The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Prep for SFBI?

run4bread's picture
run4bread

Prep for SFBI?

Hi,
I signed up for SFBI Artisan I to get a better feel for dough and handling, and because it gets good reviews here! And because baking for a week sounds like a fun vacation. Since a number of you have gone there, or someplace similar, I would like your advice. What is good prep for going (types of bread, techniques, reading or re-reading)? And is there anything I should do or ask once there? My interest is sourdough breads, not the viennoisserie, although that will be fun and tasty.

Thanks in advance.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I was at SFBI for Artisan I in August with Mac McConnell. It was a great week!

I too am mainly a sourdough baker. The week is all yeasted and mostly baguettes. The only vinoisserie is what you will eat at breakfast, break, lunch, and take home at the end of the day from the other class and the baking operations.

The week is pretty self-contained and you almost certainly know most of the basic facts. IMO what you mainly learn is about the subtleties that reading and photos just can't communicate. While the week is about commercial yeast, the techniques and touch are universal and my bread improved dramatically - and especially my baguettes which used to be rather ragged and are now closer to rustic. (When I came home the change in flour, water, mixing, etc. led to my struggling to make baguettes on a par with what I made at SFBI. Howver, my sourdough is better than ever for the touch and forming techniques and sensitivity to nuances of dough transferred very well.)

I don't really think any reading that will really help you prep. You will be making about 60 or 70 baguettes during the week plus some boules, and epis and ...using a variety of mixing approaches and preferments so...if anything you might review baguette making. The rest will come with the class.

Rather than reading, take naps when you have time! It is an intense week! Enjoy!

Look forward to your report(s)!

Jay

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have taken the Artisan I and Artisan II workshops at the SFBI. Artisan I is a great indroduction to both the science of bread - ingredients, fermentation, factors influencing flavor, crumb structure, and much more. The hands on learning is a splendid opportunity to acquire dough handling skills, both by observing the instructor and other students and through personal experience under expert supervision. The emphasis is on baguettes, but one day is devoted to making other breads. There is no sourdough baking. This is covered in depth in Artisan II.

For a preview, you can read about my day by day experience in Artisan I in my blog entries.

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 1 

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 2 

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 3

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 4

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 5

Jay also blogged on his experience in Artisan I. Search TFL on "SFBI Artisan I," and you will find links.

You are going to have a terrific time! Looking forward to your TFL reports on your experience.

Happy baking!

David

run4bread's picture
run4bread

Thank you so much for your comments and encouragement. I am more excited than ever, although also some trepidations. I have not made a baguette since last summer, so I will try to fit a couple types in this weekend.

I think I found Jay's blog about SFBI but missed yours, David, so thanks for the links. I can see I will want to take my camera.

I have put off getting a baker's jacket as it feels pretentious for me, a humble home baker. I was glad to see in the photos that not everyone wore one. I also saw sneakers. Any recommendations? i will do it for practical reasons.

What do people do with all the loaves if they don't have hungry brothers with neighbors? I was thinking of auctioning off the right to pick me up from the airport with my duffle bag of bread, but baguettes will not keep that well. i plan to stay over an extra day to explore some SF bakeries.

So have you done Artisan 3?

longhorn's picture
longhorn

David's blogs are the best! Outstanding journalism. I should have mentioned them but from your comments I assumed you had seen them!

The daily bread surplus can either be taken with you or left. Loaves that are left go to (as I recall) The Food Bank. I took about a dozen loaves a day back to my hotel. I typically kept one for dinner and gave the others to the staff. They were always appreciative.

Sneakers or other shoes you can stand in all day is a smart idea. Unless you work on your feet your back, legs and feet will get tired.

The one bakery not to miss in the area IMO is Tartine on Guerrero at about 43rd as I recall. Be sure to order a half loaf of the house bread. It is awesome. As you probably know, many blogs on it here. 

Have a ball!

Jay

Jo-Anne's picture
Jo-Anne

Hello,

I very  much appreciate your (and others) posting about Artisan I with SFBI. I am scheduled to take this course in July and eagerly read the postings. I wondered if you, or others, have recommendations as to low cost accommodations during the course? The cheapest hotels I could find are $140 per night. I will not have a car. (Flying to SF from San Diego.)

Suggestions will be greatly appreciated! And many thanks to all for references to SFBI that led me to register. (I've been baking breads, mostly sourdough, for about 9 months, and have found this site immensely helpful. This is my first posting.)

Jo-Anne

longhorn's picture
longhorn

the Staybridge Suites which seems to be where most, but certainly not all, students stay (in my case two of 16 students - we were the only ones in a motel). The good news for Staybridge is it has dinner most nights (pretty mediocre but...) and a complete kitchen with dishwasher, dishes, pots, pans, refrigerator and a grocery store is 200 yards away across the street so dinners can be really inexpensive if you want to cook or have sandwiches made from your bread. They offer a discount for SFBI students and run their shuttle to SFBI at the beginning and end of the day.

David has posts about where he stayed that are also very positive but I think is a bit more expensive.  Unfortunately it is not a low rent area!

Its exciting to have more FLers going to SFBI! As I alluded, I went for the dough experience and since baguettes are so demanding you get a serious intro to dough mixing/flours/shaping, etc. I have great confidence you will find it will significantly improve your sourdough when you get home!

Bake On!

Jay

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

We stayed at the Larkspur Landing, The SFBI neighborhood has many hotels. SFBI will be sending those registered for workshops a list. Most have a shuttle service that will take you from your hotel to the SFBI and pick you up at no charge.

The hotels in the Oyster Point area are not super cheap but are a fraction of the cost of most hotels in San Francisco.

Re. disposal of excess loaves: What Jay said.

David

run4bread's picture
run4bread

Some semi-random thoughts for now. I will try to assemble organized thoughts tomorrow.

The hotel row is a 25 minute brisk walk from the school. They are listed as less than a mile. I would guess at least 1.5 miles. A 20 minute walk in the other direction will take you to "South City", which has several restaurants, Peet's coffee and *$. And a Panaderia that is a small grocery store.

The first day was a split of theory and experience. Nice mix between sitting in chairs with a notebook and ppt slides, and making the first formula of baguettes. Delicious lunch.

We each made five baguettes, which provides experience in pre-shaping, final shaping and scoring. We each selected two for our instructor to review.

Our instructor is Mac McConnell.