Back to School
Last Saturday Karen, Tim and I went to the Sydney TAFE (Technical and Further Education) College to join the Artisan Bread Making course, with Boris as the Teacher. This was a simple one day course designed to introduce students to sourdough bread making. My main motivation for going was to see how Boris teaches in a formal setting and to see some larger scale machinery for bread making (I’ve always had a fantasy to own a serious dough mixer like a Hobart).
Being an IT professional, where most of your work is done sitting on your ass, it was quite an eye opener to see how hard it is working in a commercial bakery, much less teaching a herd of deer how to make sourdough bread.
It was a great day all round and we came home with a much better appreciation for what happens in a real artisan bakery where things have to be timed to perfection. In the one day, all 15 students made a dough that we took home for an overnight retardation and morning final proof then baking. What made it even more impressive is that we also got to:
- Scale and mold a previously made batch of white sourdough. Boris had made it the previous day so we could practice the molding. These went into the prover, which meant it would be ready for baking after lunch. Not like at home where it takes quite a few hours.
- Helped to make the final dough of a 100% rye bread. We then scaled and molded it into small tins. Again into the prover for an afternoon bake.
- Watched (with a touch of glee) as Boris botched up a mixed grain rye, then deftly showed us how you can correct errors by recalculating and adding ingredients to compensate for the error. He mis-calculated the water required and what made it funny was that in Bread Boss the water was correctly calculated – moral of the story: always use Bread Boss Boris!
- We scaled and molded the corrected mixed grain rye and again into the prover for an afternoon bake.
- The rye loaves proved very quickly in the proving machine (I think it was set at 37°C or 99°F). The 100% rye was the first in the oven. I think it was a good 90 minutes to bake at 190-200°C (374-392°F).
- Once the white loaves were ready we got lessons on how to slash.
- The day before Boris asked me to prepare a stencil with the Bread Boss logo so we can put it on the bread during the course. We did a positive and negative image and made stencils and then dusted flour over them to get the image.
- When one task was finished there was the next. Time to pull the Rye loaves out. Loved the cracked pattern on the loaves. After molding the rye we rolled them in rye meal. As the dough grew it cracked, producing the attractive pattern – remember that rye doesn’t have the same kinds of proteins as wheat, hence the different way it grows and expands.
- The white sourdoughs were next out and I was reasonably pleased with our stencil result. The negative was not too good, but the positive came out a treat.
- Finally the mixed grain with 40% rye came out, another beautiful cracking effect, except this time the dough was rolled in wheat flour, so the finished result was a nicer yellowish color.
It was a great experience and very much appreciated by all the students. I’ve a new found respect for both professional bakers and teachers.
A special mention to Laurie, who despite being way over the retirement age was still there working as hard or harder than any of us. I guess a good baker never retires, just changes bakeries.