SFBI Sourdough at Home
A couple months ago I took a Viennoserie class at the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI). The students were mostly home baking hobbyists like me, but there were a few professionals too. Most of the 40 hours were spent hands-on in the pastry kitchen. The high quality of instruction combined with the excellent equipment and facilities were totally worth the tuition. The curriculum was designed with a professional production environment in mind so each batch of dough was in the 5-6 kg range and were mixed in large stand mixers. All the lamination was done using a dough sheeter. It was a bit exhausting handling such large pieces of dough and carrying fully loaded sheet trays around the kitchen, but I got used to the physical nature of the work fairly quickly. I learned so much in that one week and had so much fun doing it.
The SFBI also offers a few classes that are only 2 days long with a focus on baking at home. The quantities of dough are smaller and the mixing is done by hand. Although the baking is still done in their professional ovens, they demonstrate how to bake the items in a home oven too.
Last weekend I took the "sourdough at home" class. The students were mostly home bakers. Thanks to TFL and "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman, I already knew a lot of the information covered during class, but it's always good to hear it repeated again. It's the only way I'll remember. :) The most important thing I learned was how to shape free formed loaves. Having the instructor correct my hand motions while shaping was the best part. I've watched a lot of shaping videos, but nothing beats the hands-on instruction I received in class.
We made 6 different formulas in class. Each student came home with thirty 500g loaves and a little bit of SFBI liquid starter.
1. Sourdough with liquid levain
2. Sourdough with stiff levain
3. Multigrain (flax, sunflower and sesame seed soaker)
4. Sour rye