Sunday, January 15, 2012

Filling a Knead

As I started to pick up steam in teaching cooking classes at Today's Kitchen Store, the kitchen manager asked if I could offer some classes on baking with whole grains. I pondered it for a bit, then said, "Sure!" I scheduled two classes to start the New Year -- one on the difference between traditional kneaded doughs and the new no-knead breads, and one on the difference between wheat and spelt.

I spent a good bit of time researching the whys behind bread baking, and I ended up learning quite a lot that I was then able to share with the classes. Reading up on the mechanics of gluten development gave me a clearer understanding of how yeast doughs work -- and helped me explain it better. And did you know that spelt has four times the fiber of wheat? Well, I know now.

I arranged the classes to be hands-on for the students since I really wanted them to get a tactile sense of the differences I talked about, from the raw dough right out of the mixer to kneaded dough and then the final loaves. It certainly seemed to help them grasp the nuances between the different recipes (in week 1) and grains (week 2).

For the Need to Knead? class, we made a traditional wheat sandwich loaf and two different no-knead wheat loaves (about half whole wheat in each case). My timing was not perfect -- the sandwich loaves, though I had given them a bit of a head start, weren't quite done before the end of class -- but most of the students were able and willing to linger for a taste of the final batch.

I organized my prep a little better for the Wheat vs. Spelt class, getting the sandwich loaves into the oven well before class began. By the end of the hour and a half, they were able to sample fresh wheat and spelt breads, pizza made with wheat or spelt crusts, and wheat and spelt crackers. (In the photo above, the wheat bread is on the plate while I slice the spelt.)

(More photos from each class are at the links, on the TKS Facebook page.)

The participants all seemed excited and ready to go home and bake more bread, which, really, was my hope. (Though I think there will still be a couple who buy my bread at the market.) And I think I might just have to come up with other whole grain baking classes, because I had a lot of fun.

And because, you know, someone kneads to do it...

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