Many years ago, I would admire the wonderful looking loaves of bread that I would come across in bakeries. They had both a visual appeal and that wonderful fresh baked scent, and I’d dream that maybe someday, I’d have the equipment and skills needed to bake such good bread! I had the erroneous belief that baking artisan and bakery quality bread was difficult, if not impossible, in a home kitchen. I thought you’d need special bake ovens, unique and expensive equipment, and thought it would be a lot of work.
While some artisan breads are a lot of work, you can make high quality loaves with basic equipment you have in your home, as well as that regular home kitchen oven. I’ve been baking a variety of breads for decades, including sandwich loaves, Irish Soda Farls and Wheaten bread, but was afraid of attempting much more than that.
My first venture into trying artisan breads was about ten years ago, with the publication of the “No Knead” bread recipe in a major New York newspaper. Requiring little effort but lots of time, and only a dutch oven to bake it in, the no knead loaf was an immediate hit with guests and friends, and my son and I even baked about 12 loaves in one day for my mom’s wedding!
In the subsequent years, I’ve picked up a couple of amazing books by Peter Reinhart:
Both are wonderful books with lots of information and teaching and my copies are well used! In fact, I may need to replace them as they are always in my kitchen, have been spilled on, and the pages show much use including wear and tear. But even with these books, sometimes it would be nice to see how things are done, either watching Peter work in person, or perhaps in video.
Well, I discovered some time ago that Peter Reinhart teamed up with a crafts site that provides a variety of courses, and one of those courses is Peter teaching how to bake artisan bread with the use of video. I quickly signed up and have been learning ever since! The course is wonderful as it provides a medium for being able to visualize what Peter is doing when he bakes his breads, and he is a wonderful teacher as well. The course starts out with an introduction to artisan baking along with important information to understand the entire making, baking, and eating of good quality bread. Peter refers to a 12 step process (yes, the last step is eating the bread!) that makes it easier to know what is going on and what makes a good bread, good.
In addition, the course then covers the following:
- Country Bread Variation & Shaping Options
- Rustic Breads including Pain a L’ancienne, Classic Ciabatta, Focaccia, and Mini Baguettes.
- Enriched Bread including dinner rolls
- Marble Rye (with a lesson on braiding)
- Making Babka
- And Much More!
I tried making the Chocolate Babka for a family Christmas event, and while it did not turn out quite as impressive looking, visually, as Peter’s did, I was quite pleased with the many comments about how good it tasted! It was my first time attempting at such a rich bread with chocolate (although Peter uses semi-sweet dark chocolate chips but all I had on hand were milk chocolate chips).
If you are interested in learning techniques for artisan bread baking (or improving on your present skills), I highly recommend this course:
I know you’ll love the course! Peter is a wonderful instructor, and the course also comes with downloadable resources in PDF format that you can print, including recipes and instructions.