The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 5

dmsnyder's picture

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 5


SFBI Artisan I, day 5


Today, we baked 3 batches of baguettes - with poolish, sponge and "pre-ferment" (like biga). The didactic portion covered baker's math for doughs with pre-ferments. We reviewed a lot of material on mixing and dough handling. As a "bonus lesson," Miyuki demonstrated special baguette scoring techniques.


Miyuki called this a "Dragon Tail."


Dragon Tail baguette


Bend the baguette into a curve and cut as for an epi, except fold all the pieces to the convex side of the baguette


These are all Miyuki's - ready to load



These are mine - baked


Loading baguettes 


I don't think I've mentioned that there were wonderful pastries available with coffee when we arrived, and we were served delicious lunches each afternoon. Lunch today was two kinds of pizza - margarita and 5 spices chicken, mango and scallion - really delicious. Today, we were also served wine - a very nice pinot grigio. The desserts were lemon macarons and "nouveau linzer," a layer of flourless chocolate cake spread with raspberry jam under chocolate mousse. Ooooooh my!




At the end of the day, Michel Suas met with the class, which is a long story for another time. We tasted the different baguettes we made and also some hand-mixed baguettes Miyuki made and baked in a home-type oven. We took some photos and went home with a couple half-pints of ice cream the interns had made. I got strawberry and cassis.


Michel Suas


Class photo (3 students had to catch planes prior to this, unfortunately.)


I would certainly recommend this course to any serious home baker or any professional baker. For the home bakers: It really helps if you have studied modern bread making concepts beforehand. The workshop covers a lot of material, and it moves fast. You do not want this to be your very first exposure to baker's math or scaling ingredients or using pre-ferments, just to give a few examples. 

On the other hand, the class was about half professionals, some with many years experience as bread bakers in restaurant or bakery environments. There was no one who didn't learn a lot. I think I heard every one of them talking excitedly at one or more points about concepts and procedures they were eager to apply in their own workplaces.

Now, to go home and try to apply everything I've learned. 





pattycakes's picture


I would be particularly interested, after following your baking for so long, to hear what you learned that is going to change what you're doing, or what you learned that impressed you the most...



arlo's picture

I've wondered how to do the dragon tail style baguette! Thanks for answering that question for me with those pictures David.
I am certainly glad you had an adventure and learned quite a lot it sounds like. Thank you once again for sharing your time at SFBI with us here on TFL.

Mebake's picture

I agree with patricia, we'd all like to see the effect of these lessons on your breads!

Well done David!

ananda's picture

Hi David,

It's so good you found time to share this with all on TFL.

I have taught 5 day courses for more advanced bakers.   From my perspective, it is a joy to see just how much everybody gets from them.   Your comments about how these course can inspire different people at different levels are so true.

And there is a heep of information in all your daily posts to give many of us here some "food for thought", for some while to come.

Excellent stuff, thank you


ps. look forward to hearing the lowdown on Michel Suas!

tempe's picture

Oh thank you so much for spending your time each day photographing and then posting your day's events here on TFL, especially for those of us in other parts of the world (mine being Australia) not likely to experience it ourselves.  I've been reading along every day and it's been very interesting and informative reading.  I bet you slept well after each days baking!  The dragon's tail is stunning, also it looks like you were very well looked after there with lunches, coffee and cake. 

LindyD's picture

Well done!

AnnaInMD's picture

Thank you so much to give us a chance "to be there".


louie brown's picture
louie brown

Thank you. I've been wondering about these courses and your writeups bring them to life. 


Do you think it is essential to take the three artisan courses in order? In other words, even if one is not especially interested in baking with commercial yeast, does the first course form a useful basis for what comes afterwards in the other two courses? On the face of it, the answer would seem to be a yes, but there is time and money involved.


How was the cameraderie among the students?


I am also intrigued by your comment about Mr. Suas. Maybe you can share a short insight with us.

EvaB's picture

I have been reading the reports with great interest, as I doubt I will ever manage to get to the courses myself, time, distance and funds being main obstacles, so the report and pictures are very welcome to this armchair traveller.

It just suddenly occured to me, that I could print these out and be able to enjoy and reread the reports at my leisure (being super busy with yard stuff, and cleaning out a room) so have just done that, of course not without difficulty, as I am using the second side of already printed paper, and my printer decided that it was out of yellow toner at the middle of something, so after all that, I now have 5 days of interesting reading to persue later on when I can't get out into the yard, and the room is cleaned.

