Sourdough Home

“I understand the big food companies are developing a tearless onion. I think they can do it – after all, they’ve already given us tasteless bread.”

— Robert Orben

Class Descriptions

At this time, our class offerings are heavily slanted towards bread classes, but we are adding other classes as demand and time allow. If you don't see a class you'd like to take, please use the contact us page and tell us about the class you'd like to see us offer. We'll think about it, and if we decide to offer it and you were the first to suggest it, we'll let you take it free.

If you want a special class, check out our information on retreats and workshops.

With each class, you'll get a cookbook that Mike wrote for the class. Each cookbook comes with Our Limited Lifetime Subscription of free updates. When we re-offer the class with new recipes, you'll get the new recipes in email intray.

With that out of the way, here's a list of our classes.

Introduction to Sourdough Bread Baking - while this class was aimed at people who have some breadA San Francisco style Sourdough Bread baking experience, we've found people who've never touched dough also do just fine.

We'll take your bread making skills to the next level, teaching you how to make good breads with sourdough. You'll make two or three kinds of sourdough breads, and a sourdough pizza for lunch. You'll learn how to care for a starter, how to feed a starter, how to tell when your starter is ready for use and how to convert existing recipes into sourdough recipes.

You'll take home the breads you baked, dough to bake after you get home, your pizza leftovers, our very popular sourdough cookbook, and a jar of sourdough starter so you can put your skills to work at home. This class is a 4 to 6 hour class, depending on how the dough cooperates.

BaA lovely poolish based bread - bursting with flavorking With Preferments (formerly - Mastering Flavorful Breads) Several baking teachers have said the baker's job is to unlock the flavor in the ingredients. In this class, you'll learn how to use preferments to shatter the lock!

We'll focus on pre-ferments, which are a great technique that lets a baker unlock the flavors in the ingredients and make breads that are vibrant with flavor. You'll learn how to make autolyse, biga and poolish. You'll learn what those words mean. You'll learn how to convert existing recipes into recipes that use pre-ferements. We'll revisit sourdough and examine it a bit more. You'll make three different breads using different pre-ferments.

At the end of the class, you'll go home with the breads you made, your pizza leftovers, and our very popular "Advanced Baking Techniques with Preferments" cookbook. This is a fun, 4 to 6 hour class. At the end of it, you'll feel pretty good about all you did and all you learned!

BagelMania! - Oh, the bagels you'll make! Classic dense, chewy New York Style bagels, the kind that haveA plate of lovely bagels been harder and harder to find as the old bagel makers retire, leaving the city at the mercy of people who make sweet, soft, texture-less things that resemble doughnuts more than bagels. People like Lender's and H&H.

At the end of the class, you'll go home with bagels we baked in class, bagel dough you made in class to boil and bake, our very popular "Back To Bagels" cookbook, and perhaps some of the schmears we make in class.

One of our students told us his family thinks he's a "bagel god" now. Perhaps you'll join the ranks of Bagel deities too! This is a fun 4 hour class.

Afternoon tea - a civilized custom for an uncivilized age Afternoon Tea With The Avery's - some people say afternoon tea is an English affair. Others say it is more an American event. I really don't care. I intend to enjoy afternoon tea even if it was introduced by Bugs Bunny's buddy Marvin the Martian! It's civilized, it's elegant, and most of all it's fun.

Afternoon tea is a light meal - finger sandwiches, biscuits (or cookies to us Americans) and other sweets. Tea will, of course, be served. The idea is more of an elegant afternoon snack than a meal.

In this class, we'll bake some nice white bread, some nice biscuits (cookies if you prefer), make some curd, prepare ingredients, and then make finger sandwiches with our fresh bread. We'll set the table properly, and then we'll make tea.

Once the preparations are finished, gentlemen will don jackets and ties (if they haven't already), we'll shoo off the servants so we can talk about anything we'd like and we'll have tea.

This is a 4 to 6 hour class, though it can take longer depending on how much people talk during tea. Remember to be civil... serious discussions of religion and politics are discouraged, but discussions of whose car is parked next door are fine, if presented with wit.

Chances are you won't take any food home, just some happy memories and a cookbook. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "Too much of anything is bad, but too much tea is just enough!" If you would like someone special to attend the tea with you, but not the class, please notify us before hand. If we have room, we will be glad to accommodate you, and your special someone. (The teatime shown is a very light tea, the next time we hold this class, we'll take a picture of the real thing, maybe even with real students in the picture!)

Simple Simon Became A Pieman - with spring, summer and fall come a bounty of fresh, local produce. Making pies is one of the wonderful things you can do with this produce! Luckily, we love to make pies!

