The Fresh Loaf

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need some help before doing my first bread workshop!

mabaker's picture

need some help before doing my first bread workshop!



Iv'e graduated from a culinary school and started to do some workshops.

My next one is breads. At home I'm using parchment papaer- to put the shaped and pre-shaped doughs

After that I transfer them to a sheet pan that has been already heated in the oven (otherwise the bottom will burn).

I had success moving the parchment with breads to the oven, and using the sheet pans.

I don't use cloth nor special baskets....but I want this workshop to look more professional.

What would you advise me to get?

Pizza peel? stone? (very expenssive), canvas? (I believe it's more usefull for loafs), bannentons?


I never used those at home, I don't know how easy it to transfer the bread from the peel to the u proof the shaped

bread on the peel?? if not- how do you transfer it?


Thanks so much!

pmccool's picture

You may wish to do some hands-on bread baking in your home to figure out what works and why, before trying to teach others.

Burnt bottoms have less to do with preheating the pan than with the rack position in the oven and/or the thickness of the sheet pan.  Most home bakers don't bother to preheat their sheet pans.  BTW, a flat baking sheet, aka cookie sheet, makes a good stand-in for a peel.

A stone is not a prerequisite for hearth-style breads.  Many bakeries use sheet pans lined with parchment and get good results.  I like to use one, but it isn't a necessity.

Bannetons and brotforms are lovely, but you can improvise with towel-lined bowls or colanders.  Not a bad point to make with students, either, that they don't need to make large cash outlays before making bread.  What you use will be dictated by the kind of loaf you want.  Do you want a boule?  A round banneton or brotform will be useful.  Do you want something more oblong?  Some brotforms are shaped like that.  Do you want a ficelle or baguette or batard shape?  Then a couche will be useful.  The couche could be linen or canvas or duck, or you could improvise one from parchment.  Do you want a sandwich loaf?  Then all you need is a bread pan.

If you are using a banneton or a brotform or a couche, no, there is no need to proof on the peel.  You just move the risen dough from its form onto the peel and then from the peel into the oven (assuming that you want to use a stone).  If you aren't using a stone, move them from the forms on a parchment lined baking sheet and put that into the oven.  

I would strongly urge you to do some practicing before you conduct a workshop.  As an instructor, you need to already be conversant with the processes, the techniques, and the equipment.  Otherwise, you will cheat your students by imparting bad information to them, or you will experience the embarassment of being corrected by a student who already knows enough to recognize that you don't know enough.

Wishing you success in your preparations and in your workshop.


mabaker's picture

It's not my first time- Iv'e been baking breads regulary more then a year- I just did it in school daily and then at home. I also have experience with teaching- though not breads.

I always get great results at home since Iv'e been practicing a lot.


I just needed some recommendations for equipment. We are going to do the batard shape or round loafs (farmer's bread).


Thanks a lot for your answer!

mabaker's picture

This is what I heard from my teacher who's a master chef and a graduate of "tour de France". When he saw the dark side of the loaf he said -it's because I'm putting cold sheets  (with the bread on them) and it create a shock ..since Iv'e started pre-heating the pans the breads don't have a dark bottoms and the location in the oven is the same....

flournwater's picture

If your goal is to make professional or semi-professional bakers out of those who attend your class, it's probably best to use professional tools.  But if you're simply demonstrating the bread making process to home-makers who want to create a good loaf of bread, all of the special gear isn't necessary.  For the final proof, placing the dough on parchment which is covering a peel or the back of a baking sheet and then using either the back of aheet pan or a peel to slide the dough into the oven (leaving the dough on the parchment while baking) is an acceptable practice, easy to teach/learn and eliminates some of the "fear" that some might have about loading the oven with the dough.

Don't worry about impressing your students.  If they can take the skills they learn in your class home with them to make a good loaf of bread you've won.

