class for the “graduation ceremony.” He made a plea for us to do “artisan baking” and, as much as possible, avoid mechanization and the use of artificial ingredients. He also shared a “hot tip” that the coming fashion in artisan baking is the use of “ancient grains” such as kamut, teff, etc. He told us that the SFBI staff have been actively experimenting with these grains to develop formulas that use them to produce great breads. I certainly had noticed the immense quantity of flour made with ancient grains on racks and palettes in the bakery, although we did not use them in Artisan II.


This week just flew by for me. The quality of Frank Sally's instruction was just outstanding, as was his skill demonstrations. The opportunity to try new breads and learn new techniques is wonderful, as is gaining a better understanding of the baking process, especially fermentation itself.


Especially for the home baker, the chance to spend so much time with other serious bakers, whether they be other home bakers, serious professionals in training or seasoned professionals, is a rare and wonderful experience.  


David


 

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Today, we mixed and baked ciabattas and challah, neither of them sourdough. We mixed and shaped olive bread, walnut raisin bread and miche to be retarded tonight and baked tomorrow. We also scaled ingredients and mixed pre-ferments for baguettes to make tomorrow. The baguettes will be made with two pre-ferments – a pâte fermentée and a liquid levain. The doughs for the ciabatta and for the miche were hand mixes, and all the levains were mixed by hand.



Scaling water for the miche mix



Hand mixing dough for the miches


Frank had us make 6-strand challah but he also demonstrated a variety of other braids. His challot are pictures of perfection. (Mine are pictures of squid who ate some special mushrooms.)



Challah pieces ready to be rolled into strands fro braiding



Frank's challot, ready to be egg washed prior to proofing



Frank's challot, baked



Challah crumb



My Ciabattas and Challot 





Stretch and fold



Dividing ciabatta dough



Placing ciabatta on the proofing board



Ciabatta baking in the deck oven



Ciabatta crumb


Both the ciabatta and the challah are delicious. I'm looking forward to the breads we are baking tomorrow.


We spent all day in the bakery and only were in the classroom to list our tasks for the day, first thing in the morning. Most of Frank's teaching dealt with dough handling issues, but I picked up a couple pearls worth sharing.


I asked him about how levain is calculated differently from other pre-ferments. (See my blog entry for Artisan II-Day 3.) Here's the answer: It's a matter of convention. Levain and other pre-ferments can be calculated either as a percent of dry flour weight in the final dough or in terms of the percent of pre-fermented flour in the total dough. No big deal. Your choice.


Frank also made two interesting comments as we were scaling and shaping the miches. The first was that long loaves like bâtards have a more open crumb structure than boules made with the same dough. I have found that to be true but attributed it to my shaping skills. The second was that the size of the loaf has a significant impact on flavor. I had also observed this with the miche from BBA which I made once as two 1.5 lb boules, which had a different flavor from the 3 lb miches I usually make. Again, I didn't generalize from that one experience at the time. Interesting, eh?


I am anxious to get home and practice some of the skills I've acquired before I lose them.


David


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Today, we mixed and baked four types of bread – whole wheat, rye, multi-grain and semolina. We also scaled ingredients for tomorrow's breads – ciabatta, challah (non-sourdough), olive, raisin-walnut and miche, some of which will be retarded overnight and baked Friday.


The educational goal of today's bakes was to demonstrate the impact of different ingredients such as whole grains and seeds on fermentation rates, dough consistency, crumb structure, etc.



Some of my breads from today's bakes


Personally, I found the sourdough whole wheat and rye rather un-exceptional. The multi-grain made with levain was much superior to the one we made with commercial yeast in Artisan I. (It's going to be my breakfast bread tomorrow.) The semolina bread was difficult to handle – a very slack, sticky dough that fermented and proofed really fast – but was the best bread of this type I've tasted. It was very similar to the semolina bread in Maggie Glezer's “Artisan Breads,” for those of you familiar with that wonderful bread.


In the classroom, most of the time was spent discussing retardation of the 3 types covered in AB&P – basically, retardation during bulk fermentation, retardation of formed loaves and retardation and proofing in a cabinet which allows you to warm the product after a period of cold retardation. The advantages and disadvantages of each were covered, as was the types of breads for which each is best suited.


I think I learned the most in the bakery today. The highlights for me were a better grasp on a way to shape bâtards and how to make a chevron cut correctly, two techniques of which I had a poor understanding, in retrospect.



Frank's breads. He made these to demonstrate pre-shaping and shaping. At the end of the day, we sliced one of each type for our tasting and discussion.