Peaches, strawberries, blackberries, apples, cherries, rhubarb, grapes and apricots all have their day in the sun, and their days on our table. But there are so many kinds of pies to make! In colder months, we make savory pies both large and small. Pot pies or larger table pies filled with chicken, beef, vegetables and onions. Well, maybe not ALL those ingredients go into one pie, but savory pies are a true delight!

So, we offer this class when we can get great ingredients at local farmers markets. And then we make pies, tarts, tarte tatin, empanadas and more.

This class runs 4 to 6 hours. Due to the cost of ingredients, we should charge more for this class than we do. Still, you'll leave with pies, tarte tatins, empanadas and whatever other goodies we whip up.

We end the class with an afternoon coffee, a kaffe klatch if you will, with pies and whipped cream. And for those who have never whipped real cream, we demonstrate how to whip cream - once you've had the real thing, you'll never go back to the stuff in a can or tub.

Whole grain breads - Some people seem to think I'm a white bread kinda guy. Not at all. I just insist that wholeA whole wheat boule grain breads taste good or I won't eat them. It's not an unfair test, it's the same test I apply to all breads, and in fact all foods, that I eat. Food should be a pleasure, neither a penance nor a prescription.

So, in this class, we're going to focus on whole grain breads that taste good, ways to get a good rise out of whole grains and unlocking the flavor of the breads. We'll be revisiting a lot of familiar techniques from earlier classes and reapplying them to a new set of ingredients. If you love whole grains, or if you just have a dreary certainty that your life will be healthier if you eat them, you'll want to take this class! You'll go home with two or three breads you baked, the leftovers from your whole wheat pizza, my whole grain bread cookbook, and a fresh appreciation for whole grain breads.

Sometimes we offer a variation on this class where we mill all the whole grains ourselves. This class covers how to find good grain and get the most out of a stone grain mill.

A flax seed bread - great any time of day! Flavored Breads - I focus a lot on unlocking the flavors in flour to make rich flavorful breads. But there is a broader world beyond breads made with the "big 4" of flour, water, salt and riser.

Many grocery store bakeries call it a flavored bread if they drizzle something on top of the bread. All too often the bread is baked in a pie pan, and the bread doesn't even rise above the pie pan. Really, are we buying bread or a funky pie? In our classes, the breads are risen and bursting with flavors that can not be contained!

This is an accelerated class, so we'll start by baking some breads I prepared the night before, then you'll make a variety of flavored breads. Maybe a killer cinnamon raisin bread, a jalapeno-cheddar bread I call "Pepper Belly", a totally over the top garlic-cheddar bread I call "garlic head", maybe our signature flax seed bread, some amazingly seductive pecan cinnamon sticky buns, or some other flavored bread. You'll take home the three breads we baked in class, three more loaves to rise and bake at home, any leftovers from your Italian Appetizer Bread and my flavored breads cookbook. This will be a 4 to 6 hour class.

Holiday Baking - Have you ever noticed how many holidays have specific foods that are indelibly identified with holiday at a very visceral level? And each country and culture has its own culinary traditions.

In this constantly changing class, offered near many major holidays, we'll make Christmas, Lenten, Easter, and Thanksgiving specialties from around the world. Panetone, Stollen, Christmas cookies from around the world, figgy pudding and more. We're very open to suggestions for special holiday baked goods you remember and would like to make (if only Aunt Martha hadn't taken the recipe to the grave with her!)

We're still waffling about Halloween - most of the baked goods have been pretty cheesy - bad batter in a character pan covered with strangely colored icing. If we can find something that isn't cheesy (or that is cheesy but still cool), we'll reconsider Halloween. You'll take home three baked goods, plus leftovers from whatever seasonal meal we come up with for the holiday in question. Oh, yeah, AND the cookbook too. This should be a 4 to 6 hour class.

Sourdough quick-breadsSourdough walnut carrot pineapple muffins with a cream cheese frosting - oh my! and cakes - more often than not, people think about raising breads with sourdough as if it were another form of yeast. And it does that very well.

However, when sourdough starter gets very sour, it can be used with baking soda to make quick-breads and cakes, in much the same way as buttermilk and baking soda. In this class, we'll make a cake, some cupcakes, some muffins, and some biscuits. For lunch, we'll have biscuits and gravy (Mike will make his famous sausage gravy - there will be other biscuit fixin's for vegetarians.)

You'll take home the cake, muffins or cupcakes, and any of your leftover biscuits. And, yeah, the cookbook too. This should be a 4 to 6 hour class.

Rye bread - the king of breads! Rye breads - are a lot like Ford's. You either love 'em or hate 'em. I grew up with them and love them.

