I would like you to believe that I am wedded to the Mediterranean diet, but everyone needs to sin occasionally. Over the last four days, I sinned grievously at a baking class at King Arthur Flour entitled “Pastry: Principles & Practice at King Arthur Flour.
I joined my sister-in-law Alison for a wonderful hands-on baking class at King Arthur’s baking facilities in Norwich, VT. Classes are available almost daily throughout the year and I would encourage anyone who is remotely interested in baking to attend one of these delightful classes (kids are also welcome).
While I am an experienced cook, I don’t bake very often anymore. As such, it was wonderful to learn from truly experienced pastry chefs on both the theory and practice of baking properly. Classes were from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day and were broken down as follows:
- Day 1 – Pastry
- Day 2 – Pate a Choux (eclairs, puffed pastries, pastry creams)
- Day 3 – Creaming (bar cookies and cakes)
- Day 4 – Meringues and icing cakes
The big revelation to me was that the professionals at King Arthur tend to weigh everything rather than measuring ingredients by volume (Tbsp and Cups). This is surely a more precise way of cooking and one that I will now incorporate into my own cooking. I will spare you theory of fine baking, but like most everything, there is far more than meets the eye and learning “the theory” certainly helps us become better cooks.
Before one of the afternoon classes, I joined my sister-in-law Alison to have a lesson with Certified Master Baker Jeffrey Hamelman on the art of making a baguette. Personally, I can think of few challenges more difficult that making a “proper” baguette which consist of only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and a bit of yeast. For those interested in delving into the intricacies of making bread, I refer you to Alison’s detailed recipe for making Traveling Crusty Artisan Bread.
All-in-all, it was a wonderful experience and I heartily recommend the journey to any aspiring baker. Also, a warm hug for all of the wonderful people at King Arthur who continue to make baking such a joy.