For Advanced Baking one day we had the honor of visiting the San Francisco Baking Institute. The facility started as a showroom for professional baking equipment. People would come from all over to test out the high capacity mixers, ovens, etc. But then there's was a lot of interest in the baking side of things (as opposed to the equipment side), so classes were formed. Nowadays the institute is a combination of education and production facility, though it still serves as a showroom. But also the masters of baking there get flown around the world to troubleshoot baking/equipment issues.
So first of all, the workrooms are giant and immaculate. This room is filled just with dough sheeters.
True the nature of it being a production facility, we got our hands dirty (well, just floured) rolling baguette.
Andy, tour guide and baking master, showed us around. After rolling baguettes we were shown to the wood-fired oven, which regularly sustains temperatures above 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It was no wonder that this naan bread he inserted into the oven (on a long wooden paddle) bubbled up pretty much immediately.
It was done in less than a minute (and devoured in roughly the same amount of time).
Then he inserted a rolled out piece of pita dough, which poofed up like magic after it went in. After he took it out we got to try our hand at rolling out and baking naan/pita.
Here's the pita I put in, burnt because of the extra seconds it spent the oven (too much traffic around the oven for me to take it out on time!).
After that we went back to the baguettes, which had proofed, and laid them out on the deck oven belt. We scored them (cut slits) and sent them into the oven.
They came out nice and crispy-crusted, and as an extra surprise we got to take all of it home :)
I signed up to volunteer with the bread-making class this summer, and hopefully there will be more opportunities down the road!