Thank you once more for your clear and consise reports, the wonderful pictures which made it seem like I was there, and the hours of pleasure you and the others on TFL have given me this past few months.

wally's picture

Thanks especially for sharing Miyuki's really interesting variations on epis.  I have the same question that a lot of folks have raised: So, what will you do differently now?


plevee's picture

That's real dedication to give us such detailed posts every day when you must have been pretty tired. Very much appreciated.

I second the questions above.

Thankyou,  Patsy

grind's picture

Thank you David.

SylviaH's picture

For sharing your daily journal, and I'm looking forward to your posts when you get back home and settle into your baking routine.  I have been wanting to try the 'dragon tail' shaping ever since I first saw it on wildyeasts blog.  What a treat to see it pictured in your journal.  


Thaichef's picture

Dear David:

  Seeing your many bread baking posts before on the TFL site and considered you the "master" prior to the SFBI class, I can't hardly wait to see your "new" bread techniques.

  I have been reading your post of the class every day and really enjoyed it.  Thank you for sharing with us.

 I am making copy of your last day baguette shaping technique to give  to my French friend who will be here next Wed.  He asks that I teach him sourdough bread.  He can take  your article  back and show it to his friends.  I have never seen the baguette shape that way, ever. I also never seen any thing "that" beautiful.

 And the foods that were served in school!!!!!  It must be heaven.

 Thanks again, David.


Yerffej's picture


Thank you very much for taking the time to report on your class experience.  I look forward to any follow up you might provide and must report that I am more than just a tiny bit envious of your last few days.


RobertS's picture

Good Afternoon David:

Let me get in the long lineup of persons expressing their gratitude for your excellent reports from SF. I have taken snaps of many of your pages, and put them in my Breaducation of a Rookie book for future reference.

I have a question. Can you please provide the Baker's Percentages of the baguette dough? I presume that formula was used throughout the seminar, perhaps with some hydration adjustments depending on the type of mixing?



belfiore's picture

Well done, David~this has been a real treat!

Thank you,


teketeke's picture


I appreciate all your work even though you must have been tired. Thank you so much!!


Franko's picture

David this was a wonderful series of posts you did on your experience at SFBI. Many thanks for virtually bringing us along with you on your adventure. Keep this up and next thing you know somebodies going to nominate you for a Peabody award. Seriously though it was one of things I really looked forward to reading as soon as I signed on to TFL everyday and it will be interesting to see how many TFL'rs sign up for the classes because of your posts. You certainly have me thinking about it.

Thanks again David,


dmsnyder's picture

It was an added pleasure to bring my TFL family along on this adventure. I am happy that you seem to have shared some of my excitement and have learned a few things too.

You have been very kind regarding the breads I baked this week and showed you. I have to say, seeing the skills of many of my classmates demonstrated just how much room I have for improvement. 

In response to some of the questions asked:

I can't say what the most important thing I learned was. You can get a sense of this, maybe, just by reading my six blog entries. For your convenience, here are links to the whole set:


SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 1 minus 1

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 1

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 2

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 3

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 4

SFBI Artisan I workshop: Day 5


I trust it's self-evident that my descriptions of the lessons merely skimmed the surface. I could write a volume on everything I learned, but I won't! In fact, I strongly suspect I learned things of which I'm not yet consciously aware. I hope to realize more of them as I continue to bake. I do have some specific new skills I know I will be applying, but I assure you no one is more curious than I to see how my bread baking will change after taking this workshop!

The group of students was delightful. I got to talk with almost all of them before classes, during breaks and at the ends of the days. They are incredibly diverse, having in common a passion for bread and a desire to make their own bread as good as it could possibly be. There was one student who had yet to bake his first loaf. There were others who had been baking professionally for a decade or more. I am not going to share more personal details about them, because I plan on inviting them all to join TFL and hope they will introduce themselves.

