The Fresh Loaf

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Baking Association of Canada - Baking Congress

breadsong's picture

Baking Association of Canada - Baking Congress

Hello everyone,

                …pretty daisies on the exhibition grounds, greeting me as I arrived for the Baking Congress


Summer arrived this week – I’m happy for all the people who have travelled to Vancouver (at this time of beautiful weather!), to participate in the Baking Association of Canada’s Baking Congress, held yesterday and today.
I was able to attend yesterday, enjoyed the company of many really nice people, including TFL’s Floyd, running into him unexpectedly :^)
Floyd's post about the event is here - great coverage and lots of really good photos!

Craig Ponsford, Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie gold medal winner (1996) and former chairman of the Bread Baker’s Guild of America (BBGA) conducted bread-baking demonstrations, ably assisted by Tracy Muzzolini, a member of Team Canada 2008 and the BBGA. Both taught at BBGA's WheatStalk event last summer in Chicago but I didn't have the opportunity to take their classes - so it was wonderful to seem them at this conference. Thanks to them both for the instruction, and their hard work putting together the demo!  

A nice variety of 100% whole-grain breads were prepared – baguettes and Red Fife and barley pretzels (baked that day) and I was able to see Craig shape pumpernickel, braid challah and mix Danish dough to be laminated the next day.

Craig has published a collection of whole-grain and gluten-free recipes for the California Raisin Marketing Board – formulas for delicious-looking pumpernickel and pretzels are here:

Craig shared lots of interesting information during the demonstration I saw.

(display of how the wheat berry components can be separated during milling, part of the lovely display at Nunweiler's Flour booth - the gentleman there very generous, sharing information about milling, and samples of their organic, whole-grain flour)

On whole-milled flour:
- the components of the wheat berry are never separated when flour is whole-milled; flour labelled as whole-wheat could have the endosperm, germ and bran separated and re-combined
- how to tell if the flour you have has been whole-milled: the flour will never sift out white, as the germ ‘smears’ when milling and gives color to the flour; the flour will have similar particle sizes so you won’t see large pieces of bran
- whole-milling stabilizes the germ
- you can use 2/3 less yeast when using whole-milled whole-wheat flour as this flour provides more food for the yeast

On mixing:
- 2nd speed mixing too aggressive for whole-grain flour
- recommended less mixing time and using folds, to preserve flavor
- add salt later on intensive mixes; if you add salt too soon, dough can build strength too fast and potentially break down before it’s fully mixed

On sweeteners:
An interesting thing Craig does to cut down on white sugar is to substitute agave syrup or fruit puree (applesauce, banana or prune puree, raisin paste, hydration may need adjusting if using a really wet puree). He mentioned he includes applesauce in his Pumpernickel bread – wish I could have been there to taste the baked bread!

On shaping:
Craig used wet hands and roughly air-shaped the pumpernickel paste, placed it in a tub of coarse pumpernickel meal, making sure it was completely coated in meal before placing in a greased pan, and noted you can keep the rye paste super wet as the coarse rye will keep on absorbing.

...really coarse pumpernickel meal, and a toss into the pan

And when braiding the challah, he demonstrated how you can braid ‘up’ instead of braiding on a horizontal plane; I think he said it was easier to see what you were doing. It was like he was braiding a little tower - I wish I could have captured that braiding method on video.

On pretzels and lye:
Craig sprayed the pretzels with a 4% lye solution, using a regular spray bottle. I thought this was a wonderful idea - no splashing or dripping as might happen when dipping, no distortion of the shape because you’re not moving the pretzels, and you might not have to mix as much solution?

Here’s the baked baguette, super flavor!:

and the crumb... 

These are pieces of the pretzel cut up for tasting

(I was preoccupied taking the picture and regret not taking a piece, to sample)

A short seminar on sprouted grains was presented by Everspring Farms.

The lady presenting (I regret not catching her name) discussed the nutritional benefits of sprouting, and some variables to consider when sprouting - time and temperature (germination times of 12 to 48 hours were mentioned), and the variety of wheat (as germination weakens the grain).
The lady presenting also mention the duration of germination would affect the amount of sprouted grain you blended into your mix (the longer the length of germination, the lower the inclusion of rate of sprouted grain flour); and that using sprouted flour can give a softer crumb and slow staling.
She also said sprouted grains can be used as a wet mash, but to mill into flour, are the sprouted grain is dried down at a low temperature.
Here’s a picture of a wet mash:
(ground with the Kitchen Aid grinder)

I tried making a sprouted grain bread with that mash, along with additional sprouted whole-wheat flour once, and really liked the bread! The seminar was a good reminder to get organized and try this again.

Here are some pictures of Artistry, on display:



 (this bread was really good)




Dogwood flowers crafted by a young lady from Vancouver Island University, above in color, below, au naturel

This Spring, I've tried to take pictures of dogwood blooms and I'd say the ones above look very realistic!


It was a very enjoyable day at the Baking Congress, so glad I attended - met many helpful and kind people, saw some beautiful baking and got the chance to taste delicious things.

Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong


Mebake's picture

Thanks for taking so many photographs, Breadsong, and thereby sacrificing your chance for sampling them, that is so kind of you.

What a nice congress! and what a fabulous display of beautifully crafted breads!

