The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Applying bread science to real world results

onandon1234's picture

Applying bread science to real world results

Hey everyone, I just finished reading “ The Taste of Bread” by Raymond Calvel and learned about the complexities of bread making. My question is, how do I apply the knowledge of Alveographs , flour types etc to improve my bread? For example, how do I use an autolyse to manipulate the properties of my dough to get a better p/l ratio? Or how do I know to figure out the optimal hydration?  How do I use all of that information to for example achieve a better oven spring? Any resources or tips you guys could point me to ? Thanks’ 

mariana's picture

Hi! I also read Calvel when I started and by that I mean the second part of the book as well, where the recipes are. I baked them, one after another, until I was successful, and each taught me how to understand the explanations that come with the recipes and in the first part of the book.

That is how they teach bread making in France, two parallel classes, on theory and practical breadmaking while noticng links between them when bread or dough is not picture prefect. Calvel provides plenty of pictures to compare your results with his for each stage of breadmaking.

I was noticing how different flours with their unique p/l affect bread, different hydration levels, different duration of autolysis, length of kneading, different amounts of steam and steam temperature, how it affects oven spring, etc. 

Your best resource might be an instructor from a baking school where you are taking classes or at least people here. Every single topic from Calvel has been discussed here already and there are plenty of knowledgeable bakers lurking here, always ready to help.

As you bake Calvel's breads using his recipes, compare your intermediate and final results with his as shown in his pictures and if you are unable to figure out the source of the difference, then ask questions here and someone will discuss it with you and you will be able to re-read the relevant section from the first part of Calvel's book and see how the choice of flours and other ingredients or differences in technology affected your bread.

Best wishes,


riserofthebre4ds's picture

I've never heard of the two parallel classes tbh, makes total sense though because they're vastly different learning curves and applications. 

mariana's picture

Yes, it maybe two separate textbooks or two or more in one volume, as in Calvel's text or in Michel Suas (San-Francisco Bread Institute textbook, Advanced Bread and Pastry).

This is an example of two manuals, one for theory and another for practice, by Gerald Biremont used to teach new French bakers their metier. Very comprehensive, with exam questions and all.  Their "Certificat d'aptitude professionnelle" (CAP, diploma) is given once you pass all the exams (practical and theory) based on these textbooks.

I've seen German and Swiss textbooks for the practical part, with recipes and step by step illustrations for the method and common mistakes analysis further split into separate volumes, for breads, yeasted enriched breads and Vienna breads, for cakes and pastries, etc. Each trade school has their own set of manuals of this sort.