Friday, June 10, 2011

King Arthur Flour -Day 1: Yeast Breads

It has been said that those who bake rarely cook, and that those who cook rarely bake.  The process for each are entirely different from each other.  Baking includes precise measurements, and following directions- perfect for an organized person.  Cooking, however, is less precise, an error is easily rectified, and the boundaries are much looser.  I fall into the "cooks" category.  I haphazardly throw ingredients together, a little of this, a little of that, and hope for the best.  I rarely follow directions.  So, I'm sure you can imagine my stress levels when I am faced with the need to bake.  My measuring containers are lacking, and I rarely have the needed ingredients.  This past weekend I was invited to attend several classes at the King Arthur Flour factory in Norwich, Vermont.  I leaped (literally) at the opportunity to familiarize myself with the principles of baking, and become more comfortable with the processes.

My excitement grew for weeks as the date of the "Blog and Bake" as it was termed came near.  I must admit a bit of my fears came to a head as well.  I have made simple breads before, but it takes me hours to make them since I read the instructions 100 times, would I be too slow?  Pie crust was on the itinerary- I didn't even want to touch pie crust with all that butter and temperature monitoring!  Pizza dough was the next big topic- I'll admit- concern about learning pizza dough was far more for my waistline than anything ;-). 

DAY 1:

Mise en place in the baking world- add all ingredients before
stirring so you know what's been added
 We began our first day of classes concentrating on yeast breads.  The staff at King Arthur Flour didn't just walk us through the process of putting together a bread and letting it rise, on the contrary, they gave us step by step instructions, including tips on how to measure flour- shake in flour to properly aerate it, and then level it for best accuracy- and why luke warm water is best for yeast- too hot and you'll kill it-, but they also gave us detailed, yet understandable descriptions as to the chemical reactions that take place in the dough.  These descriptions made it easier to understand why yeast breads behave the way they do, and, in my opinion, made it easier to comprehend and apply.  As a beginner baker with pretty limited experience- this class was perfect.  

Sure enough, when we were sent back to our stations to make bread, I whipped through making my dough, and then, when it was set aside, it rose up just as it was supposed to.  After just a bit of kneading, we divided the bread into two parts, and made a loaf out of one, and braided the other side to really get a feel for different types of breads.  Two gorgeous loaves of perfect white bread were mine, and I immediately started dreaming of a piece of toast with butter lightly melting over it. 

Mmmmm bread....

With my bread making fears tackled- I was ready to dive into the rest of our course work.  To come- a dive into flour- which to use when, and what the differences are, a look at "quick breads" with one of my favorite baked goods of all time- the scone, pizza dough, pie crusts, and a cooking demo by a very special chef!


King Arthur Flour assembled a wonderful group of bloggers to attend this two day course- there are some wonderful posts being written about it- please be sure to check them out as well.

Aimee: The Apron Archives

Amber: Bluebonnets and Brownies

Casey: Good. Food. Stories.

Corin: Vermont’s Seven Days

Donna: Cookistry

Glenda: Busy-at-Home

Jen: Savor the Thyme

Kelsey: The Naptime Chef

Maryellen: Love and Scraps

Jean and Bonnie editors from the Northeast Flavor Magazine, an beautiful new print magazine, which just published its third edition.  Jump on this now!


Amber | Bluebonnets and Brownies said...

For me, the mise en place before stirring was a head slapping moment. WHY didn't I think of that before?! It was so great learning, baking, and hanging with you, Fi! I hope we get to do more of each sometime.

elizabeyta said...

I have been baking since I was about eight. Know that yeasted doughs are much more forgiving then regular baked goods. My Beloved was surprised with how forgiving when I taught him to bake bread. Your description of cooking is how I bake yeasted breads.

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Both breads looks perfect - well done! Be sure to share how you made those incredible looking pastries at the top :)

Michelle Collins said...

Those breads look divine! Can't wait to see more recaps!

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

Everyone's bread looked so professional - you'd never know there were a bunch of beginning bakers in that room!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

How cool! I've never made bread and definitely want to give it a shot someday. So nice seeing you the other night!

Jen said...

Your breads look BEAUTIFUL! Want to share? Glad you were able to get over some of your fears while there. They are the experts, so there's no one better to learn from.

Linda@RSY said...

What a great opportunity! So glad you've conquered your fear of bread making!!

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