Keep it simple ....

mabaker's picture

I always think from the professional side...when it's clear that "regular" people aka, not professional chefs are impressed pretty easily!



occidental's picture

I guess I tend to be more on the practical side.  If I was just learning how to bake I'd prefer someone taught me how to do something simply and consistently that I could take home and use, so I wouldn't shy away from parchment.  I a home baker sees that there is a bunch of fancy equipment that is needed they may never get into it.  Along those lines, for baskets I bought several different sized baskets at the dollar store and lined them with inexpensive dish towels and they work great and they don't look bad either, so that may be an idea for you.  As far as preheating, I just baked 3 different batches of bread using 'no - preheat' (starting with the loaves in a cold oven)  with great results - the crust cooked evenly top and bttom - so I wouldn't say preheating is an absolute necessity.  Anyhow, good luck with your workshop - you can't go wrong with fresh bread!

mabaker's picture

Thank you for your point of view. It is a homy workshop that suppose to help ppl to play with dough and prepare a bread for the first time.


It's not a high hydration bread so no need for baskets. I might get the peel and the stone maybe.



Broc's picture

I suppose it's ballsy of me to presume to advise or coach anyone, but please let me share some thoughts/strategies I've been developing over the past two years.

When bread-baking wanna-bees come to a home-baking workshop, they [I] want tips I can go home and use right away.  I'm thinking -- "What can I do tomorrow to make my bread better?"

If I have to spend beaucoup $$$ first, and buy this-n-that-n-the-other-thang, I'll just be frustrated.  You see, most people don't have the money to spend to upgrade quickly to the level of some of the workshops I've attended.

When I do a workshop for others, I always make sure there are two full-sized ovens at the ready... and plenty of counter space.  In advance, I concentrate on preparing hand-out instructions for participants, three-ring punch them [the instructions -- not the participants -- :) ], and tell the participants in advance to bring a three-hole binder.  This way, they get step-by-step sequences for three different breads baked at the workshop... which they can to refer to back home.

If I'm stashing dough in the fridge for two days before baking off, each participant will create the dough [following instruction] and will then take their dough[s] home to refrigerate.  I'll have dough ready from two days earlier that we'll also work with in the workshop, which we'll bake off that day.  And, yes!  I use the cheapest bread flour I can find.  I emphasize that it's el-cheap-o, and encourage them to find better stuff for their own pantries.

So, each participant builds three doughs to take home to bake off later.  And we bake each of those three doughs, with three different techniques during the workshop.  Yes -- I have to be Johnny-on-the-Spot, with all materials and pre-created doughs... at different stages of proofing... just as the workshop begins.

I expect inexperienced home-bakers to come to the workship with little home equipment... I do use a KA mixer [600] and bring that to the workshop.  I have information printed out where home bakers can find Bosch, KA and other mixers.

I introduce parchment paper... I'm surprised by how many don't know what the stuff is!

And, I use a Sassafras cloche for some of the in-workshop baking... and of course, provide information about where to purchase.

I have also done out-door bread baking workshops using ceramic cookers... mine is the Big Green Egg.  For ceramic demonstrations, we focus not only on dough preparation, but also on preparing the lump, controlling temps precisely... and baking is done on parchment-on-heavy-duty-pizza stone.  I also bake over charcoal with dutch ovens.

I suppose my best advice for you is to think -- What can an entry-level home baker do?  How can I improve on this person's experience... right now!  What three "new" things do I want to emphasize?

New stuff to emphasize [repetition, here!]:  [1] As far as specific instructions, [not as a stand-alone lecture] I de-mystify autolyze, gluten development, stretch-and-fold, etc., and also clarify bakers percentages, so they can at least understand talk about hydration. 

I also pretty much stick with Peter Reinhart's techniques and direct participants to his books.  The recipies I personally use are based upon his... not quite the same... but the techniques are totally his!

[2] Where to find help... I give written instructions to our area kitchen/restaurant supply store, and internet addresses [emphasizing TFL], PR's books, yada-yada. 

