This past weekend I crossed something off my bucket list: learn how to make bread! My boyfriend Matt's parents bought me an extremely thoughtful gift certificate to King Arthur Flour (affectionately called KAF by Dartmouth students) for Christmas, and I finally got to use it. KAF is right over the river from us in Norwich, VT and is a renowned brand in the baking world. It's safe to say that this was one of the hands-down best gifts I've ever received. Matt and I both took the class and left laden with 6 loaves of bread and 8 scones, and lots of knowledge that I can't wait to test out this summer in the kitchen. I'll be posting a recipe for bread sometime in the future, featuring secrets I learned from the true masters at KAF, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a little bit about our afternoon!
In four hours, we each made 2 loaves of Walter Sands' Basic White Bread (1 sandwich-shaped loaf, 1 braided loaf), Pane Siciliano (Sicilian Bread) made with semolina flour and a new ingredient I learned about, diastatic malt powder, as well as a batch of currant scones (with an amazingly concentrated orange vanilla extract). The class was so well-run and well-organized - we never felt rushed, the demos were super helpful, and we even got a free voucher for coffee or tea during our break! Our instructor and the instructor's assistant had clearly baked bread at home for many years and had valuable wisdom to share with us. I've taken a few cooking classes, and what I liked about this one was that I kept hearing "it won't say this in the cookbook, but..." and learning all of the sticky spots of a recipe (literally), advice on how to tell if you're done kneading your bread, and what can be modified are all huge benefits to learning how to make something as complex and intimidating as bread in person.
I feel like I needed to take a class to become comfortable enough to even begin to experiment with bread making at home. I'm looking forward to testing out whole wheat and multigrain bread options. Maybe we'll be able to transition to only homemade bread in our apartment next year if we get any good at this! Plus, we're also excited to try some variations on the scone recipe (the KAF cafe in the Dartmouth library has a bacon, cheddar, and scallion scone we want to try and replicate). Scones will be perfect for freezing for easy breakfasts on the go next year. I already froze some of our scones and they tasted crumbly in all the right ways heated up again for breakfast. Scones are also a perfect use for my FoodSaver (Read: Why Every Millennial Needs a FoodSaver)!
If you're wondering what we did with all that bread...we're working on it! We started off with french toast on Sunday morning and I've been eating lots of grilled cheeses. I brought two loaves to a dinner with friends (who appreciate good Italian bread, so I'm proud to have impressed them with my first-ever homemade loaves!). The plan for the last two loaves is as vehicles for consuming "beer cheese" - my signature appetizer of cheesy beer fondue. If that makes your mouth water, you should keep reading my blog, because I will definitely be sharing that recipe soon!
Do you want in? I highly recommend taking a class at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, VT. There are classes for every palette, from and pastries and cakes to pasta and enchiladas as well as for every attention span, from an afternoon to multi-day classes to kids classes. Friends have loved learning to make flaky, buttery croissants and raved about their time mastering the art of pizza. If you're looking to make a weekend of it, Hanover has been my home for four years and I have plenty of recommendations for you! You can keep up the culinary trend, too - we spent a Wednesday night this spring learning to make grilled local pork, grits, and fiddleheads at the Culinary Learning Center at the Lebanon Co-Op Food Store with Jason Merrill of Worthy Burger and Worthy Kitchen (both on must-visit lists while visiting the Upper Valley). This area has plenty of notable places to eat, beautiful wilderness to explore, and small town charm to absorb. Feel free to shoot me an email at themillennialmenu[at]gmail[dot]com if you're interested in planning a weekend (or longer!).
Now I'm looking forward to spending some time this summer experimenting in The Millennial Menu test kitchen (read: making a mess at in my mom's spotless kitchen). Subscribe to the blog to get updates when I post, including a future post about homemade bread making, featuring everything I learned from my class!