Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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The 5-Day Bread Diet (A Week-Long DCF Special): Days 1 & 2

posted by in Recipes

Four days straight of short posts from the bread workshop I’m attending this week.

The 5-Day Bread Diet: Days 1 & 2
The 5-Day Bread Diet: Day 3
The 5-Day Bread Diet: Day 4
The 5-Day Bread Diet: Day 5

My bread love is well-documented on this blog – the number of recipes I’ve shared for bread alone is tremendous, and I’ve also talked about the kinds of bread I like. I taught myself to make bread when I was in culinary school and this is the first time I’ve ever taken a bread-making class. Now I get to see if what I taught myself and what I’ve been doing all these years is correct. Baking is important to me and this time, I want to know more about bread and baking it better.

Being at this intensive bread baking workshop (hands-on; 5 days straight, 9 hours per day) makes me feel like I’m back in culinary school: the classroom setup, the work stations, and the different kinds of personalities found there. But that’s another story. It almost feels like a strange homecoming of sorts for me, this baking lab; the cool, recycled air thick with the smells of baking bread (the most fragrant smell in the world, in my opinion – the bread, not the recycled air) and the frenetic activity coupled with aching feet and sore backs.

This week, my days start even earlier than they usually do – I’ve got to get my workout and breakfast in before I go dashing out the door at 7:45am. I don’t get home until after 6pm. After a full day of humoring yeast and kneading bread dough, I’m tired and smell like butter, but I feel extremely fulfilled. I’ve eaten nothing but bread the past two days and I’m starved for protein but there’s always next week.

I’ll only reveal on Friday where I’m taking this workshop and who my chef-instructor is. You may probably already guess from the photos but hey, I’m not wrecking the surprise.

Day 1: Art & Science of Bread Baking, Quick Breads vs Yeast Breads

Every workshop begins with the basics and bread is no different. After a lengthy lecture on the bread making process, the class is divided into groups, each one responsible for making various types of quick breads. These breads – muffins, scones, and the like, are called so because they’re chemically leavened (with baking powder/soda).

Making fruit scones.
The fruit scones, baked with burnished edges.
Various scones and biscuits.

Day 2: Yeast Breads: Straight vs Sponge Method, Lean Vs Rich Dough

A sponge is a mixture composed of water, flour, and yeast that’s allowed to sit (pre-ferment) for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours before it’s added to a yeast dough. It jumpstarts the fermentation process and improves the flavor of the bread. There’s the sponge (top row, middle) for the ensaymada that I’m making today.
This is my very first time to make ensaymada and I’m thrilled. But it’s a soft and sticky dough that resists being kneaded. I have to resist the temptation to add more flour. That blue plastic I’m holding is called a bench scraper or dough scraper. It’s a great help in lifting the dough from the work counter.
There’s my ensaymada proofing (final fermentation) on the bakers rack, coiled and sitting in its traditional molds. Below, some dinner rolls that another group made, golden in its egg yolk wash.
Today, I refined my technique for forming rolls. I’m baking them in a round pan so they’ll bake up in a circular shape, sort of like a flower. Next to it, my huge ensaymada done Malolos- style.
A group has baked panettone in cylindrical molds. This is a traditional festival Italian bread studded with dried fruits. It has a wonderful citrus note from orange zest.
Sprinkling powdered sugar on Stollen, a German bread made at Christmas. It’s loaded with dried fruits and nuts.

My Malolos-style ensaymada with “Dalmatian spots,” as my chef-instructor called it – I was so excited that I added the cheese too soon and so it burned. But I’m still so proud of what I did today, my ensaymada was soft and buttery – “… really Lori, what an ensaymada should taste like,” says one of my classmates. When I got home, I brushed the whole thing with more butter, added more sugar, topped it with queso de bola, and served it to my Bin and Boo. “5 out of 5, Mom,” Boo tells me.
”Beautifully formed, turned out really well,” my chef-instructor says of my dinner rolls. That compliment (and these rolls!) made my day.
A cross-section of my ensaymada. I want to perfect these in time for Christmas.
Just a little of the wealth of bread our class made today.

Tomorrow: Day 3 – Classic European Breads

11 Responses to “The 5-Day Bread Diet (A Week-Long DCF Special): Days 1 & 2”

  • A question I’ve had ever since: What do cooking classes, culinary schools, etc., do with their creations for the day? Do they eat all of it? Do they sell it? Do they get a crowd to taste it?

    Do you need volunteers? ;)


    Lori Reply:

    We divvy it all up at the end of day and bring it home to our hungry families :p But yes, there *is* so MUCH bread afterwards.


  • I missed the workshop again! :( Last year i checked the website on the day the workshop started.


  • As Dora placidly replies to her sister Kimmy when Ate castigates her for having “carbs on carbs on carbs”:

    “Walang basagan ng trip”

    The bread looks beautiful, fluffy and I’ll just content myself chewing on a rye cracker while I visually devour the post :)


  • Lori,

    Great-looking breads you made there(Perfect crumb on the ensaymada)!

    The most important lesson I’ve learned and taught all these years baking bread and teaching how to bake bread: the dough is the chef. You do what it wants you to do.

    Please give my best regards to my good friend Gene (the pictures gave it away).


  • Lori,

    Was just thinking I want to try a bread class after going to a fondant making class. Looks like the class is fun. Is it a commercial bread making class using huge bakery equipments or just the trusty kitchen aide? Good looking breads, btw.


    Lori Reply:

    We used an industrial size mixer for some of the breads but any regular stand mixer will do.


  • Wow!! I wish I can learn this too. I love bread more than rice. Haha!


  • Hi Lori!

    Reading your blog makes me want to take their June bread making class. With regards to your panettone, did you guys used containers from milk cans? Just curious.

    More Powers!


    Lori Reply:

    Yes, we used old milk cans to bake the panettone.


  • Hi Lori, beautiful looking breads!
    Can you please recommend a good place to buy different kinds of flour like bread, unbleached, cake, and all purpose? I’m planning to bake bread and want to start of with great ingredients! Thanks!


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