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Orange Boot Update: Artisan Baking in San Francisco

bench full of loaves from SFBI baking class

Hi Everyone,

Week 1 of my journey at the San Francisco Baking Institute is over, leaving me exhausted and energized at the same time. It was a very good first week -- we deconstructed every component of bread making and assembled the component parts in a whirlwind of combinations.

Mixing techniques? Pick from short, intensive or improved mixing.

Flour? Do you mean bread flour, high-gluten flour, rye, or whole wheat?

Water? Simple enough, but do you want a stiff, medium or high hydration?

Pre-ferments? You bet! But should I use pate fermentee, poolish or a sponge.

Even salt was discussed at length -- what kind, how much and when to add.

By the end of the week we had created seven different kinds of baguettes, all with the same four ingredients -- flour, water, salt and yeast. I'll never look at a baguette the same way again.

We also made several other types of bread which are in the picture above. Let me tell you, the multigrain batard in the front row is the best tasting loaf of bread I have eaten. Ever. Three days later I get misty when I eat a slice. It's that good, and I can't wait to make it for you when I get back to Regina. The whole wheat boules in the background are amazing too.

The best thing about the course so far is that I have a much better understanding of the fundamentals of bread baking. This knowledge builds a platform that will allow me to experiment for years to come. It will take me at least three years to exhaust the potential of this week.

Tomorrow we throw commercial yeast back in the cooler and dive into the amazing world of wild yeast, or sourdough, breads. I sampled some sourdough at lunch last week and I can't wait to learn more about this complex topic.

I have energy like never before and wish there was a way to bake for you all over the weekend while I wait for the next class to start. I hope you are all well and I look forward to talking with you all in a couple more weeks.