A few weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a baking class at the Battenkill Kitchen in my adopted town of Salem, NY. The class was taught by Zoe Francois of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day fame, a book that I have and love. The class I chose to take was using recipes from the newer book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Same principal as the first book but using whole grains.
The Battenkill Kitchen http://www.battenkillkitchen.org/index.html is a non profit 800 square foot commercial kitchen facility that is available to the community on an hourly basis and also available to host events. And they have an awesome Garland restaurant stove that I totally covet.
Oh yeah- 6 burners, 2 ovens and a griddle on the side. I want. I yearn for one of those like some women do for designer handbags and Manolos. Sigh. One day.
I learned a lot from taking the class, some of it was about bread but some of it was about myself as a blogger. It’s nerve wracking going into a situation like this and asking if you can take pictures to document it for your blog. I found myself really hesitant and nervous about snapping pics even though I had asked permission and everyone seemed okay with it. As a result, I didn’t get very good pictures. My action shots always managed to capture someone with a funny look on their face. I’m not sure how to handle that in the future. But I’m supposed to be talking about bread! So let’s do so…
The class started out with Zoe giving a talk and explaining how the whole book project came about and then morphed into a second book. She demonstrated some techniques for mixing the dough and shaping loaves and then we were given a list of things to make and divided into groups of 4.
The members of my group watching as Zoe demonstrates stretching pizza dough with chef Suvir Saran in the back doing a little photo documentation of his own. The older gentleman to the right of Zoe is Jerry, he’s taken TEN classes at King Arthur flour and had a love of baking that was admirable. I wish I’d had more of a chance to hear his story.
Our group was assigned four things to make. We mixed a batch of dough to get a feel for what it should be like and then from dough that was premade my Zoe and friends, we made a baguette (and I made a Pain d’Epi), made bagels, pizzas and doughnuts! The doughnuts were made from a whole wheat brioche dough which was fabulous. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from them, I mean…whole wheat doughnuts? But they were good! Though, if I knew we were going to be filling them with jam, I would have brought some of my homemade jam. Smuckers has nothing on my jam.
See that sexy pizza bubble on there? I ate that. Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and pepperoni. I don’t know who sourced out all the ingredients for pizza toppings but everything was top notch and delicious. One of the pizzas we made even had olives on it and I normally loathe olives but I inadvertently ate one and it was delicious.
Pesto, goat cheese, sweet yellow peppers, caramelized onions from Suvir Saran (what do I have to do to get that recipe???) and the aforementioned black olives. Obviously so delicious that it was almost gone before I thought to get a picture.
and the class gets interesting…I won’t blame my drinking three glasses of wine on Zoe telling us to let the dough relax and stop fiddling with it but I had to do something while the dough was relaxing! That’s my pain d’Epi that I almost forgot in the oven. It was lovely, I love how the bread breaks off into individual pieces. Beauty and function.
Panzanella, a fabulous way to use up leftover bread. There were lots of goodies to eat and snack on. Aside from the things we made ourselves, there was soup from Suvir Suran along with a lovely, silky hummus. By the end of the class I was quite full and maybe a little drunk. We all took home small bowls of dough from the class and I took home my pain d’Epi.
I was thinking the kitchen would be fabulous to rent out with a group of interested foodies and maybe have a cooking class or demonstration from a local chef. Such a great space, so many possibilities…