I shared some of my own questions about which course to take before I enrolled in Artisan I.  I now have no question but that I made the correct decision. Really, Shiao-Ping and SusanFNP, who were kind enough to help me decide, seriously under-stated the value of starting with Artisan I.  A description of all the SFBI workshops can be found on their web site at:

Michel Suas has been directing the SFBI for 14 years. He is a reflective, sophisticated and passionate baking educator. His curriculum manifests these attributes. The three courses (Artisan I, Artisan II and Artisan III) are really one course of study, with content organized sequentially in order to build skills and knowledge most effectively. I'd advise any one, regardless of their current level, to start with Artisan I. (There are probably some rare exceptions, but they are rare.) I did not hear a single comment from any of my classmates that they regretted taking Artisan I.

So, here I am, back home, with a few breads to freeze and a lot to digest. I'm eager to get back to baking at home, but I think I'll take a short vacation from baguettes. 




louie brown's picture
louie brown

It would seem to make sense to start at the beginning at SFBI in order to get the most from what they offer. The immersion environment appears intensive and collegial at the same time.


Slightly off topic (but important,) did you go out to eat each night, taking advantage of what SF has to offer, or were you too tired?

dmsnyder's picture

did you go out to eat each night, taking advantage of what SF has to offer, or were you too tired?

Too tired to eat? What's that?


Paddyscake's picture

a picture says a thousand words. Your enthusiasm at the loader and the smile in your class photo says it all. No explanation needed.

Thanks for taking us along!


rossnroller's picture

...but what everyone else has already said? So, thanks a lot, David. Excellent detailed reports of an obviously enthralling and intense few days.

Looking forward to seeing how the course experience manifests in your home baking.


PS: Just curious - what does SFBI charge for the Artisan 1 course, pls?

dmsnyder's picture

Here's a link to SFBI's "tuition" page:


rossnroller's picture

...I've already been over the forms on the page you linked to, and couldn't find the Artisan 1 course. I'll look through their site again...must have missed it.


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Ross.

All the 5-day workshops have the same tuition. 


salma's picture

David, I read your journals and I am going to reread and keep looking at the pictures.  I hope you put the breads, you brought home with you, in the freezer.  I cant wait for you to start baking and writing your recipes and posting your beautiful pictures.  I am so ready to follow your baking and try some of them.  Fantastico!


rolls's picture

I'm really enjoying these thank you so much, was there a close up pic of a scored baguette (traditional way) before being loaded? thanks for the new creative ideas for baguettes.

proth5's picture

On learning so much and reporting so well. (And getting to play with the big toys!  I love the big toys!)

I think that what I saw the most in your reflections was the value in simply learning the right technique and then handling a lot of dough - making the same shape over and over.

"My teacher" encouraged me in that direction (which was one of the reasons that I wanted to do that internship with Mark).  At some point we overdose on the theoretical and need to just bake - the same thing - over and over.

I'm still lagging from the westbound Pacfic flight and almost literally counting the minutes until I can return to my so called "normal" life and do some baking. One more Pacific flight to go...

But, of course, you will want to come on down to the IBIE in Las Vagas to take some advanced classes and watch the Coupe Louis LeSaffre :>)


belfiore's picture

There's a place to take classes in Las Vegas??? Going there in October !!!



dmsnyder's picture

Thanks, Pat. I really liked the big mixers, and the ovens would fit in my garage, if I sold a car. Come to think of it, I'd have to sell the Ferrari (which I don't have) to pay for it. Playing with the loaders was fun, but the manual one requires more strength than I imagined. I'm sure a better design could be developed.

I couldn't agree more with your comments about what was valuable. I probably had as much book learning as anyone in my class, with one possible exception. I went to feel the dough, work on the bench intensively and see how a trained and experienced master baker "does it." I feel I achieved all of this to a greater degree than my most optimistic expectations. 

I'd love to attend the Coupe Louis LeSaffre trials! Unfortunately, it runs into the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in San Francisco. I still have to give my day job its due for a while. Hmmm ... Might have to work on the finals in Paris.

If anyone else is interested, (Toni?) SusanFNP has a nice write-up of the trials on her Wild Yeast Blog. Here's a link: World Class Baking


dvuong's picture


Thank you for your posts.  I enjoyed reading about your adventures and seeing all those amazing pictures!  I live literally 5-10 minutes from the SFBI and have never been to it.  I would love to stop by for a visit one of these days.  I wonder if they give tours!  I am new to baking and have considered one of their classes.  Would you say that Artisan I is too advanced for a new baker?