The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking schools

plevee's picture

Baking schools

Some members have taken courses at schools specialising in  bread baking.

What were your breads like before the course?

What changes did the course make in your baking/

Do you think you would eventually be baking at your current level wth only trial & error  - and of course, fonts of wisdom like The Fresh loaf?



gaaarp's picture

Patsy, in my experience, taking a baking class gave me the bug. I did learn a lot of techniques, and it was helpful to see things like baking stones, steam trays, slap-and-fold kneading, etc. in action. I think I would have eventually ended up where I am by trial and error (I'm still learning that way). But I tend to learn with both sides of my brain, so it was good to read and hear about techniques and then immediately practice them under the instructor's watchful eye.

Long story short, I think you can become a great baker on your own (especially if, like most of us, you are baking for your own pleasure). But if you are able to find a baking class that fits your schedule and budget, I'd say go for it.

tadmitchell's picture

It's like anything else. You can figure it out on your own, but it's kind of nice to have someone lay out the big picture. You just feel more confident then.

I went to two courses at the American Institute of Baking (AIB) in Kansas and one course with Jeffery Hammelman at the French Pastry School in Chicago. The AIB is geared for instructing people for the big bakeries. They're a bit too prone to use chemicals for my liking, but it helped me get an excellent understanding of the science of baking. I did the online course before I went in person. I actually probably learned more from the online course that I did when I was there, but there's something about being there and experimenting. I remember one exercise where we made bread with too much sugar, not enough sugar, too much salt, not enough salt. Seeing the failed loaves sticks with you. Jeffery is the other extreme. He's very into natural techniques. He didn't talk too much about the science. It was almost like a Julia Childs class, not as much hands on and trial and error.

The things that I have learned through classes and reading that have made the biggest difference in my breads are:
- Autolyse
- Measure dough temperature
- Measure mixing time
- Measure internal bread temperature
- Proofing, volume is a better measure than time, if it's raising slowly just wait
- Bakers Math