Thanks for the valuable info on the whole milled wheat, and the nice photographs, oh and thanks alot for the link to Mr. Ponsford recipes.

Much appreciated,


breadsong's picture

Hi Khalid,
Glad you liked the photos and the bread displays, and reading about Craig’s whole-milled flour.
You bake really wonderful whole-grain breads and if you do try any of Craig’s formulas, I hope you love the bread!
:^) breadsong

ananda's picture

Hi Breadsong,

I wondered what you were up we all know.

What a classy event.   Like Khalid, I am immediately drawn into all the wholegrain breads which you mention.   Fabulous!

All good wishes


breadsong's picture


This event was such a good opportunity to meet people and see some beautiful

I haven’t been baking for awhile but can’t wait to get my hands in the dough
after seeing so many wonderful breads lately (I’ve been wistfully watching all
the gorgeous breads go by on TFL, and there were so many lovely breads at the

Thanks, and so nice to hear from you!

:^) breadsong   

dabrownman's picture

me like was there!  Very well done Breadsong.  Nothing like learning a little, noshing a little and seeing new bread, pastry and dessert delights.  Thanks for posting  and Happy Baking

breadsong's picture

Hi dabrownman :^)
Thanks so much for your comment - glad the post made you feel as though you were there!
:^) breadsong

golgi70's picture

What a great post breadsong.  I'd love to attend a conference like such.  Maybe there is something here in California I can plan to attend in the future.  In your small write up I got reassurance in some of my later techniques.

A lot of doughs I work with are "whole grain" and we mill in house.  I prefer to mix low and slow, something that I've naturally come upon.  5-8 in speed one, then salt.  then 5-8 more in speed 1 until the dough has begun to develop then finish quickly in speed 2 (1-2 minutes)  then adding stretch and folds.  Gives me the best feeling doughs that are high in grain.  I've even adapted this approcach on some of my sweet doughs with add-ins (cin raisin, chocolate bread with chocolate chips)  Now for being able to cut the yeast with whole grains that is new to me but makes sense.  Our whole grain doughs once shaped take off during final proof when I'd think they would want longer.  I'll have to play with cutting the yeast down.  Did I read correctly when it says you can use 2/3 less yeast?  Sorry to carry on.

Great Pictures and nice write up


breadsong's picture

Hi Josh,
There is an even bigger conference in Las Vegas this coming October, the IBIE show, running October 6-9/13.
Lots of classes, vendors, equipment, and displays -  in case it is of interest to you?
(I attended the last one, thought it was fantastic, post is here).
You must make very flavorful bread, given your milling and mixing – it must be wonderful bread.
I’ll try to confirm the yeast adjustment, to be certain.
:^) breadsong

Floydm's picture

Great photos and write up, Breadsong!  And great to run into you.  

I'm hoping to get my pictures posted today.

breadsong's picture

Hi Floyd,
It was super to run into you too, and looking forward to your photos.
Hope you enjoyed the conference, and the game!
:^) breadsong

Farine's picture

...Breadsong! Thank you for posting... I love what Craig is doing with whole grains. I do think it is the responsible way to go, health- and environment-wise, although maybe it isn't possible everywhere: I seem to recall he works with extraordinary grains and flours which may be out of reach outside the Bay Area. But I like his degree of commitment and his dedication and of course I greatly admire his skills. What a beautiful crumb on this whole wheat baguette... I so wish I could have a taste.

I would have loved to attend the seminar on sprouted grain too as I think that is a great way to go also and yields such delicious breads. I am already a convert! Your wet mash looks beautiful.

As for the breads and cakes displayed in Artistry, they are magnificent and so alluring! I love the poetry of the dogwood flowers...

What a delightful read to begin the day! Thank you!



breadsong's picture

Hi MC,
You are so welcome! I'm very happy you liked the read, and missed you at the show. I know you would have liked Craig's baking demonstration and what you've said about his skill and approach to whole grains is so true.
If you had tasted that whole-wheat baguette and then written about it - you would have captured the essence of its flavor in an incredibly descriptive, evocative way - that would have been poetry, to me!
As for me, all I could come up with to describe the taste of that baguette was 'super flavor' :^)
For the mash, I have you to thank, for your instructive, informative post about sprouted grains - thanks for pointing me to it, and thank you so much for your kind comment.
:^) breadsong

Alpana's picture

Thanks for such lovely & detailed write-up and photos. And special thanks for the formula link. 

breadsong's picture

Hi Alpana,
You are very welcome! I hope you see Floyd's post too.
Thank you,
:^) breadsong


Franko's picture

Hi Breadsong,

Thanks for sharing your experiences at the baking congress along with all the great photos and links. My gluten free better half sends her thanks as well for the links, some really nice looking recipes on them. Nice to see that True Grain Bakery was there, reminding me that I need to pay them a visit for more RF Flour before too long.

All the best,


breadsong's picture

Hi Franko,
You both are very welcome, and hope you really enjoy the breads and things made from Craig's formulas.
Hope you can make it to the next western Canada conference - and there's Kneading Conference West coming up this September - it's a good one.
I had a feeling about the RF flour so picked you up a sample of organic, whole-grain - watch the post!
:^) breadsong