[3]  Three different breads -- As I mentioned earlier, participants will create doughs for three different breads, which they'll take home to bake later.  From the doughs I prepared two days earlier, they will bake off these breads, from creating the loaves, getting them into the oven, controlling temps, etc.  They will leave a three-hour workshop absolutely knowing how to bake some "grand-slam-home-run" breads.  No more bricks or mush!

Oh -- One little thing that makes a big difference.  Particpants get to use a digital thermometer [cheap one] to take the breads' temp.  They learn the magical 190F to 195F target zone, and go home knowing they will no longer be under or over baking their breads.

And, I suppose it goes without saying -- We teach what we know best. 

Gunness!  But I'd love to be a mouse in some of the home kitchens of so many on this site!  I know a bit about some aspects of simple, home bread baking.  But I have so much to learn!

~ Best!

~ Broc






mabaker's picture

Thank you so much for all your tips! every advise is helpful!

I do plan the make the doughs in advance and the pre-fermented doughs

So they will have some prepared dough to shape but also make it by themselves.

How long are your workshops? I will have bread as one of my components.

We are planning to do tarts as well and another pastry so it's not only breads.


I thought about bringing the doug ready to pre-shape, then shaping it with them and let it rise. Then I will let them make the dough by themselves with giving them the pre-fermented dough to add to it. In the end- they will take the dough home and bake it or freeze it!

How does it sound?


I will use bannetons because couche is more for bauguettes. I will also show them the dough can rise on a parchment paper...

I will teach them different scorings for different shapes and about steam at home and bake it....

The people I'm teaching never done it before so they will get some great creations in the end.

My eqipment: KA, thermometer, bannentons, peel and stone or tile (I don't have them now).


Thanks again so much and if you have some more wise remarks please share!!





Broc's picture

Looking over my verbose post, it must look like I'm a know-it-all.  I'm not... merely a delighted enthusiast... a pure amateur home baker.  With your background, I could learn from you for a very long time!

My workshops are very informal -- and, no -- I don't get paid.  I am, however, a retired HS and college teacher [No, not culinary arts... not even close!]... and so I tend to overthink how to approach learning.

Those who have attended my [count 'em!] three workshops to date are all housewives [indoors] and nearly all men-grilling-experts [outdoor, ceramic cooking and baking].  I really don't know how many outdoor cooks I've been to, where a bunch of people cook and all instruct each other.  This is hyper-speed learning... Wonderful experiences and exciting attitudes, as we're all instructors, and all students -- simulaneously!  And, the food is great, too!

When participants to an introductory indoor workshop arrive, I'm ready to put a loaf or two into the oven... then if dough is ready, we shape and proof... then we make dough... strech-and-fold... somewhere along the way, loaves are rotated... temps taken, yada-yada...

So, the experience isn't "sequential" for them... It keeps them busy, and I chat/mentor while we work but the take-home handouts are arranged sequentially.  By the time the session winds down, they have mixed [to take home], baked [pre-prepped] and tasted three breads.

  • french -- 450F cloche
  • rustic, country -- 450 cloche
  • Challa, baked on a cold cookie sheet.

All of my recipes are based upon Peter Reinhart, slightly adjusted -- but I have them all scaled for six pounds of dough = 3@ 2-lb loaves.

I suppose we're going to do what we know and what works best for us.

BTW -- When doing many breads, I use stoneware cloches [mentioned earlier].  The go into the cold oven, and as the oven heats, so do they -- up to 450F.  They sit in there toasting away for at least 45 min... The room temp dough is plopped in the hot cloche.  Never sticks -- The cloche is too hot.  After 3 mins, drop temp to 220F.  After ten mins, take the top off... bake another 10+ until 205F internal.

Participants loooove weighing ingredients [why is this new?] and taking a loaf's temp!  I guess it's just such a novel idea to people who have never done it.

