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wabi

Bread Baking school?

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I'm 64, and am winding down in my professional career. A avid home chef, I still enjoy learning new techniques and dishes. The real weak spot in my cooking skill set is bread baking. I can make a hella good loaf of Lahey's no need to knead bread, but I really want to up my game to include both day to day loaves, but also artisan breads. My goal in life is to learn to bake a really good baguette. I just renovated my kitchen, which now includes a large island work surface, and a pair of Miele ovens...a convection oven, and a plumbed convection steam oven. 

 

I've plenty of cookbooks, telling me how to bake everything from A to Z, but I've never had anyone show me how to bake a loaf of bread. I dont know the basic techniques. You can read everything you want to about how do do certain things, but until you see someone do it, see the fine points, ask questions as they and then you are doing it...I have a hard time perfecting even the basics.

 

So I have thought about going to a baking school. I've researched with Google, and have found the King Arthur Flour Company's school, but before I put down my tuition, I wanted to know if there are any other schools out there, with courses about 1-2 weeks long that will be intensive bread baking instructions...Hands on, here's how you do it kind of schools.

 

Does anyone have knowledge, experience or have gone to any courses like this and have an opinion or recommendation?

 

I live in Hawaii, so no matter where the school is, I am going to have to travel.....

 

Thank you all in advance for your thoughts.

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I know you asked for schools, but to start with: Order some books. Others will chime in, but for me, Bread Baker's Apprentice by Reinhardt or Bread by Hamelman are great to start with.


Edited by keychris (log)

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I have to wonder how many of the fabulous bread bakers who are members of eG ever attended baking school.  @Ann_T or @Franci  for instance. I don’t mean to slight many others but these are the two names that come to my mind right at this moment. Oh and @JoNorvelleWalker   

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Thank you keychris. I have 20-30 bread baking books in my collection, including those you mentioned.

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As others note - some of the books are wonderful. My 5th grader needed some responsiobility tasks that would also lift his self esteem. I handed him Volume 2 of Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and told him I'd like a baguette. He had never even seen me in my bread baking days. I stayed at home but in another room as back-up. A LONG recipe but it was really good bread. His proud smile when relatives praised it was priceless. Also if you can find Nancy Silverton's (La Brea Bakery) Gourmet article from March 1996 "A Lesson in Baking Bread" - DO. It is magnificent. I have it somewhere in my saved article box. PM me if you can't find it and I'll mail. Flour and water are cheap and sounds like you have the time.  

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I think there are online classes if you want to avoid travel. 

 

But if you want an excuse to travel, there was an American business women who went directly to France at the Le Cordon Bleu. 

 

She wrote a book about her experience - not a bread specific school but sounds like a good excuse to travel, learn, see new things before getting too old to leave the bed 

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I think the best choice for you would be going to a bakery and ask for a stage. If you are really willing to learn then that's the best road. You will not be paid, you'll have to deal with basic tasks, but you'll have the chance to see what's the real deal. Working for free means you don't get money, but it also means you don't spend money to be taught.

 

Otherwise you can check with your local colleges, there are various cooking schools in Hawaii, for sure there is a bread program that can suit your needs.

 

 

 

Teo

 


Teo

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4 hours ago, Anna N said:

I have to wonder how many of the fabulous bread bakers who are members of eG ever attended baking school.  @Ann_T or @Franci  for instance. I don’t mean to slight many others but these are the two names that come to my mind right at this moment. Oh and @JoNorvelleWalker   

 @Anna N,  I haven't gone to school or taken any bread baking classes.   Just a home cook/bread baker. 

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My bread-baking talents don't come up to many of the others in this group, but when I decided I wanted to bake, I just dived in and started, me and the recipe books. Yes, I had some decided failures. But they became fewer. Of course, I am a verbal rather than visual/tactile learner, so that was an advantage. If you're the type who learns better in a classroom setting, I can't imagine you'd find a school much better than what I'd expect the King Arthur classes to be.

 

I will say that the biggest thing that helped my bread-baking along was getting my Kitchenaid stand mixer. I'm a wuss with not near enough upper body strength. I'm bad to give up on hand kneading before I ought to, before the dough's ready. You only have to knead it to that point once, via KA, and feel it to know the difference.

 

Once I learned the basics. reading in this forum helped me refine and learn much more.

