(Please forgive the photo quality – they were taken on my phone)
On Saturday I took a class at Nothing To It! (which is a great place to take cooking classes this was my second class with them). My dad gave me the book Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day (you have probably seen it in my list of cookbooks I use/read and I mentioned it in my Ciabatta post). Several weeks ago I saw that he was actually teaching a class at Nothing To It, what coincidence! So I signed up right away! Lucky I did because looking at his schedule, his other classes on the West Coast have filled up and there were several out-of-towners in our class. There were 60 people in the class and that’s pretty significant for the small cooking school in small town Reno.
The class was great. I learned a lot and just watching an expert make bread is a great experience. To watch Peter mix, shape and bake the bread is a lesson on it’s own. But he also shared tips and knowledge he picked up during his years of experiences being a baker – owning a bakery, writing cookbooks and now teaching. As well as sharing the science of bread. In fact I could probably use a few classes of this information!- he teaches at Johnson and Wales.
A Couple of the many things I took away from this class:
Oil instead of butter! Peter mentioned that he started using oil and has found the dough is more supple. So I will be trying this out.
High altitude baking – water boils at a lower temp, which means you can reduce the oven temps. We (those of us here in Carson) are only at 4500 ft so it’s not a huge difference and we probably don’t need to do this. However, since our climate is drier – and higher altitude environments are generally drier – it may require us to use more water in some recipes. AH HA moment! hence my Babka recipe blunder! I thought the dough was too dry but didn’t think I could add more water without compromising the dough. I was prepared to ask him if he would add more water to some of the recipes since we have a drier environment, but that was the first question that came up in the class! Guess I wasn’t the only one with that problem!!! My biggest babka problem was that it was not cooked through. I thought I used too much chocolate which resulted in it being undercooked, well this was the bread that Peter had to keep checking in class and it went back in the oven several times! While it seems to brown fast it didn’t burn like I thought it would so I should have just kept baking it – now I know.
Next Peter demonstrated how to do a 6 braid Challa (pronounced hall-a, which makes me think of that Gwen Stefani song…holla back girl! LOL)! Instructions for braiding are pretty intimidating, but much easier to absorb when you get to see it done first hand!
While the enriched doughs (Challa, brioche) and sweat breads are super good, my favorites are definitely the lean doughs. The nutty, crusty breads have always been my favorite, well before I got started making bread. So my favorites are ciabattas, batards, boules and the like. However, the sticky buns are fantastic. Peter made three different stucky buns and my favorite was the cranberry pecan – those of you who eat my food will be having this sometime soon! There was much more I learned that will help me in my bread making adventures! I feel more confident that while bread recipes are so scientific, I have more room to play around with than I thought. So I’m going to be BRAVE in my bread making now! LOL I tell my daughter to “be brave” whenever she is scared…
This is the worst photo of me but I’m going to post it anyway because it’s all I have. It was a great class and I can’t wait to start making more bread!