In this class, we'll make three rye breads and learn the techiques you need to master to make good rye breads. We'll make our deli rye, a sourdough swirly rye and a German mischbrot.

We'll talk about the kinds of rye flours that used to be available and how to find 'em or make do with what you can find. You'll leave with three loaves of rye bread you made and baked. Lunch will be a German rye bread soup that is very similar to French Onion Soup.

You'll also get a copy of our rye bread cookbook. This is a 4 to 6 hour class.

PIZZA LANDSLIDE! What do you call it when everyone in the class, including the instructor, makes three pizzas? We call it a pizza landslide! We may well be buried in pizza!

More seriously, we'll focus on how to make great pizza in your home oven, or on your grill. We'll learn how to make a number of different pizza doughs, and how to handle them. We'll learn how to make a great pizza sauce, and what to do if you just don't have the time to cook a sauce for hours.

We'll start by making and baking three pizzas each, then we'll make dough for you to take home to bake later, we'll talk about how to save dough for later, and we'll talk about how to top pizzas.

At this time, all the pizzas the students will make will be thin crust pizzas, through Mike may make a Chicago style double crusted pizza and/or a Detroit style pizza - the thicker pizzas just take too long to make part of the class.

We'll enjoy a number of our pizzas in class. You'll take home whatever is left of your pizzas, pizza dough to use at home, our Pizza Landslide cookbook, and a sourdough starter (if you want one). Kinda like lunch and a class. NO, EXACTLY like lunch and a class! We look forward to sharing pizza with you!

Flatbreads - in every part of the world, except here in the United States, the breads of the people are flatbreads. Naan, tortillas, pita bread, lavash bread, lavash crackers, and nan-e barbari are just scratching the surface. In this class, we'll make three of these breads, and we'll make a traditional lunch with one of these breads. You'll leave with three breads, a cookbook, and the certainty that you can make these breads at home. Easily, quickly and without special ovens or equipment. This is a 4 to 6 hour class.

German breads - I have to admit that I have a special place in my heart for German breads. Yeah, it's due to my mom. It was what I grew with. And I think it's a real pity that these breads are so frequently overlooked.

Most Americans tend to think "French" any time we think of good breads. But, there's a big world of great breads out there! Anyway..... we're going to make a grainy, seedy rye infused bread, a mixed wheat and rye bread, and what many people think is the signature bread of Germany, Brotchen.

For lunch, we'll have currywurst with Brotchen. (Please let us know if you're a vegetarian so we can get some vegetarian bratwurst for your lunch.}

You'll take home the breads you made and baked and the class cookbook. This is a 4 to 6 hour class.

French breads - are what most people think of when they think of fine breads. And French breads do an amazing job of delivering the taste of their ingredients. Many of the techniques French bakers use are copied around the world.

So, we're going to copy some French techniques and breads too. We'll make several varieties of baguettes, and a huge Miche. We'll focus on getting the dough right, we'll focus on how to form the baguettes so they are right - nice and straight. When it's not done well, the baguette looks like a snake that swallowed a rat. We work on avoiding that fate. Then we work on slashing the baguettes.

Lunch? I bet we can do something with the nice fresh baguettes we baked while the Miche is baking. You'll take home the baguettes you made, the miche, our cookbook and new skills. This is a 6 to 8 hour class.

Italian breads - at theirSemolina bread - earthy and wonderful best are delightful!

So, let's delight ourselves with a nice ciabatta, a few great focaccia, and another Italian bread - maybe a pane Siciliano like the one in the picture. We'll have ciabatta and olive oil and a flavored focaccia for lunch.

You'll take home the ciabatta, focaccia and other breads you made, any leftovers from lunch and your class cookbook. This is a 6 to 8 hour class.

Workshops and Retreats - whether you are looking for a fun afternoon with friends or co-workers, a multi-day team building exercise, or a spiritual retreat, we find that baking and breaking bread together helps meet those goals.

All our workshops and retreats are designed and brought together for your special needs, from the breads or other goods that are baked to the message that we impart. We can have retreats at our facilities or yours. We are happy to work with your spiritual advisors or management consultants to put together just the right event for you. Just use the "Contact Us" and let us know what you're looking for.

Our Limited Lifetime Subscription - Many people ask us what we mean by our "limited lifetime subscription." This subscription will entitle you to any and all updates we make to the book(s) you are subscribed to as long as we continue to update the books. We do not guarantee that there will be updates to the books, just that you will receive them if you fulfill the terms of the limited lifetime subscription.

If either you or we die, that is an obvious end to the subscription. We will not assign the subscription to your heirs and assigns, and can not guarantee that our heirs will continue this venture.

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This page was last updated on August 16, 2019