Artisan Breads 101

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I enrolled myself in an artisan bread baking class to see if I could learn some tips and hone my skills. The class took place during two saturdays, and it just so happened that it rained all day on both saturdays, so what better thing to do on a rainy day then bake bread! The class was super fun, it really made me wish I could go to school full time for this kind of stuff, but alas, work always seems to get in the way of these things. Although we had two full days of baking, I’m going to focus more on the second day, mostly because it was more interesting but also because that’s the only day I remembered to bring my camera.

Preparing for class

On the first day, we created our own sourdough starters and brought them home with us to feed daily and prepare them for the following weeks class. Mine was pretty active and smelling pretty pungent by the end of the week, perfect for some sourdough making.

Meet Lola! What? Doesn’t everybody name their jars of bacteria?

We started off by making some Honey Whole Wheat Multigrain loaves, totally not vegan but easy to veganize nonetheless. It was great to work with my hands and get a real feel for the consistency of the dough. All the kneading by hand gave us an idea of how long it takes for the gluten to develop properly and I finally know exactly what to look for when I do the windowpane test.

Not my hands

As we were waiting for that to rise, our lovely instructor Marnie Fudge showed us how to incorporate fresh berries into breads without crushing them all and making a big pink or blue mess. Instead of throwing them in the mixer and watching them go round and round, she showed us a way to cut them in. First you flatten the dough, sprinkle the berries (we used cranberries) over the top, fold the dough over to seal, cut the dough into pieces and then lightly knead them back together.

Ciabatta is something I’ve always wanted to try making, it’s a really wet and sticky dough and is a bit of a pain to work with but oh man does it make some killer buns. You really need to oil your hands before delicately handling it, unless you want to end up with your hands completely gunned up and the dough deflated.

These turned out beautifully, a crisp outside with a slightly chewy interior and lots of large holes throughout. I wish I had gotten an inside shot but we gobbled them all up too fast.

Once the multigrain bread had risen we went over some shaping techniques and finished them off by rolling the tops on a damp cloth and then rolling them in some mixed grains.

During the beginning of the class we mixed up our sourdough breads, I’ll do a separate post about the sourdough bread and french baguettes we made another time so I can post some recipes along with it. We did some more shaping and got a little more creative.


Nice and proofed. Time for some slashing.

The crust and crumb for this sourdough turned out really nice but I could have gone for a stronger flavour, I’ll have to give my starter a couple more weeks as mine was too young to produce a really robust favour this time around.

Fresh sourdough bread in my belly!

Over the two classes we made Pumpernickel Rye, French Brioche, Semolina, Sourdough Rye (amazing flavour!), Ciabatta, Naan, Honey Whole Wheat Multigrain, Basic Sourdough, Old Dough Baguettes and Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaves. Holy hell! I don’t think we’ve ever had so much bread in our house, P definitely wasn’t complaining.

The very talented Marnie

If you’re interested in bread baking then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this class, Marnie is a fantastic instructor and I learned so many great new tips and tricks. If you happen to live in Calgary and have the extra bucks, check it out! The class takes place at SAIT and doesn’t happen very often so spots fill up fast.

5 thoughts on “Artisan Breads 101

  1. Stephanie says:

    This class looks awesome! I would love to spend a weekend or two baking bread. I mean, I already spend my weekends baking bread but it would be awesome to work in those kitchens and get some professional instruction. Your bread looks beautiful

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