I am now officially a baker’s apprentice.
I got in touch with one of the high-end artisan bakeries in town and set up a time this morning to come in and meet the master baker. This guy is a class act, very friendly and extremely educated about bread and baking. And what a resume! He’s worked all over the world and has multiple degrees in things I didn’t know existed, like cereal biology and malt sciences.
I brought in some breads for him to taste, and for him to gauge how I was doing with my baking. A few minutes after six, I was let into the bakery and met the baker. I got to start right away in the kitchen, and we were off talking about starters, sponges, pre-ferment times, dough assembly, ingredients. I was in heaven. I got to watch and help put together a big batch of what would be French bread, and helped formed the small dough balls. We went out to the seating area to taste my bread. He really liked the ciabatta and said, “The flavor’s there,” Which is great to hear from such a pro. The soda bread was well received but the Heavenly sandwich needs some work to tone down the yeast flavor and get it more creamy and clean.
He showed me through the stages of his build, opened up vats of sourdough starter and plastic tubs full of rich biga, and encouraged me to touch and smell everything. This is exactly what I wanted—to find someone passionate about bread and the techniques of baking to teach me everything that books cannot: hands-on technique and craftsmanship.
I got to meet the owner and arranged to get my food handler’s certificate, with the stipulation that I only do my apprenticeship during non-business hours at the bakery. That means that every Friday, I’ll be at the bakery from 5:30-7:00 am getting my bread-u-cation before going to work.
This morning, there was something special about arriving downtown while the city was still quiet and foggy, and peering through the wrought iron gates of the bakery through the open doors and seeing fresh breads on the rack. And I got let in, let in to this new world. This is an incredible opportunity to learn from a master, and I can’t wait until next week.