The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Teaching Others

ClaireC's picture

Teaching Others

As I give loaves away to friends and neighbours, I'm beginning to pick up a lot of comments about "You're so clever to be able to make these", or "Yeast baking is just SO difficult" or "I'd LOVE to be able to make bread, but it always goes wrong".

I do try to tell people that actually, the basics are really, really easy, but I think they just assume I'm being modest.  I'd love to invite people round to bake bread with me, so I could help them get started, and show them what a simple, lovely pleasure it can be, but I don't really know how to make it work.  Has anyone tried this?  How did it go?

There's so much "down time" in making bread - where all there is to do is sit around and wait for a couple of hours - how do you make it work?   What do you do with that time?  All my very favourite recipes take more than one day to make, which is even more tricky.  (I received The Bread Bakers Apprentice for Christmas, and am still absolutely blown away by the massive improvement in my bread since then)

Any comments or thoughts or suggestions very welcome indeed!  I'd love to do this, but I want to do it really well!

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

If a friend/neighbor/relative seems interested, the first thing I'd do is find out what experience they have so far, and especially what equipment they have available. Some people may be really interested, but unable to equip their kitchen. Remember, anyone seeing your results would be shooting for that level, and probably not be too thrilled with beginner doughs.

My best suggestion for you, especially if you live in or near a populated area, is to find baking classes in your area and apply/offer to teach or be a teacher's aid. You get the good feeling of helping others, and at the same time, the students there really want to learn and absorb wisdom from those who know how to do it! It's a win-win there...

Downtime... hmm... well, I've learned the fine art of overnight downtimes, so I'm sleeping during bulk fermentation or cold retardation. I'm a stay-at-home dad of a 3 yr old and a 4 mo old, so there's no such thing as downtime around here during daylight hours! hehe ; ) Sorry can't be more helpful there!

- Keith

ein's picture


Hi ClaireC,

Sharing your Baking talent and 'demystifying' it for friends sounds like a wonderfull thing. Baker Ned Atwater does many steps before hand in his 'Country Wheat' Video in the Fresh Loaf Video's ... his whole bulk fermentation is completed before hand and waiting to show ... a good example of how to compress the time of a long process into a manageable presentation. This will take a bit of planning. Hope it helps!





ericb's picture

When I tried to teach my mom how to bake bread, I arrived at her house with a fully-fermented bowl of dough. We divided the dough and shaped the loaves together, set a timer for proofing, and put the dough aside for an hour or two.

Once the proofing loaves were safely set aside, we started from the very beginning of the process. I showed her how to measure the ingredients and mix the dough from scratch. By the time we finished kneading, we didn't have too much time to wait before the proofed loaves were ready for the oven.

After we baked, I left her with the bowl of fermenting dough that we had mixed together, just like the one I brought to her house. Since we had already done the dividing and shaping together, she was able to do this on her own after I left.

If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have given her a book like Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and worked through it with her. I still would have shown up with dough that was ready to be shaped and proofed, but I think the method in that book would have been a little less intimidating.



ladychef41's picture

What an excellent plan to take a fully fermented bowl with you to begin! I never would have thought to do that, but it makes TOTAL sense. I will have to remember that!

Another thought for those wanting to "kill some time" during the "wait" periods is to make some no knead bread, cookies, etc. If someone wants to learn to make bread, they would most likely enjoy learning to bake other, simpler items too! Just a thought.




ClaireC's picture

That's ingenious.  I love the idea of turning the process back to front - and the bonus of being able to leave someone with a bowl of "half done" dough for them to finish off without you.  Excellent - thanks, Eric.

I've read a bit about Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day - and it sounds really interesting, but I wouldn't feel that confident teaching something I hadn't actually used regularly myself.   (But I might have to buy myself a copy - just to check!) 

JoeV's picture

I have done a lot of training during my professional career, so when the time came to want to share my bread baking skills, I contacted my Pastor at church. I proposed to him that I would teach a group enthusiasts to bake bread in our Social Hall (We have a full commercial kitchen). It would be 3-4 hours and they would get recipes for everything I made, as well as getting to eat the bread. In return for the use of the hall, I would charge each student $25, with the checks being made out to our food pantry that feeds the poor in our area. He agreed and we put signup info in the bulletin for 3 weeks. My first class (just before Easter) had 19 students, and with matching funds from an anonymus donor, we raised $850 dollars for the food pantry. I did it again just before Christmas, and we raised just over $1,000 dollars.

