A Perfectly Old and Crusty Culinary Class: Artisan Breads

In the Pantry

Bread has been a dietary staple for many cultures over the years, and the importance of affordable, well-made bread is reflected in a number of laws passed throughout history, according to History Magazine. For example, in England in 1266, a law was passed that fixed the price a baker could charge for bread. The law remained in place for over 600 years and wasn't the only law of its kind. Bakers were hanged in Turkey for too-high bread prices, and England and Egypt passed laws in the Middle Ages with severe punishments for bakers selling faulty bread. Today's bakers may forfeit repeat customers instead of facing the pillory, but bread is no less important today.

Baking Pastry Arts

Artisan breads are breads that are crafted instead of commercially produced. Making these breads is both a science and an art, which is why some culinary arts degree programs dedicate an entire course to their craft.

What to Expect in an Artisan Breads Class

If you're enrolled in culinary degree program, a specialty breads or artisan breads class typically won't be among the first chef classes you'll take. You may have an introductory baking methods or ingredients class that serves as a prerequisite for a specialty breads course. In your speciality breads course, you'll learn to prepare:

  • Lean, rich and sour dough breads
  • Bagels, pretzels, regional and ethnic breads
  • Holiday and seasonal breads

You'll also get instruction on innovative baking methods and learn how to mix, shape, and finish specialty breads. You may have noticed that some types of breads always look the same. This is because there are a number of classic artisan bread shapes that bakers must master. You'll also learn how to stencil dough and to use it decoratively.

The Science of Artisan Bread

Making one loaf may seem manageable, but how can you make sure you get great results every time, no matter how many loaves you're baking or no matter which flour you choose? That's exactly why you'll learn both math and science in culinary school. You'll learn how to properly measure ingredients, how to scale them, and how to properly convert a recipe. For breads, this can be tricky when you start to substitute flours with different properties.

For example, wheat flours must be substituted based on weight rather than volume, but even then a baker must know the properties of the specific wheat in order to properly adjust a recipe. Hard and soft wheat have different levels of protein content, which can affect the weight of the flour and the density of the dough and resulting product.

Chemistry is also an integral part of baking bread. If you've never paused to consider the difference between single-acting and double-acting baking powder, you haven't even scratched the surface of baking and chemistry. What do you do if the batter is thick? How does altitude affect the amount of CO2 required for baking? A variety of factors affect how you use a single ingredient such as baking powder, even before you introduce all the other ingredients and factors of bread making.

Intensive culinary courses in baking are designed to teach you all the factors affecting dough so that you can recognize faults and correct them quickly. Even if bakers aren't facing the pillory, expert bakers are tasked with producing an excellent product with consistent results.

About the Author:

Browse Baking and Pastry Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Baking & Pastry (AS)
            • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
            • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
            • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Professional Pastry Arts
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            Techniques and Art of Professional Cake Decorating
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Cooking & Catering
            • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
            • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
            • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104