You have to give me credit; I’ve been doing pretty well in my battle against bread yeast. I won on the pizza dough and tied on the oatmeal molasses bread, but I still needed a competitive advantage. My parents always said that if I did well in school, I would go far. So, I took their advice (for the first time in my life) and went to bread making class at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School.
First, let me just say that bread making class was far better than any other education I’ve received because it was fun, they fed me amazing food and let me drink wine. If only grad school was that good!
The set up was amazing. Even though my friends and I arrived fashionably late and had to sit in the back, we still had a fantastic view thanks to the bright lighting and two large-screen TVs that captured baker Mary Ann Kane-Nudd’s every move. I felt like I was watching a live cooking show!
Before class started, I made my rounds to the front of the room to soak in all the bread we would be learning how to make…
Amazingly, all of these products were made with one single sweet dough recipe. Can you imagine me making those sticky buns or bread that isn’t flat?? You remember how my cinnamon rolls looked, right? I knew I needed every second of this class.
One of the things that I loved about the experience was that it was not interactive. That’s right, I didn’t have to lift a finger. Not only did I keep flour out of my hair, but I was able to sit back, take notes, relax and laugh. The great instruction from Mary Ann and the great view of the process was exactly what I needed. I took diligent notes so that I could replicate the same bread beauty in my own kitchen.
Wine makes note taking much more fun. Oh, and so does food. When we saw this plate coming toward us, we thought it was for the whole table to share. Nope; we each got one!
So, what did I learn? Here are a few sound bites that really stuck with me:
- Even if you aren’t making sweet dough, add a bit of sugar to your dissolving yeast. Sugar feeds the yeast and helps it dissolve faster.
- Temperature has an effect on the amount of flour that you need. For example, you might need more flour if your kitchen is hot and humid. So, it is important to add your flour gradually. Focus less on measuring the flour and more on feeling the consistency of the dough.
- Not sure when the consistency feels right? Me neither. But I learned that the consistency is right when you are kneading and the dough no longer sticks to the counter or your hands without adding more flour. You should be able to poke your finger in it without a sticky mess coming back out (don’t worry, this dough wasn’t baked after we all touched it!).
- If you don’t put salt in the bread dough, the bread won’t brown. Oh, and add the salt last, just before you add flour because salt slows down yeast’s progression.
- Your dough has risen enough if you stick your finger in the dough and it doesn’t pop back up when you remove your finger.
- When rolling dough (like for cinnamon rolls or pizza dough), make sure to let it relax. If the dough keeps shrinking back, let it sit for a minute; the dough will relax and then you can roll it out some more!
With the single dough recipe, we watched Mary Ann make stollen, challah, a Swedish tea ring, monkey bread, cinnamon rolls, and sticky buns. It was amazing. Now all I have to do is try this recipe at home and test all of my new skills. Bread yeast has nothing on me now!
Have you ever taken a cooking class? It was so much fun that I would like to take everyone I know. If you live anywhere York, Maine (or even 4 hours away like I do), it’s worth taking the trip to Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. If you go, let me know and I will meet you there!