I spent time planning the class by creating a spredsheet timeline of the entire process, then working backwards so that as each step was complete, I had the finished product ready for the next step. I ended up arriving at the hall about 2 hours ahead of the students to get my prep done, and 3-1/2 hours later we had 3 different breads completed, as well as a batch of cake cookies I made at the beginning of the class so they had fresh snacks with their beverages.

A good friend assisted me by keeping things moving in the kitchen, and creating my prep trays for the next step and feeding the oven and managing the timers. She worked as hard as I did, and at the end of the session we were exhausted (good exhaustion).We did a total of 7 loaves of bread and 4 dozen cookies, and everyone had a belly full of bread with butter and jams.

I will say that you better know what you are doing and talking about, because the questions come fast and furious. The last thing you want to do is to embarass yourself. I spent months studying techniques and learning about Baker's percentages, various types of yeast, baking pans & sheets and on and on and on. I also had all of my recipes printed for the students, using weight and volume measurements for each recipe (I bake by weight, not volume)

Yes, it can be done, but give yourself plenty of time to prepare, and have a friend assist to keep the prep and cleanup moving along.


Good Luck!


Enjoying samples and taking notes.

Me and my very capable baker's assistant, Carole, making bread in my kitchen at home.

Jw's picture

a real neat story. maybe you can do a 'teach-the-teacher' one-day?


ClaireC's picture

You're a step ahead of me on this one,  JoeV.

I'd like try teaching some bread-baking with a friend or two in my kitchen at home.....but longer term, our church hall is just being re-developed and will soon have a half-decent kitchen for the first time.  I've got all sorts of schemes for baking with bigger groups there - though I don't feel quite equipped or confident enough to do that yet.

Did everyone in your group actually get their hands on the ingredients and bake?  From the (excellent) photos, it looks more like you did the baking, while others watched.

Looks like a great event - I hope you do it again.

nbicomputers's picture

start with a simple dough and change the formula to use fresh yeast as fresh yeast will work much faster at colder temps.

30 minutes to mix then 30 to 40 minutes to bulk ferment then shape and another 30 minutes to proof and then it's bake time.

most simple breads and sweet dough can be made this way. white bread egg bread WW bread french as well as sweet buns crunb cinnamon fruit filled and coffie rings,


JoeV's picture

If you are calling cake yeast fresh yeast, that's the wrong approach for the newbie bread baker, IMO. Cake yeast has a very short shelf life, and if someone is not baking weekly, the yeast will die before they can use it, then the frustration sets in. I want a high success rate with my students, so I advocate using only Instant Yeast which can be kept in the freezer for at least a year, and is ready to use as soon as you open the package. I buy Instant yeast in 1# vacuum sealed packages for about $4 at my local restaurant supply, and keep a small jar in the fridge and the rest in an airtight container in my freezer. That package will make about 96 loaves of traditional bread, and I go through at least two of those each year. This is the most cost effective method of buying yeast, and yields virtually 100% success rate.It's available at Sam's Club, but you have to buy a 2-pack.

On the other hand, fresh yeast can also be another name for sourdough starter, which is another animal all together. I keep a couple of quarts of starter on hand at all times, and use it for breads as well as pancakes.

Please clarify which fresh yeast you are suggesting.



Dwayne's picture

A friend has ask me to teach him how to bake bread.  My plan was to start with the NY Times No Knead Bread Recipie.  Each week I would introduce a new bread which would be a variation off the original recipe.  I think that the confidence that comes with working with this recipe would work well.  Here is a rough plan:

 o Standard No Knead bread

o Cranberry No Kneed bread

o Pizza

o Biallies

o Peta/Naan




JoeV's picture

I agree that one of the quickest routes to bread baking success is with no-knead bread. I add a variety of things to the base recipe, but the one lmost of my friends like uses 2T of mixed Italian Herbs. I have a concoction in a mason jar that has the following, in no particular amounts other than what I dump into a small mixing bowl:

Dried parsley flakes, Onion flakes, chives, oregano, thyme, dried minced garlic, paprika and lemon pepper.

