Monday, April 20, 2009

SFBI - Whole Grains Workshop Day 1

Wow, what a day! We baked 5 pear-buckwheat loaves, 8 semolina fennel golden raisins breads and 5 wheat germ baguettes, all gorgeous and delicious. Neighbors and family flocked to the house when I came back and whatever is left over will go into the neighbor's freezer for all to enjoy over the weeks to come (our freezer is too small).
Our instructor is Didier Rosada. He started learning about bread at age 15, worked for Club Med, got his Master Baker's degree and now works in a large bakery in DC, consulting and teaching in various schools and bakeries. In English, his French accent is music to my ears; in French, he speaks with a lilting accent which brings back many memories of childhood summers in the southern France.
The day started with a class on whole grains which taught me a lot. Most important is this piece of advice: always reserve some of the water quantity specified in the formula as water absorption varies greatly from flour to flour, even within the same brand and type. Sometimes you'll use it all, sometimes you'll have to add more, sometimes you'll keep some back.
The real and only test is the consistency of the dough.
I also learned that a bread with a large amount of whole wheat flour is best scored before the proofing. Otherwise the dough might collapse. Also with whole wheat, cuts need to be more perpendicular to the sides of the dough to give a round cross-section. Same with rye.
Finally (for tonight because in fact I learned much more than that today) I learned that it is best to use a specialty flour in a preferment (as opposed to the final dough) as you get all the benefit of the flavor and still get the strength of the bread flour (in the final dough). 
More tomorrow!

For more on SFBI, please refer to the Institute's website.


  1. Fabulous! Say hello to Susan for me!

  2. MC, I always enjoy your SFBI posts! Could you elaborate a bit on the technique used to shape the pear-shaped loaves?



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