The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

And now, for something completely different . . .

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And now, for something completely different . . .

My wife has been an instructor in some women's groups recently that have had, as one component, some instruction in cooking.  She was a bit surprised to find just how much interest there was among the women who attended these sessions in learning more about cooking.  For some, it was an opportunity to expand their repertoire with new recipes or techniques.  For others, it was a chance to learn basic skills that they had not been taught previously.  


Based on those experiences, she has begun a series of classes in our home that will cover a range of topics; including meal planning, cooking and baking.  The first class met yesterday and I found myself instructing three students on the finer points of how to make a honey whole-wheat bread.  (My work schedule gives me every other Friday off.)  It's an old pattern; she has an idea and I have work.  ;-)  


We kept everything low key.  I had baked a loaf yesterday morning prior to class so that they could see and taste the finished product.  They got to see the differences in measuring by volume and measuring by weight, and were more than a little surprised to see that their normal measuring methods produced some significantly different quantities of flour, on a weight basis.  We allowed the whole wheat flour a short soak (not a true autolyse) and explained how that would affect the texture of the dough and the finished bread, as well as the amount of kneading that would be required.  We also covered the basic differences between enriched, straight doughs (yesterday's subject) and lean and delayed-fermentation doughs.  Although we weren't focusing on sourdough yesterday, I showed them my starter and explained some of the differences between naturally-yeasted and commercially-yeasted breads.  While their dough was rising, we sampled the finished bread that I had baked.  My wife also demonstrated some spreads and toppings that they could easily make, and provided those recipes.  By the time we were done, each student had mixed, kneaded and shaped their own loaf of bread, which they took  home to bake.  Although I stressed the importance of allowing the bread to cool to room temperature, one already e-mailed back to say that her loaf disappeared that same afternoon.  However, she is planning to make more!  


There's already talk about future classes for cinnamon rolls, pretzels, bagels, and sourdough.  We'll have to see how all of that plays out.  The good thing is that there are now more converts to baking their own bread at home.  And, yes, I pointed them to The Fresh Loaf as an excellent resource for additional information and help.


Paul

Comments

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I love that you are doing this...I have thought to myself so many times about having some of the neighbor ladies over to give a few pointers on just some fun baking and cooking...Im so amazed how many young women today have so few skills in the kitchen...things are different today...a lot of Moms are working...but you know that didn't stop me...I raised  2 children on my own!


Strawberries are here...everywhere...I made jam after picking some up fresh picked yesterday!  I give some to the neighbor ladies...none of them know how to make jam!  We have farmers markets, a fruit stand at the end of our road and all over the place!  I feel like they are so missing out!!



This only took a little while before dinner was made!  I need to make more but it's enjoyable and so I don't make work out of it....It is such a great idea what you are doing.....Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I posted a reply to your picture up above by accident. --Pamela

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

We, on the other hand, have been watching rain, then sleet, then snow today.  Just a reminder that winter in the Midwest isn't quite gone.  I had been intending to mow the grass again but it appears that I won't be getting to that for a day or two.  At least my new blueberry bushes don't appear to be any the worse for wear.


Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you Paul, I know there has been a lot of rough weather all over.  We are in a drought...they are saying to cut back on water use...or else!  If we cut back any more we will dry up and blow away!!  Oh, I wish I had blueberry bushes!  I won't post a picture of my blueberry pie ; )


Sylvia

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

so I'm making do with frozen berries from last year.  Thanks for not triggering a Pavlovian response in me with a photo of a pie.


A question for you: what are the two yellow fruits in the upper left-hand corner of your photograph?  Meyer lemons?  Quince?  Pear?


Paul

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I just noticed your post...sorry I took so long to anwswer.  Blueberry pie is my husbands favorite!  They are meyer lemons...I don't know why they get so large and usually have no seeds.  Growing up in the desert Im just amazed the way things grow in CA.  We have only been here a few years.  Im not much of a gardner so it's fun to say the least to stick something in the ground and it grows and grows usually year round!


