The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Not just one of those days

pmccool's picture

Not just one of those days

Although my baking has waned recently because I need to reduce the bread backlog in my freezer, it hasn't gone entirely dormant.  For instance, I baked some hamburger buns today (thanks, dolfs!) as a demonstration/interview for an instructor's position with the Culinary Center of Kansas City.  It was a lot of fun and felt more than a little bizarre.  After all, I am, to steal proth5's pet expression, just a raggedy home baker, not a professional chef/baker.  Still, any time that you get to talk to people about baking bread is a pretty good time.  And I apparently managed to do so in a coherent fashion because they asked me to teach for them.

The demo was slated as a 30-40 minute session in front of six of the CCKC staff and instructors, followed by their feedback.  That's a very small slice of time to work with, so I broke it into two separate phases and applied some "TV cooking" tricks.  The first phase was to demonstrate the mixing and kneading of a single batch of dough (using pre-measured ingredients), fielding questions as I went.  Some of the reviewers are bread bakers, some are not.  From a previous test run with the dough, I knew that I did not want to add more flour to the dough.  I also knew that the butter content was high enough that the dough would not stick to the work surface.  Consequently, I only did a rough mix and dumped the not-entirely-cohesive mass out onto the work surface, which was a polished marble or travertine material.  That elicited a few questions about why I wasn't worried about the whole thing sticking, so I showed them how the butter in the dough was keeping my hands and the counter comparatively clean.  I only kneaded it enough with the push-turn-fold-push method to get everything to hang together, then started French folding, a la Richard Bertinet.  That triggered a number of questions and comments, since none of them had seen that technique previously.  They were impressed with how easily the dough developed and smoothed out, and with how it picked up the initial goop from the countertop.  Putting that aside, I pulled out six batches worth of dough that I had made prior to leaving home for the demo and put each of them to work shaping the dough into the bun type of their choice, with pointers on how to achieve the various shapes.  I gave them tips for the final fermentation and baking (they have plenty of ovens to work with at the center) and that was the end of the demo.  Next up was listening to the critiques, which were uniformly positive and provided some very useful tips for me as a presenter.

So, the next step is to work out what courses to offer and to get them scheduled.  The catalog for the November 2012 - April 2013 semester is being developed now, so my timing was good.  I'll probably teach once, perhaps twice, a month.  This promises to be a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to sharing the joy of good, home-made bread with others.




Floydm's picture

That is very exciting.  Congrats, Paul!


isand66's picture

Good luck.

What exciting news for you.

I'm sure you will do great.


LindyD's picture

Am certain the CCKC instructors will benefit from your skills, as will your forthcoming students.


dabrownman's picture

that generosity is the greatest of all character attributes required for success that is the hardest to have and hold dear.  Teaching is one of the most generous things a person can do.  I have often wondered why retired folks, not that you are,  don't teach more.  It seems when folks finally have learned something; worth teaching, know it well enough to teach it and they have the time to do it - they don't.  Seems like areal waste for the rest of humanity.

I am proud  of you and thankful for your generosity Paul.  

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

It's about time that I get back on their e-mailing list. I'm curious to see what will be on the agenda.



patnx2's picture

to be a teacher.  As I know  from your posts you are a great home "raggedly" baker. It will be fun and all will gain.

I've been  into pizza latly and have the bug. I've been teaching my neighbors kids but I think they just come for the pizza. Have fun,Patrick from Modesto

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Have you thought about making videos of your lessons?  For your own library or YouTube?

ehanner's picture

That's really great Paul. They are lucky to have you. With your skills and way with words, your classes will be a hit, I am certain. I'm looking forward to hearing what you are teaching.



pmccool's picture

Floyd - Exciting is right!  Have you ever seen a dog chase a car?  Ever wonder what the dog might think if s/he actually caught it?  I may be living that sensation.

Ian - I appreciate your encouragement and confidence.  One proposed class is with youngsters 5-8 years old (accompanied by parent) and another with "young chefs" 9-14 years old (unaccompanied).  Those will be a challenge!

Lindy - Surprising the instructors with the French fold was surprising to me, so there may be room to teach the teachers, too, as you suggest.  And learn from them, I hope.

dabrownman - I agree that teaching is an innately generous act but don't put me on a pedestal, please.  The instructors are remunerated, even if no one is going to get rich from it.  Thanks for your generous words.

Jim - You can see the current offerings on their website (link is in my original post).  I'm not sure when the new schedule will be finalized.

Patrick - Even if they come for the pizza, they are still absorbing what you are teaching.  The most important lesson may simply be that this is something that anyone, including themselves, can do.  Good for you to be working with them!

Mini - Since CCKC lives on live-and-in-person instruction, I doubt that they will video any of the classes.  They certainly haven't with any thus far.  

Eric - I hope your prophecies are fulfilled!  I'll put up a link to the class schedule after it is posted.

breadsong's picture

Hi Paul,
I remember this post of yours: (It looked like everyone had a great time with you leading them through).
I'm sure your future students will have just as much fun - wishing you the best for your new teaching position!
:^) breadsong

holds99's picture


With your excellent communication and organization skills, coupled with your subject knowledge, you are certain to be a resounding success and a valuable asset to the teaching staff at CCKC.

Best wishes in your new position,


GSnyde's picture

Nice to have that sort of recognition, even if you regret catching the car.  Woof!


Mebake's picture

I'am happy for you, Paul. It must be great excitment to be a baking tutor, even for a limited time.