The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advice on teaching a bread baking class?

JMonkey's picture

Advice on teaching a bread baking class?

For my child's school auction -- the big fundraiser -- I offered up a 4-hour bread lesson as an item. It was sold and, this weekend, I'll deliver the class.

I know some folks here have taught baking classes before. I'd be much obliged if those of you who have would share advice, tips, etc.


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Since this was a class you auctioned off, you might contact the person who won what they want to learn and find out how experienced they are. Are they interested in an intrroductory class ("I can't even make bread in a bread machine! Can you help me make bread?"), or are they more advanced?


A 4 hour class is a bit short for a hands on class, so you'll need to use TV time. I do a quick bagel class. As I mention in my bagel recipe, letting the dough sit overnight is crucial for flavor development. Hard to do that in a 4 hour class. So, I do one batch of bagels the night before. We start class by boiling, seeding and baking the bagels. Then we mix dough, and let it rise. While it's rising, we have a bagel party, enjoying the bagels that we just baked. After the bagel dough has risen, we form the bagels and the students take the bagels home with them to age overnight and boil and bake in the morning.


You could do pretty much the same with any doughs you want, adjusting the timing as needed.


Preparation is a major element. If you're teaching in their kitchen, check it out before class to make sure that they have the things you assume ANY kitchen would have. I've been surprised a time or two.


Preparing handouts helps, and have blank pages in the handouts so the students can take notes.

Hope that helps,



leemid's picture

I prep the starter and dough the night before. The when the student gets there I go through starter feeds and dough prep as though I hadn't already done it, then like the chefs on TV I fetch the ready starter and dough out of the magic cupboard and scale and shape. If you need to show them every step you could have loaves risen at just the right time to bake too. Then you give the baked bread to the student along with the prepped starter. You can be really generous and give them the shaped loaves so they can bake it when it's risen or keep it for yourself. Sometimes if the student lives close by I just have them watch part of the work and come back when the loaves are ready to bake. Of course all of this becomes easier if you are making yeasted bread instead of sourdough.

That's what I do,


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

One thing I didn't stress is that I prefer my classes to be hands on.  If you have a "watch the master work" class, it tends to not transfer into student confidence as well as a hands on class.


At the end of a hands on class, the student knows they CAN do it, because they did it.




JMonkey's picture

Thanks. Very helpful. I'll let folks know how the class goes.

mcs's picture

Don't know if your weekend class has already taken place, but if not, here's what has worked for me.
First off, I completely agree with the postings above as far as the importance of prep and hands on work also. That said, I would try to work backwards with your 4 hour block of time. For instance, lets say it runs from 12-4. I would try something like this just to get an outline.
4:00 end
3:45 cut into a loaf to show them what it looks like, more '+ and -'
3:30 baked goods out of the oven pointing out '+ and -' of your work
2:45 baked goods into the oven
1:30 shaping
12:30 folding

Anyway, you get the picture. Add enough cushion time so people get to sample finished products, and have enough so people have something to take home. Of course you'll need the 'magic of television' method to make it work. A simple outline helps, and encourage them to watch and work rather than write too many notes. Maybe they can go home with something they've shaped in a foil loaf pan and bake it after it proofs.


JMonkey's picture

Thanks, everyone, for all the feedback. We baked three things: Reinhart's basic whole wheat sandwich bread (with buttermilk) from Whole Grains Baking, whole wheat sourdough English Muffins and my overnight lead whole grain sourdough.

I did a lot of prep beforehand. The only dough we started from scratch was the overnight sourdough, so someone's baking that this morning, I anticipate.

The handout idea was great, and everyone got a chance to knead, fold, shape, slash and bake.

Next time, I think I might start with a pizza. There was some dead time after things went into the oven. That was actually a good thing, as this was part of a small baby shower, so it gave them time to open gifts. Nevertheless, I think that pizza is something everyone can work on easily, and while the pizza is being eaten, other breads can bake.

All in all, though, it was a really fun time. Thanks again for everyone's help!