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Baking eduction

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dmsnyder

 


 


The Artisan II Workshop at The San Francisco Baking Institute is all about sourdough bread. The first day of the SFBI Artisan II workshop is spent mostly in the classroom. The instructor reviewed the content of the Artisan I workshop and then introduced basic concepts of sourdough baking with emphasis on starter elaboration and maintenance. At the end of the first day, there is a quick review of baker's math.


In the bakery, we started elaborating a new sourdough culture with which we will be making bread on Friday. We also scaled the dry ingredients and mixed the levains for 4 different breads we will be making on Day 2


Our instructor for Artisan II is Frank Sally. My classmates are a different mix from that of the Artisan I workshop I attended in August. This group is almost entirely professional bakers who have come from Australia, New Zealand and New Jersey, among other exotic places.



Frank (in the center) and some of my classmates



A couple of my bench mates, both professional bakers from Australia (on the left) and New Zealand (on the right)



Mixing levains and scaling dry ingredients for mixing final doughs tomorrow



Our scaled ingredients awaiting tomorrows mixes


Much of the material presented today was familiar, but Frank touched on a few concepts which, while not completely new to me, I'd never thought much about.


He spoke of the “mass effect,” which occurs during bulk fermentation. He could not tell us the mechanism, but said that there is improved flavor development when the dough weighs more than 2 kg. Most of us home bakers generally work with batches of dough smaller than this most of the time. Evidently, we are missing out on some flavor enhancements by doing so.


Frank described the differing rates of growth of homofermentative and heterofermentative bacteria during sourdough elaboration. The former develop earlier. Moreover, it takes longer for the acetic characteristics to develop in the starter due to the greater volatility of acetic acid compared to lactic acid. This is a factor in the well-known improvement in flavor complexity as a new starter is fed over the first weeks. It takes about 3 weeks for a good stable balance of yeast and the various lactobacilli to develop


These differences also effect the balance of acetic versus lactic acid one can manipulate through differences in feeding schedules. More frequent feedings result favor lactic acid production. So a once a day feeding schedule yields a more tangy starter than a twice a day schedule.


The first set of breads we will be baking will provide comparisons between 1) once a day versus twice a day levain feedings, 2) liquid versus firm starters and 3) breads made with different proportions of starter (relative to the amount of dry flour in the final dough).


Stay tuned!


David


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

 


SFBI Artisan I, day 5


 


Today, we baked 3 batches of baguettes - with poolish, sponge and "pre-ferment" (like biga). The didactic portion covered baker's math for doughs with pre-ferments. We reviewed a lot of material on mixing and dough handling. As a "bonus lesson," Miyuki demonstrated special baguette scoring techniques.


 



Miyuki called this a "Dragon Tail."


 



Dragon Tail baguette


 



Bend the baguette into a curve and cut as for an epi, except fold all the pieces to the convex side of the baguette


 



These are all Miyuki's - ready to load


 



 



These are mine - baked


 



Loading baguettes 


 


I don't think I've mentioned that there were wonderful pastries available with coffee when we arrived, and we were served delicious lunches each afternoon. Lunch today was two kinds of pizza - margarita and 5 spices chicken, mango and scallion - really delicious. Today, we were also served wine - a very nice pinot grigio. The desserts were lemon macarons and "nouveau linzer," a layer of flourless chocolate cake spread with raspberry jam under chocolate mousse. Ooooooh my!


 



 



 


At the end of the day, Michel Suas met with the class, which is a long story for another time. We tasted the different baguettes we made and also some hand-mixed baguettes Miyuki made and baked in a home-type oven. We took some photos and went home with a couple half-pints of ice cream the interns had made. I got strawberry and cassis.


 



Michel Suas


 



Class photo (3 students had to catch planes prior to this, unfortunately.)


 


I would certainly recommend this course to any serious home baker or any professional baker. For the home bakers: It really helps if you have studied modern bread making concepts beforehand. The workshop covers a lot of material, and it moves fast. You do not want this to be your very first exposure to baker's math or scaling ingredients or using pre-ferments, just to give a few examples. 


On the other hand, the class was about half professionals, some with many years experience as bread bakers in restaurant or bakery environments. There was no one who didn't learn a lot. I think I heard every one of them talking excitedly at one or more points about concepts and procedures they were eager to apply in their own workplaces.


Now, to go home and try to apply everything I've learned. 


 


David




 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

We had a leisurely drive up to South San Francisco today for the SFBI Artisan I workshop which starts tomorrow and lasts 5 days. We're staying at one of the hotels nearby - 1.5 miles from SFBI itself.


We drove over to see where it is. SFBI is on a hill with a beautiful view of the hills West of the Bayshore Freeway (US Hwy 101). It's in the heart of the Bay Area biotech enclave. In fact, SFBI and TMB are essentially an island in the Genentech campus, which is huge. Immediately to the East is SF Bay. There's a wonderful walking path that goes for several miles along the bay here.


We drove into San Francisco for dinner at Out the Door, a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant in the food court adjacent to Bloomingdales. (Not your usual shopping mall food court, believe me!). We had had reservations at Fringale, a favorite French-Basque restaurant, but I got a phone call from them just before we were going to change clothes for dinner. Fringale had "an emergency" and was closed for the evening. I was thinking the chef had dropped dead or something, but it turned out the exhaust fan in their kitchen went out. Hopefully, it will get replaced tomorrow and we can get another reservation during the week. (They make a delicious duck confit served on a lentil ragout. I need some.)


So, I'll attend the first session of Artisan I starting at 0830 tomorrow. I've my brand new chef's jacket and beanie (Yes. Really.) in my back pack, along with the suggested note pad, marking pen and calculator. And two cameras.


I don't know who the instructors will be yet. I have expectations regarding the curriculum, but I'm prepared to be surprised and expect to have a blast.


David

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