Wednesday, July 30, 2008

San Francisco Baking Institute

Just spent 2 weeks at the San Francisco Baking Institute - getting the lowdown on hand-crafted breads.

An excellent 2 weeks, Artisan I, then Artisan II, back-to-back. Bit of a stamina test but ably led by the energy and tremendous skills of our instructor Steven Isaac. Both weeks had crews of about 16 students that were all a delight to work with. The whole place is dedicated to great bread and SFBI has very good facilities and instructors to get novices or experts to their next levels in baking.

Pre-class coffee was enlivened by whatever pastries the professional 18 week class had made the day before. Lunches were great; ranging from fresh wheat-germ baguettes with mozzarella, tomato, and fresh basil, to soups, fresh hand-made pizzas, and the best ever sandwich rye bread, among others. Just a great experience all round.

This is the first time I've tried to adapt my newly learned skills to my own bakery with its specific limitations, but not bad none-the-less. Certainly more attractive loaves than I've been able to make in the past. Still some problems with the steam in my oven... blah blah... but the crust was nice and thin and crispy if a little dull from insufficient steam. Not too bad internal crumb structure, despite the seam blowouts that happened because my "people" were baking pan bread for the breeding program today and just had sheet pans and not hearthstones in the oven.

The pictures tell some of the story [minus aroma and taste], good enough as straight-dough emergency bread to have with my own mozzarella, tomato, and fresh basil tonight.

These are cereal scientist-style standard test-bake pan breads baked by my able assistant; the 'real' work going on in the lab today.

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