Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Star in the Yeast

Since I enjoy teaching cooking classes at Today's Kitchen Store so much, I let the owners and the kitchen manager persuade me into scheduling a few baking classes. Yesterday I kicked off a month-long flurry of sharing my baking techniques with a class on holiday yeast breads.

Now, a baking class is a very different animal than the seasonal produce classes I had taught so far. Given the same time frame -- 1 1/2 hours -- and a menu of three different yeast breads, I had to do some juggling to cover everything. Because as any baker knows, you just can't rush yeast.

I went into class with one dough (a no-knead artisan dough) already made and the liquid heated for the other two items on the agenda. But I still miscalculated and ended up not serving two of the breads until the 2-hour mark -- with some major idle times in the class in between.

Overall, the reception of the class -- eight participants who had lots of good questions -- was great, and they enjoyed the finished products. I was able to use the times when doughs were rising to have everyone introduce themselves and talk about their holiday baking specialties or to open the floor for questions and troubleshooting. But I will definitely have to restructure my class plans -- and prep! -- before the next yeast bread class so that we're not spinning our wheels so much.

I didn't bother with my own photos this time, because once you've seen one photo of a bowl of flour, you've seen them all. But Rick, the co-owner and self-appointed class photographer, posted the photos he took on Facebook. I took the liberty of adding one here so you can get the general idea of how I operate in a class.

While it wasn't my best class to date, I learned a lot from it and will definitely have an improved plan and more research under my belt before I teach a class on kneaded versus no-knead breads in January.

And I'm getting more ideas for future classes, too!

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