You can take that loaf and use it to compliment any number of Italian dishes in place of traditional garlic bread, and people will eat that loaf like it was their last meal. I have also cut it into thick pieces, sprayed it with EVOO from an oil mister, and placed it under the broiler just until the top starts to color up. Outstanding!

In short, I have probably created more bread disciples with no-knead than with the traditional method, mainly because it's virtually foolproof.

flournwater's picture

Just remember that teaching means the student spends more time with "hands in dough" than the instructor.  If you demonstate something, begin the process and show the student how to perform the task then get out of the way and guide them through the method you're demonstrating.

ClaireC's picture

Definitely.  I think my plan, as much as I have one, is to have a bowl full of dough each, as far as possible, so whatever I do with my batch, they then do themselves with their dough - then by the end, they've got a loaf that they've made entirely by themselve -  ideally that  I've barely even touched.

sboberg's picture

I started with a one day bread. It was an easy cinnamon bread - Kitchen Aid cookbook. I taught a mother daughter. It was fun. During the down time we sat and gabbed and shared tea. It was fun.

My church folks have asked me to teach them. I started by using story time at our church to teach about grains and the process of grinding. Next is to bring in some dough already in the stage to be worked with and while it bakes to teach them how to start the process themselves. If there is still interest I shall invite them to my home to do lengthier processes.

ClaireC's picture

There's some wonderful and very helpful thoughts and comments on here.   Many thanks to all of you.  (Though it's not too late to join in!)

I'd be interested if anyone has any additional thoughts on how to include kids in this!?

I also rather like the idea of everyone making two loaves, in a session, with the suggestion that one is for them to eat - and the other is to give away to a friend or neighbour.  It's a bit cheesy, I know, but I love the idea of it, all the same.


ladychef41's picture


From the time my boys were big enough to stand on a chair up to the"bread board", they were in the kitchen "helping" me bake. My favorite picture is of my older son (he's now 27 and a GREAT cook!!) standing on a kitchen chair (he was about 2 yrs old) at the counter with one of my aprons on, "kneading" dough! I LOVE it!!!! If you start kids early in the kitchen, many of them will take to it like ducks to water. My younger son never got the cooking bug, but he still spent a lot of time in the kitchen with me when he was little.

If you want to include them, let them help knead the dough. They can't hurt anything and they will get a real feel for what the dough should feel like. Or let them help pour in the flour, or make cookie dough! Making pasta dough is a lot of fun for kids too; they love to unroll the dough after it's cut fso it can dry. Let them help clean veges, or open pea pods... The only thing to remember is that whatever they "help" with, may not be perfect! But who cares!!! They are having fun and learning and will get to eat what they made!!! That's what it's all about... having fun and getting to taste what you've made!


Good luck and happy baking/cooking with kids!!



mredwood's picture

Folks on fresh loaf have such good ideas. I too would start one of two ways that have worked for me. One is the no knead bread. And keeping it wet but not a batter and doing stretch and folds with them makes it easier than the mucky towel that you are supposed to dump into the hot bowl while everything sticks and you can tell that is not my favorite part.


What I have done is invite them over for coffee or tea while we whip up a batch. Start by fluff & scoop and weigh and see how close you are to ideal. Let them do it. They can put it in the mixer, bowl or food processor. Mix it all up with them doing most of the work while you are doing other things. Point out the changes in the dough & how it feels. Put it to raise, or rest depending  on what it is. Often people can't spend that amt of time required so they can go shopping or run around & maybe come back later for the shaping and or baking. I have baked it up and she came back to pick up the finished loaf.

Next time mixing was all done and she came and we shaped and and let rise, scored and baked for that lesson. Another time at a friends house I mixed up in her food processor. How simple & easy. She baked, I have no clue how it actually came out but every one in the family loved it. Another time I bought over the proofing loaves with instructions. Another time I brought the dough for pizza. She is making & baking & has tons of confidence because it's so easy. Not everyone is into the baker's percentages & weighing ingredients. They just want a loaf to call their own and that gets the ball rolling. Almost had a pun there and typed almost had a bun there. 

You will figure out at what level your student is and take it from there.

Have fun.