When baking in the outdoor ceramic "cooker," I maintain temps for 400F until the ceramics and pizza stone are stable -- this is usually about 45 min also.  The shaped dough goes right on to the pizza stone [Yes -- I do use parchment].  The placement of the pizza stone 1" above the "platesetter" is important, so the bottom of the loaf doesn't burn [the pizza stone isn't subjected to direct heat].  Charcoal fired, ceramic cookers cook in any temperature, any winter storm -- but they can be tricky when baking.

Two winters ago -- at the encouragement of neighbors! -- I conducted an afternoon "cook" in the driveway in sub-freezing weather with a stiff wind.  We had eight ceramic cookers fired... and in addition to bread, we did chicken, shrimp, of course pizza, rork roulade, beef stew... steak, all sorts of burgers... and an apple pie.

We set up several tables in the driveway to prepare food, and had over a hundred friends and neighbors come by to learn, chat and eat.  Five of us cooked and instructed, passed out instructional recipes... yada-yada.

The neighbors want a repeat -- but my body just can't take the cold.

I'm getting ready for a late-winter [indoor] workshop for people who want to repeat an earlier workshop, and plan to do honey wheat, dinner rolls, sub loaves, and some sweet-dough, like cinnamon buns, sticky buns.  We do these workshops in a church kitchen... so most everything we need is right there -- lots of counter space, easy-to-clean floor... [I'm pretty messy!]

I'm getting my recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal bread tuned... I hope in time.  I can't possibly eat all I bake, so my neighbors are my guinea pigs.

I'm 67-y-o, handicapped with multiple spine injuries -- Otherwise in my retirement, I would be taking regularly scheduled classes... but I don't have the endurance to get through a class.  Conducting a few workshops here and there is extremely exhausting, which is why the participants do all the work --  :)  I just "superintend."

Best Wishes on your Workshops!  Use that degree all you can, and spread the knowledge and experience.  If, through a workshop, all you accomplish is transmitting your love of your craft, you'll have inspired others to pass on your culinary heritage.


~ Broc


mabaker's picture

Your workshop outdoor sounds awesome though the cold:-)

I could see you were a teacher-you are very methodic!!:-)

So -good tips for the workshop.


From my previous workshops Iv'e noticed that people just want to have a good time and also learn a thing or too...but the total experience is what matters.

Feel good! it sounds you have a lot of energies to spread.

Thanks for the explanation about the clouche. Never used it before but I will try in the future!

Have a great evening!


Ma Baker

ananda's picture


I think Paul has made some really helpful suggestions.

Especially if you are doing batards, as working "en couche" will so impress your students.   I know it can be hard, but if, as you say, you are not going with high hydration, you should easily pull that one off.

I would prove the boules in "bannetons".   Again, I echo what Paul says here: it is very easy to improvise, and this is very instructive to your students.

I don't go along with this idea of not pre-heating your oven.   When I bake at home, I use a regular electric oven with a fan.   I have 3 bricks in the oven and place a metal baking sheet on top of these.   The oven needs a good hour to allow heat to settle into the bricks before baking; there is NO substitute for an element of retained heat!   I also have an old roasting dish in the bottom, filled with small stones: pouring boiling water onto these gives great supply of steam!   But this is pretty simple stuff, and it allows me to bake totally authentic pain aux levains in any shape or form.   Since my wife cannot tolerate commercial yeast all the bread we eat is made this way.

For batards, use a rectangular piece of cardboard, the same length as your batard pieces, to lift and guide your dough pieces onto the heated tray.   Dust the tray with rice cones first.   Cut [slash] the batards, then set to bake and apply steam as above.   For the boules tip out the loaves onto the heated tray, again use rice cones to prevent sticking.   Slash accordingly, apply steam and bake.

Just to clarify; I lecture in bakery, so have plentiful access to commercial means; it just doesn't work for what we want to eat ourselves.

Above all, enjoy yourself, and make sure your students do too!

Have a great time, and best wishes


lindasbread's picture

Hi mabaker,

I teach bread baking classes in other peoples homes. If you would like to exchange ideas, email me