Baking with Mike

Last weekend, I had a chance to take a bread making class with Mike the Baker.  Also known as Mike Zakowski or the Bejkr, he is an international award winning baker who sells his beautiful breads each week at the Farmer’s Market in Sonoma, California.  Most of the time, his classes are on a weekday, but last weekend it was on a Saturday afternoon and a great excuse for me to make a quick getaway up north.

To start the class off, we got to get up close and personal with all the different grains he uses.  From farro to Einkorn, he only uses the best quality stuff.

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He had premade his sourdough starter so that we could hit the ground running in making our dough for the class.  According to Mike, bread making is both a science and a craft, as all the dry and wet ingredients are weighed to their precise amount.

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The recipe used was one that he has refined over time and it was so awesome to see how at ease yet exact he was with the process.

He showed us how to fold the dough in the baking trough, as we watched the dough rise.  Timers were set to make sure we give the right amount of time for the dough to rest in between folds.  It was awesome.

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Mike had pre-made some dough beforehand to bake during class.

IMG_8564  Making bread dough takes time, with all the resting and rising.  The one he made during class was for us to take home!

He taught us how to use everyday things, like gutter covers and vent screens, as stencils to decorate the dough:

IMG_8566IMG_8571  You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to make something beautiful.  And don’t forget the score the bread before putting in the oven so that it doesn’t explode at it’s weakest point!

With an hour left in class, it was time to take the premade bread out of the oven.

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We let it rest and cool before cutting it up to eat.  The result?  A beautiful and delicious piece of bread like none I have ever tasted before!  Makes me want to take every Friday off to go up to Sonoma to see Mike at the market!

http://www.thebejkr.com/

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