Some of the other students' ryes with creative scoring patterns, on the loader ready to bake.



Frank's rye breads, with various scoring. (The rye breads were scored prior to the final proof.)


The whole wheat breads were dusted with flour prior to scoring. Some had a cooling rack placed over them as a sort of template before dusting which makes an pleasing design on the loaves.





 


Frank also discussed more about using baker's math with levains and spoke to a question that Pat raised in a reply to my blog of yesterday. He said that, when you work with preferments like poolish, you think in terms of the percent of prefermented flour in a formula. When working with levains, you think of the levain as a percent of the final dough's dry flour. He didn't go into detail regarding the reason for this difference. I could speculate, but I'd rather try to get him to explain his reasons tomorrow.


David


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Some of the breads I baked on Day 2



The second day of the Artisan II workshop was spent mostly baking the breads for which we had fed the levains and scaled the ingredients yesterday. We also mixed levains and scaled for tomorrows bakes. Classroom time was bits and pieces between dough foldings and during fermentation, but the content was very good.


The instructional goal of today's baking was to see the effects of different types and proportions of levains on flavor. We baked four breads which differed only in these respects.




  1. Bread made with a levain fed once a day. (All the others were made with levain fed twice a day.) This bread was notably more sour than any of the others.




  2. Bread made with liquid levain at 100% hydration. (All the others were made with firm levain at 50% hydration.) This bread had notably less acetic acid tang and a noticeable milky lactic acid flavor – very pleasant.




  3. Bread made with 40% firm levain.




  4. Bread made with 70% firm levain.


     




The last two were not very different from each other in sourdough tang, but the 70% levain bread had a less pleasant, “metallic” after taste, according to some. I didn't perceive the after taste myself. The main take away lesson was that the frequency of starter feeding has more impact on bread flavor than the amount of levain used in the final dough and that the use of liquid versus firm starter really does make a difference in the balance of acetic versus lactic acid flavor in the bread.



Preparing to taste the breads


In the classroom today, Frank reviewed the application of baker's math to breads made with levains and the SFBI's recommendations for levain maintenance for home bakers. I won't go over the baker's math topic, but I'm sure the recommendations for levain maintenance are of interest to many.


The SFBI staff clearly favors keeping liquid levains and twice a day feedings. They also favor keeping your mother/stock starter at 400-500 g. They say smaller amounts result in poorer flavor. However, they also favor feeding your starter in a manner which minimizes the amount of starter you end up discarding. This is accomplished by determining exactly how much starter to feed to get the amount of levain you need to make your dough and not making too much excess.


For a liquid levain feeding, the recommended formula is:


Flour 100% (75% AP flour + 25% WW)


Water 100%


Starter 40%


Again, it is recommended that you feed every 12 hours and that you do two feeding prior to mixing your final dough.


For a firm levain feeding, the recommended formula is:


Flour 100% (same mix as above)


Water 50%


Starter 50%


For the weekend baker, it is recommended that you feed your levain (liquid or firm) as follows:


Flour 100%


Water 50%


Starter 25%


And refrigerate this immediately after the feeding. Activation prior to baking should done with 2 feedings (as described above) at 12 hour intervals. In other words, to mix a dough on Saturday morning, the refrigerated starter should be fed Friday morning and Friday evening.


Frank told us that all of these recommendations derived from extensive experimentation with different formulas and schedules. SFBI staff believes that they result in the best tasting bread. (Need I say that, if your taste differs, you come out of this workshop knowing just what you need to change to get the flavor you prefer?)


At the lunch break, I asked Frank about the formula for miche in AB&P which violates almost all these recommendations. I have described this previously in my TFL blog. He thought this was interesting enough to provide the answer in the next class session.


Michel Suas' intension with his miche formula was to reproduce a bread as close to the traditional miche as possible, and that required knowledge of traditional French village home baking. In the old days – say 150 or more years ago – home made bread was mixed at home but taken to a communal oven or to the village baker to bake in a wood fired oven. The loaves were huge, by today's standards, because baking was a once-a-week chore. So, after the dough was mixed (before adding salt), a portion was removed to perpetuate the culture. This was fed through the week every day, without discarding any of the growing levain. On baking day, some additional flour and water were added, as well as the salt. But, the bulk of the dough consisted of the built up levain. Little additional fermentation was needed. The resulting loaf was very large, very dense and very, very sour. (Frank describes this with a look of disgust on his face.)


While today's breads were baking, we mixed the levains and scaled ingredients for tomorrow's bakes. We will be baking a variety of breads with levain that were made with commercial yeast during the Artisan I class: A whole wheat bread, multi-grain bread, rye bread and challah. We also fed our “from scratch” starters with which we will make breads Friday.


