The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Student seeking knowledge on Artisan baking

eldil's picture

Student seeking knowledge on Artisan baking

I am currently enrolled in college for Baking and Pastry Arts in Ontario, Canada and I am very interested in furthering my knowledge in the bread field, specifically Artisan bread baking. However, I am unsure as to where to turn next. After I receive my degree from college I do not know of any place to continue learning about this field. How did you start? Any advice and tips would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you

Rosalie's picture

I, for one, am strictly an amateur.  I learned some at my mother's knee, so to speak, and more from my friends.  Later on, as the artisan movement began to take hold, I learned from books and the fabulous Internet - listservs and TheFreshLoaf.

But you're going to school learning about baking.  So you're going to have to let us know what they're teaching you.


PaddyL's picture

That's how I learned, first books from the library, then I kept buying them, mostly second-hand, but bread books were also on Christmas and birthday lists.  I read and studied and baked and baked and baked.  That way, you get to know the dough, the chemical reactions that are going on under your very able hands, you can get a feel for the dough and begin to know it and to be able predict how certain ingredients or baking methods come together to make your bread.  Go to various websites, by all means, but keep on reading as much as you can, and just keep on baking.  Good luck, and most of all, enjoy yourself.

KazaKhan's picture

I'm currently doing a module on chocolate & artisan bread at TAFE in Australia, it is now part of the standard course i believe. We're doing chocolate for the next 6 weeks (1 day a week) then into artisan breads.

eldil's picture

Thank you all for your speedy replies.

At the college we have practical and theory classes so I do learn a lot about the science of baked goods and can relay that information in the baking lab. So technically, yes, I do know how to bake bread both by hand and by mixer but I feel I lack the experience to go right into a job as a baker. The college does not have specialty programs for breads as I am guessing the turn out would just be too small (our class has 40 people) but there are patissier programs available to take once you graduate. 

 I guess I will just have to continue practising at home and see if a local bakery will hire me as an apprentice.

ehanner's picture

You might consider looking at the courses that the San Francisco Baking Institute offers. They have a well respected Artisan Bread school that isn't long and from the reports of people here who have gone is worth while. 

My advice would be to decide on a type of bread that you would like to make, research the various variables and bake it repeatedly until you get the results you expect. Start with a simple formula using the basic 4 ingredients so you get a feel for the importance of hydration, temperature and handling. Then modify your basic bread to create something new. Along the way I hope you post some pictures of your progress. There is plenty of support for your efforts here.


eldil's picture

Thank you for being so supportive. Unfortunately I don't live anywhere near San Fransisco but if I did I would be there in a heart beat. I also saw an artisan bread course available in Tuscany! Oh how I wish I could go there. Well maybe one day once I pay off my student loans.

Anyway I have bought some bread flour and the likes and I shall be starting with some kaiser buns later this week. I'll make sure to post some pictures on here.

Thanks again!

eldil's picture

So I finally got around to making some Kaiser rolls. I used the recipe found in The Village Baker and it worked wonderfully. It took pretty much all day to make them, what with the poolish at the start and the long rests but it was well worth it. The only thing I am concerned about is why didn't the lines show up as well as in the picture in the book? I guess I just need practice with professionally shaping kaiser rolls. Here are some pictures, advice is welcomedkaiser rolls

Paddyscake's picture

I'm assuming from the Kaiser rolls I've seen on the site that achieving a definitive
pattern is not easy. I have seen roll "stamps" on the SFBI site. The concept makes
sense to me..for what it's worth..

nbicomputers's picture

see this thread with my post and formula on page two

from the photo the dough looks like it spead a little meaning to soft

if using a stamp a softer roll dough is ok but shapeing by hand a stiffer dough will hold the shape better.

as in my post in the other thread rye flour is a must for dusting the bench and should be the only flour used during shapeing and makeup of these rolls. the reason is that rye flour is a very soft flour and will greatly help in keeping the folds apart 

if stamping the stamp should be diped in oil every 3 or 4 rolls  the oil will help keep the cuts from growing back toghter.

rolls where the cuts have gone back toghter are called baking blind. the oil on the stamp or the rye flour will realy help stop this from happening.

white rye flour can be found online at the KA online store.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

wyllow42's picture

I, too, graduated from culinary school, and I think that no one fresh out of school is ready to jump in and take over anything.  We had to do externships, or apprenticeships, and then start pretty close to the bottom of the ladder.  (I specialized in pastry, and am just now venturing over more to the baking side.)

 Are there any big hotels nearby that have great breads?  What about local bakeries that jus make you drool?  Try getting a job there and work with the various doughs and techniques until you can do it in your sleep.  Soon you'll be able to play around with formulas, temperatures, etc., and be baking your own brand.

Exceptional breads, especially, just take experience, experience, experience.  :) 

eldil's picture

Well I am happy to announce that I have just recently got a job at a local small scale wholesale bakery. It specializes in Artisan type bread, its not very traditional but it will do for the time being. I am working right on the front lines doing everything from making doughs to dividing, scaling and baking. Right now my i'm specializing in hot cross buns but hopefully over time I will work my way up to the more advanced breads. Its hard work compared to college but its preparing me for the future and I am learning so much. I will post some pictures of the breads soon. :)

RFMonaco's picture

...on your new endeavor! Maybe you can latch on to some special know-how that can help us newbies...ala Norm.

Floydm's picture

Congrats! Keep us posted on how it works out for you.

pjkobulnicky's picture

My son graduated from the SFBI program and is now an artisan baker but even he will tell you that he learned his craft by many, many days on the job getting his hands to feel what they were expected to feel.

Great bakeries are always looking for good line staff so when you are ready, move around and try to get to work with the best bakers and in the best bakeries (not always one in the same by the way). 

Good choice for a profession. 


Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio