The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Teaching how to make bread

Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

Teaching how to make bread

My daughter's friend wants me to show her how to make bread. She has already made bread before, but really likes the loaves I've made. I've told her that it is the Tartine Bread recipe for baguettes and she can get it from the library, but she doesn't think she can learn it from a book.

(I disagree. My belief is that you can learn anything from a well-written book—except talent—and with InterLibrary Loan, the best books in the world are available. Still, I know that a hands-on workshop is more fun than learning solely from a book.)

Problem is, the Tartine recipe takes about 16 hours start to finish, and I haven't figured out a lesson that doesn't keep her waiting around for hours. I can't tell her to go home for the nearly four hours of bulk fermentation, because the dough needs to be stretched and folded every 40 minutes.

My daughter suggested that I make several batches, each starting at a different time, to compress the lesson. It would start with Shannon mixing the preferment, then I'd say "Let it rise at room temperature overnight, after which it will look like this," at which point I would display an 8-hour-old leaven and say "ta-da!"

Is this how baking schools run a breadmaking class? With all the ta-da steps, it would mean a lot of dough and tight scheduling. Or do the teachers follow the actual schedule and fill the time with "pull out your textbooks, we're going to learn about such-and-such while we wait for the dough to rise"?


golgi70's picture

That's how the cooking TV shows worked.  A colleague of mine got a chance to work on a cooking show and told me they had everything in all it's stages (with extra just in case) so the show could be aired in a reasonable amount of time.

 In school we would have more than one thing we were learning so when we worked on bread for example since it had down time and would work over the course of a few days for some formulas we would have a straight dough during the same class along with practice at croissants or something like that.  So we made our levain at the end of class one night and start with that dough the following class.  The gaps being filled by other projects that fit in nicely.  

Maybe your friend would be interested in learning more than just one type and you can set up a weekend of baking.  And you can simply explain that you mixed the components for the levain the night before and let it rise for said time to avoid the extra day for one simple step.  Then maybe have a straight dough which could take up the time during bulk allowing her to see and even do the stretch and folds.  Maybe you are good with some quick breads or sweet treats or even show how to use some of the sour discard for pancakes or waffles.  Of course this costs more and takes more of your time but I'm sure at the least your friend could purchase all needed ingredients if this is a favor that won't be paid for.  

You could do the TV show style but with only two hands that seems like you'd have yourself running around a bit but if you set up a schedule I'm sure it could be done with ease as well.  Then you could send her off with some to finish at home.  


ElPanadero's picture

You can do any basic sourdough style recipe in a day on a course. You don't need to replicate a recipe that takes days to achieve. Your aim on a course is to teach the techniques, not to produce a specific loaf. When you learn to drive you are not being taught how to drive a specific car, you are being taught the techniques that allow you to drive any car of that type (i.e. manual or automatic).

If there are particular recipes your students want to be able to do, then simply teach the techniques involved using a more basic recipe that incorporates those techniques. For example you can teach stretch and fold techniques by making a high hydration loaf or baguettes, you can teach shaping baguettes and so on.

Arm them with the tools to do various things, then they should be able to go home and apply those techniques to a plethora of recipes. You don't need to be making a specific Tartine recipe and, if you're teaching in a commercial sense, I would think there would be copywrite issues if you did.


Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

I want to use that particular recipe, as that is the bread that Shannon liked. In fact, I have to use it, as it is the only bread that I can make well. 

The last time I tried a different recipe, the crumb was rubbery and the crust was almost too tough to chew. I pictured a cartoon drawing of the loaf with a pair of dentures embedded in it. 


ElPanadero's picture

My daughter's friend wants me to show her how to make bread

it is the only bread that I can make well

The techniques in bread making should be useable in many different loaves. It seems strange that there is only one loaf you can make well esp if that's a Tartine loaf as they are far from being the easiest loaves to make. I would experiment with more basic sourdoughs until you are happy that you have the basic processes down to a T, i.e. gluten development, stretch and folding, bulk fermenting, shaping, proofing, knowing when the dough is ready to bake and so on. Try different hydration levels, start at 60% and work your way up to 75% and so on. Failing all this, book yourself and your daughter and her friend on a 1-day wild yeast bread making course. It will be great fun and you will certainly come out having successfully made 3-4 different breads.



PetraR's picture

Here is a good recipe that is done in a few hours.

* I am making it right now *

You Daughter could be with you and her friend and you have a Girly baking day with some coffee and cake during the waiting:)

With this recipe she knows what kneading is, S&F , Bulk fermentation, shaping... 

I think a hands on lesson in baking with actually seeing what has to be done, touching/ feeling the dough... no book can give you that.


Antilope's picture

in viewing and learning techniques

Tartine Bread Sourdough Starter Feeding

Tartine Bread Basic Country Loaf (start to finish), Round 1

The Tartine Country Loaf (Director's Cut)

dabrownman's picture

1:2:3  sourdough in 8 hours if you have the levain ready to go.  In between the time you can have cookies, cake, pie, ice cream and chocolate so that when the bread is done she will be too full to eat it which is part of the plan since its's always better the next day anyway:-)

barryvabeach's picture

Janet,  I have had a friend over to learn to make pizza dough, and we agreed she would arrive at a specific time, because I had made several batches at different times of the day, so we could work together on each step. We started with mixing, then stretch and folds, then forming and actually making the pizza. ( BTW, think about what you will do with the batches that you leave behind as you skip ahead, ideally, you will have the ability to put them in the refrig at certain stages, and then either use them later in the day, or even better send them home with the student to bake on their own.  ) I have also watched some of the Julia Child reruns on baking, and that is the way they do it.  First, the instructor mixes up the ingredients, and then says  " and we leave this to sit on the counter for 2 hours to let it double in size", then she turns behind her and grabs another bowl, and says, " I made this 2 hours ago" and goes to the next step.  While I find I can pick up a lot from books, there are parts that are much easier to pick up in person - such as how sticky is correct for a particular recipe.   Finally, I would suggest you focus on just one recipe ( even though you make it in steps).  I went to a local bread class recently where we made 4 different types of bread -  and it was very confusing - mix ingredients for bread A then autolyse, then get together the ingredients for bread B, then go back to Bread A and start kneading, then get the ingredients for bread C.  In my opinion, it would be much easier to follow if you just focus on one recipe, and follow it all the way through.   Before you go to that work, confirm that the 16 hour schedule will be something that your daughter's friend will want to do.  If not, you might want to use a diff recipe that works with her schedule.  I have a few other friends that want to come over for baking lessons, and while I would love to show them one of my favorite recipes, I don't think the timing will work for them, so I am putting off a class until I can be sure that whatever recipe I choose is something they can fit into their lifestyle.