SFBIArtisan 1, Day 1
One year ago David Snyder began his Day 1 blog entry with "Wow! There is no possible way to descirbe today in full..." and I agree! Reading David's blogs and looking at David's photos of his own breads convinced me that I would benefit from this class...so.. one year later I am taking my turn at the SFBI experience. David wrote a great summary last year and I will refer you to his blog for what is almost certainly a more thorough coverage of the class than I will provide. But I will stive to explore what I find most insightful and different from David.
Our day began with the students gathering to meet each other and enjoy a light breakfast of poppy seed scones, dried fig and almond scones, and an apple tart with coffee. The breakfast clearly demonstrated that the staff and students are talented bakers!
Our instructor for this class is Mac McClelland. Mac brings an interesting background to baking - having worked as a mechanical engineer for Caterpillar before his love of baking led him to take classes and then the full SFBI curriculum and become a baker. As in David's class Michel Suas warmly welcomed us to the school. As in David's class about half of the day was spent in lecture format and about half in the lab with Mac demonstrating and us copying him in dividing and shaping dough and loaves.
For me the "commercial" equipment was an interesting experience. Fifty pound spiral mixers, automatic loaders and five deck ovens were unknown territory and thus exciting. The real highlight though was handling dough at the "short mix" stage (five minutes at speed 1 on the two speed spiral) and "improved mix" stage (an additional five minutes at speed 2). A window pane of the short mix dough was ragged with thin and thick spots. And the dougth was still somewhat sticky. The improved mix gave a window pane that was about half thin and half thicker and was quite a bit tougher and less vulnerable to tearing. The improved mix dough was also less sticky - with the water more incorporated into the flour. It was these hands on, tactile experiences that were my motivation for coming to SFBI.
There were no surprises for me in the fermenting/proofing/shaping/scoring discussions. The techniques taught are quite familiar. I did, somehow, manage to bring more technique to my baguettes than I routinely achieve and the results were, to me quite pleasing. Photos of my baguettes are below. I feel obligated to point out that I shaped all the loaves but the rear one was inadvertently slashed by one of my classmates!
Like David, I found it wonderful to be able to make full length baguettes!
Tomorrow we will make 15 baguettes from three doughs - short mix, improved mix, and intense mix.
This will be a good week!