David


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Ruth (our sister) left her sourdough starter in the refrigerator at Pelican Way (vacation home).  I plan to use it when we're back here in a few weeks.  Where shall I start?



 


Dear Glenn,


I'm so happy that you have decided you are mature enough to enter into a long term commitment to a levain. You have, no doubt, heard the expression "starter marriage." I assume, like most, you have the impression this refers to the failed marriage of two people at a young age, but, as the Egyptians first discovered some 5000 years ago, it really refers to the successful long-term relationship between a baker and his or her wild yeast culture.


This can be one of the most rewarding experiences anyone can have, but it only works if there is mutual respect, an understanding of the partner's needs and a willingness on the baker's part to be patient and flexible, especially in the first months of the relationship. There will be disappointments, inevitably. You must accept these adversities and work through them together. If you do, your starter will reward you with nourishment for your body and soul. It will become resilient and forgiving. It will provide an endless variety of pleasures - pain au levain, pain de campagne, sour rye, challah, even croissants! 


As you feed your starter, it will awaken and come alive. It's yeast and lactobacilli will grow and multiply and produce the CO2 that raises your dough and the alcohol and acids that strengthen your gluten and lend complexity of flavor to your bread. But, if you neglect it, it will weaken and ooze liquid (hooch) as it's strength fades to nothingness. Yet, if you feed it again and again, it will revive and forgive you, time after time. Who cannot but treasure such loyalty?


The material requirements for a successful relationship are minimal: Your starter, water, flour and salt. Bowls and spatulas and ovens you have. You will need a scale to accurately measure ingredients. It should measure to 1 g (1/4 oz) and have a tare function. The most inexpensive but very acceptable one I know is made by Escali and costs less than $30. 


Your levain can be fed all purpose (AP) flour, but it really likes its feeding spiced up with a bit of rye and/or whole wheat (WW). The mix I use for feeding my starter is 70% AP, 20%WW and 10% rye. (All measurements are by weight, not volume.) So, I advise you to mix up a batch of starter food, say 210 g AP, 60 g WW and 30 g rye and keep it in a quart jar.


I generally keep my starter at 75% hydration. (This means 4 parts flour to 3 parts water.) And when feeding it, I mix together 1 part starter with 4 parts flour and 3 parts water. For example, mix 15 g starter with 60 g flour (the flour mix described above) and 45 g water. This makes 120 gms of starter. Mix this in a medium sized bowl (3-4 cup size), cover the bowl and let it ferment for 12-16 hours. It should double in volume and be all bubbly with a domed top. I like to do this in a glass or clear plastic container. Before using the starter to make bread, repeat the feeding. Discard all but 20 g of starter and feed the starter with 80 g of flour and 60 g of water. You now have 160 g of starter. It may now double in 6-8 hours. It is now ready to use to make bread.


I would start with a simple San Francisco-type sourdough bread. I would plan on making the same bread several times before you feel you "know it." Then, choose a variation or another type of sourdough bread. I know you like my Sourdough Italian Bread, so you may want to work on that. It is a little trickier, in that it is a wet, sticky dough. I can send you formulas for these or other types of sourdough bread.


There is a wealth of information online. You know TFL. Read Sourdough Lessons which has links to a number of sources. Mike Avery's Sourdough Home - An Exploration of Sourdough also has a lot of good information and tips. You may also want to explore Susan Tenney's Wild Yeast blog for inspiration. If you read my blog on TFL, you will find many formulas, most of which contain detailed instructions for procedures. I'll be home next weekend (making bread, no doubt) so feel free to give a call.


 


Love,


David


 

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SFBI Artisan I, day 4




 


Yesterday, we looked at the effects of two variables - pâte fermentée and high-gluten flour - on one kind of bread - baguettes. Today, we used pâte fermentée as the constant, and made 5 different breads with it. They were:


1. Pan Bread. An enriched sandwich loaf.


2. Rye Bread: A French-style pan de seigle.


3. Whole Wheat Bread 


4. Egg Bread. Very enriched with sugar, eggs and butter and braided.


5. Multi-grain Bread. With a soaker of 3 seeds, rye, whole wheat and AP flour.


 



Plan for the day


 



Ripe Pâte Fermentée. (Incidentally, a good illustration of the chaotic pattern of un-organized gluten resulting from a short mix.)


 


We made multiple loaves of each. We made the pan bread using 3 different shaping methods. We used multiple scoring patterns with the the rye bread and  the whole wheat bread. So, we did 7 shapes, 12 scoring patterns, 5 kinds of dough and 20 loaves, in all. I was truly wiped out by the end of the day. 