 

FWIW, Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Bread Bible is my favorite bread recipe book. 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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1 hour ago, Ann_T said:

 @Anna N,  I haven't gone to school or taken any bread baking classes.   Just a home cook/bread baker. 

Just as I suspected!  Self taught and very well taught!  

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Once upon a time I registered for a KAF one day bread seminar.  But at the last moment my transportation cancelled.  So I am still a virgin.

 

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I have heard good things about the King Arthur Flour school & classes by Cirl Hitz (http://breadhitz.com/events.html). Have not taken classes at either location but I think eGullet member @tikidoc has taken bread classes at both, perhaps she will share her experiences.

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I've done a few classes at KAF, and they were great. But I second those who say pick a book and work your way through it, and/or find a local bakery to stage at. If you already have the basics, you'll get more out of a class.


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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22 hours ago, wabi said:

Thank you keychris. I have 20-30 bread baking books in my collection, including those you mentioned.

 

Do you have Modernist Bread?  I've always thought that if I wanted to get serious about bread that working through those volumes would be my first step.  Just something to think about if travel to VT in mid winter is not your cuppa. 

 

I have no direct experience with the KAF courses but have only heard good things about them. It sounds like you have given this a lot of thought and identified a specific goal:

23 hours ago, wabi said:

My goal in life is to learn to bake a really good baguette.

If you don't get the feedback you've asked for here from former KAF students, I'd encourage you to engage with their staff to make sure you are choosing the best classes to fit your goals.

 

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The French Pastry School in Chicago has 3- to 5-day classes on bread as well as a 10-week professional baking program. Depending on where you live, it may be easier/cheaper than going to Vermont.

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I agree with @Anna N's observation that there are spectacular bread bakers here with no classroom training. If you're interested in an online course, I recommend Peter Reinhart's course on Artisan Bread Baking. When I took it, he interacted with the class and answered questions, even though the videos had been shot some time before. I don't know how long that can be counted on, but since the course is still available he may still be checking in on it.

 

The class is taught under Bluprint.com. You can join Bluprint for an annual fee, or buy individual courses. I think I paid $15 or $20 for this course, when it was on sale. Artisan Bread Baking with Peter Reinhart


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I want to thank you all for your excellent suggestions. I am still contemplating what I will do, but I think that trying some of the online courses seems like a great idea to start.

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On 12/11/2019 at 8:18 AM, curls said:

I have heard good things about the King Arthur Flour school & classes by Cirl Hitz (http://breadhitz.com/events.html). Have not taken classes at either location but I think eGullet member @tikidoc has taken bread classes at both, perhaps she will share her experiences.


I took a class with Ciril Hitz but not KAF. I think Ciril used to do some of the KAF classes - not sure if he still does. It was a fun class. It was a general bread baking class, and we made several different breads. He showed us lots of techniques for shaping the dough, and we all left with a bunch of great breads. He was an enthusiastic, engaging teacher. I would happily take a class from him again. We happened to be on the way to a vacation in MA, and the timing was perfect to do the class on the way to our vacation.

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On 12/10/2019 at 11:31 AM, wabi said:

So I have thought about going to a baking school.

 

 

So I have a friend in a similar situation, well he went to culinary school first at a local community college. But later ended up at the San Francisco Baking Institute and had nothing  but raves about the quality of instruction and bread

 

https://www.sfbi.com/

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Thank you for the nod for the San Francisco Baking Institute....it has been high on my radar since I started thinking of this.

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You are getting lots of good advice.  Some learn well by reading a book,  others can learn from a video, others really benefit from in person.  While an in person class can be very helpful,  I suggest you pick a book and work your way through it before you go to a class you have to travel to attend.  That way you will have a good idea of the basics before you go to class, and the instructor can help you improve.  My suggestion is Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, and check out his videos as well,  and take lots of notes of your successes and failures.  

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Im retired too. I spent 50 yrs baking, its a trade and trades are hand skills .

You could read til blue in the face but until someone guides your hands it can be frustrating.

I don't recommend any books .  Its not knowledge intensive, its labor intensive.

Baguettes are simple as far as recipes go but its all in the method.

There are lots of baguette videos on youtube,  visuals are better than trying to get it from a text.

I would focus on one bread , not shooting wildly into the sky with a different bread every day.

Pain de mie is a straightforward simple bread that you can master and stay fed.

If you can get into a bakery working free that will teach you very well.

 

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