All day rye breads class
The Culinary Center of Kansas City was rocking in the rye this past Friday, when I had the privilege of teaching another full-day class on rye breads. It was a lot of fun to work with a group of students who were eager to learn and had lots of great questions about everything from flour to techniques. We made three different breads: the Rustic Pumpernickel from ITJB, Eric’s Fave Rye, and a Vort Limpa that I customized from various on-line sources.
However, before the class, there was preparation. And before preparation, there was shopping.
Based on early registrations, it was apparent that this was going to be a large class. Consequently, I decided to order 50 pounds of Great River Milling’s whole rye flour, via Amazon. The rest of the need was made up with Hodgson Mills rye flour which is available in local supermarkets. And, since the need was there, I also ordered 50 pounds of Great River Milling’s Unbleached Wheat Bread Flour. The GRM rye flour is a whole rye, very finely milled, and light tan in color. It contrasts with the HM rye flour, which is also whole rye, but coarsely ground with particle sizes ranging from dust to large flecks of bran and slightly gray in color. The GRM rye works very well in deli rye breads (such as Eric’s Fave Rye) or others that call for medium rye while the HM rye works well in pumpernickels. The GRM Unbleached Wheat Bread Flour turned out to be unlike anything that I have used previously and I mean that in a good way. It contains the endosperm, the germ, and 20% of the bran. It is a pale tan color and also very finely milled. At 14% protein content, I thought it would make a good stand-in for first clear flour and it worked admirably in that context. While I doubt that I will buy more, the decision is driven entirely by price. At $1.20/pound, it’s over-priced in my estimation, especially when I can get Wheat Montana flours locally that are of comparable quality for less.
Since two of the breads require a rye sour, each at a different hydration level, both of those had to be built in the days preceding the class. The Rustic Pumpernickel also requires a scald. Combined, the scald + sour for the pumpernickel were nearly 50 pounds for this class. That’s a lot of prep work to do, not to mention material to tote, so I may need to offer different breads for the next class.
If you saw my guest post on Stan’s blog, you already know that I made a world-class blunder with the pumpernickel that I prepared ahead of class. You can read about it here.
This class was held in the ‘big’ kitchen at CCKC, which was my first time to utilize that part of the facility. That brought a few challenges, simply because things were in different places. We got through it just fine, though, with a lot more laughter than frustration. There were a couple of things that could be done better, now that I know the flow of the room, such as placement of ingredient stations for easy access, so we’ll do those better next time. Oven management presented some challenges, too, but more from the perspective of understanding each one’s behavior. Again, now I know, so I can adjust in the future.
The students were a fun bunch. They were eager to get their hands in the goop and I made sure that they did. They had some great questions, too, which helped bring out more information and a better understanding of things than would have occurred to me to mention. Fuzzy Whiskers, a TFLer, and her daughter both attended. I hadn’t seen either of them since the KC TFL meet-up in early 2012 that Postal Grunt engineered. We wound up having a lovely visit as we waited for the last of the breads (theirs, coincidentally) to come out of the oven.
Based on some informal polling during lunch, the hands-down favorite (volumetrically speaking) was Eric’s Fave Rye, in no small part because of its sandwich-friendly characteristics. The Vort Limpa was a hit for most because of its flavor. The thing has beer, orange zest and juice, molasses, anise, fennel, and cardamom in it. That’s a flavor bomb by any definition. The pumpernickel was much enjoyed but I think its popularity suffered in part because of most Americans’ preference for lighter breads.
All in all, it was a very satisfying and enjoyable day. The only thing remaining was to pack up my things, put them in the truck, and head back to the house for a few hours rest before picking up our youngest daughter and her children at the airport. Which tells you why I haven’t posted sooner.
Next up: a scones class on August 3.