Sylvia

hullaf's picture
hullaf

I agree, that's a wonderful project. Getting back to the basics and encouraging homemade foods seems to be a nice back-up to have for these economic times. And, tastes better too. . . Anet  

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Really nice, Sylvia! I like to make jam too and have learned how to do it without adding pectin. If you're interested let me know and I'll share the secrets of my French jam book. It even has recipes for jellies fruit candies, which would be great for Easter. Our farmer's market isn't in full swing yet up here in Northern CA.


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi pam I would love your recipe for the strawberry jam without pectin...I have made my own pectin before...or used apples in jams for the natural pectin!  What's the name of your book?  Sounds like a very nice book!  You can send it reply Message.


Thank you, Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Don't know why it has this title; the book is certainly not just about ice cream and candy. All the jam and jelly recipes in this book use a kind of delayed fermentation process instead of pectin. Do you want me to put it here or in a personal email? --Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi Pam, So we don't clog up Paul's great post...just send recipe in the message box..and I will also send my e-mail to you!


Sylvia

ehanner's picture
ehanner

What a great husband you are to support your wife in this manner. I get drawn into many projects the same way and they all end up being fun for her and she is proud her husband can contribute. I think a lot of guys miss this kind of opportunity. It sounds like you enjoyed the day as I'm sure she did. Way to go Paul.


Eric

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

does teach you a thing or two; not the least of which is the importance of saying "Yes, dear" at frequent intervals.  In truth, it was a lot of fun to see their interest and field their questions.  And momma is happy.  And so am I.


Paul

Oldcampcook's picture
Oldcampcook

Paul,


remember the old saying: "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!


Bob

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Bob,


The saying may be old, but the application is very much present-day.


Paul

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Sorry for the mix-up.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Paul, I think it's called "hornswoggled" into it, but in a nice sort of way. The number of people that have never received any training in basic cooking skills is amazingly high.  You may have more demand for the classes than you may even slightly suspect. . . ,


On the subject of jams a free downloadable copy of "Paul Richards" Pastry Book" of 1907 now available from Google Books here:


http://books.google.com/books?id=H4YPAAAAYAAJ&dq=Paul+Richards%27+Pastry+Book&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=sI0mGgaPtS&sig=QaBEvDwpueYf_bmOie3GGho...


It has a section on steam ovens for baking "Vienna" style bread that's interesting as is the use of hops in making bread yeast.  For jam and jelly makers it's a rich historical resource.


+Wild-Yeast

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

works as well as any other word.  ;-)


Sadly, a lot of people have also been hornswoggled into thinking that cooking from scratch, whether bread or jam or anything else, is "too complicated" or "too time-consuming" or "too inconvenient".  Guests used to rave about my mom's cooking.  Much as I love her, Mom is a very basic cook.  What makes her cooking stand out is a simple, direct approach to food that uses the freshest possible ingredients, many home-grown.  The things that people find enjoyable are already in the raw foods, even before Mom applies her abilities.  It's something that will never be found in a highly-process "convenience" food.


You may well be right about demand.  We'll see how that goes.


Thanks for your note.


Paul

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

That is a really nice thing to read about, Paul, a great service to your wife and the students both by sharing your baking wisdom, I'm sure you've really opened their eyes to how good food can really be, and how they can be more self-sufficient in making their own good food. As Anet said above, it is a great antidote for these times.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Isn't it wonderful how bread can be simple (well, mostly), delicious, and good for us; all at the same time?  The ladies who attended last Friday are now equipped to provide their families with something delightful.  Even better, they have the confidence from this success to go forward with other bread-making endeavors.  


One lady's husband came up to me after church Sunday and said "That was the best bread I've had in 20 years!"  You can bet that he has said similar things to her, too, which is even more encouragement for her to continue.


Paul