My breads from today (absent the 3 pan loaves). Front to back: Multi-grain, Whole Wheat, Egg Bread and Rye Bread.


 



One of my Whole Wheat boules


 


Miyuki squeezed in a couple classroom sessions on different pre-ferments.


As a very special treat for me, Susan Tenney (SusanFNP) came over to SFBI to chat and stuck around helping Miyuki with racking the baked loaves. It was such a pleasure to meet her face to face. She is such a pillar of the home artisan baking world!


At the end of the day, before tasting all the types of breads we baked today, we mixed pre-ferments - pâte fermentée, poolish and sponge - for tomorrow, when we return to baguettes.


The "aha moment" of the day for me was finally really learning how to pre-shape and shape a boule correctly. It's about time, eh? Again, having Miyuki show me once was all it took. Having to then shape 10 boules help consolidate the technique. I learned more in an hour today about this technique then I've learned in the past 3 years. As Leadbelly said, "It's so easy when you know how." 


 


David



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SFBI Artisan I: day 3


 


On day 3 of the Aritisan I Workshop at SFBI, the didactic sessions covered "flour technology" with discussion of the different kinds of wheat, milling and other processes used by millers. In the lab, we again mixed 3 kinds of baguettes in order to compare the consequences of modifying the straight dough method by using high gluten four or by using an autolyse. In each case, while the formula was kept constant, mixing was varied as one would with these variations - longer mixing when using high-gluten flour and much shorter mixing when using an autolyse.


 



 



 


On Days 1 and 2, Miyuki did all the mixing. Today, we all got to use the big spiral mixers with much more (literally) hands on dough-feeling periodically to judge when the dough was adequately mixed.


 



 



Transferring proofed baguettes to the loader


 



Scoring baguettes before loading


 


Just to clarify: When different methods were used, I made 5 baguettes with each dough, even though my photos only show (the best) 3 of each batch.


We were able to actually experience the different dough handling of each mix when stretch and folding, dividing, pre-shaping, shaping, scoring, etc. We could also see the consequences of these variations for loaf volume, crust color, cuts opening, crumb structure and color, aroma and flavor. Miyuki repeatedly quizzed us on the reasons we got the results we did for each of these variables.


 



Our baguettes from today, cooling


 



Comparing crumbs


 


Of course, we also worked on improving our dough handling skills. I felt pretty good about my improvements in consistent baguette shaping. My scoring was, overall, improved. My best scoring was, in Miyuki's words, "almost good."  But I think I know what I need to do to improve my scoring.


 



My baguettes (left to right: Improved mix, High-gluten flour and Autolyse). My baguettes today had more even thickness and length. Scoring still needs work.


 



My best-looking baguette of the day.


 



Intermediate mix baguette crumb


 


Tomorrow, we make 5 kinds of bread, none of which is baguettes!  


 





 

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SFBI Artisan I day 2


 


Today's emphasis was on the differences between Short, Intermediate and Intensive mixing. Each of us baked 5 baguettes with each type of mix. The formulas for each batch was slightly different - the shorter the mix, the longer the fermentation, the greater the number of folds, the higher the hydration and the less yeast.


 



Our lab, aerial view


 



Today's project


 



Stretching and folding the Improved Mix dough (Miyuki demonstrated, then each of us did it on our own batch.)


 



Our breads, cooling


 



Assessing the breads


 



Comparing crumbs (from left to right, short, improved and intensive mix)


 


Of course, the practice handling the dough with personal critique from Miyuki continued. I was amazed that, with 16 students, she clearly remembered what she had told each of us yesterday and compared today's production to yesterday's in incredible detail. (I chatted with one of the SFBI interns at a break. He clearly worships Miyuki as a very highly skilled baker and teacher. It's like she knows everything and does everything better than anyone - not just breads, but also pastries, cakes, venoiserie … everything. I can see it.)


 



Assessing each student's baguettes


 



My baguettes


 



Miyuki cutting one of my baguettes


 


After all the breads were baked, we assessed each one that Miyuki had made. Then, she evaluated the breads each of the students had made. I need to work on shaping and scoring consistency. She really liked the crumb of my Improved Mix baguette. Her comment after looking at it was, "You have really good dough handling." Ooooooh. That felt good!


 



My intermediate mix baguette crumb


 


David




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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


 



Our instructor


 



Loader and deck oven


 



Some of my classmates


 



My first full-sized baguettes, waiting for judgement


 


David




 

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