The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I Need Some More Class

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I Need Some More Class

I don't get jealous of the usual list of suspects that crank out the "I gotta bake a loaf of that" breads. I get it that their skills weren't given to them and they had to put in their time at the work bench to learn the craft. They all probably baked a brick or two in their time before they got to where they're at these days. I've already baked a couple of bricks so I'm part way there. I keep winning ribbons at the Leavenworth County Fair where the Mennonite families are stiff competition so I know I'm improving.

Once upon a time, I envied Paul because he could be up in front of a class to teach bread baking skills but those days are over. I got a class of my own, humble enough but I haven't done any teaching since 1975 when I did some substitute teaching at the local schools. It was a "Knowledge at Noon" class, sponsored by the county Extension Service office at the town library for all of one hour. There were only five adults in attendance and somebody's great granddaughter who was easily distracted by the samples.

I had a Good time. I finally got to put my myself up there and be myself in public talking about bakers math, preferments, soakers, stretch and folds, and a home baker's toys from the tool box.. There were samples of a blatant copy of Floyd's Rustic Bread. The class got to compare a Basic White Bread done in the straight mix fashion and one teased out with a poolish, minimal yeast (3/8 tsp), and an overnight stay in the fridge. That teased out white bread was the best white bread I've ever baked and the class and agent agreed. There was a willing volunteer to take it home at the end of the class. I also completed an arrangement to swap some of my sourdough starter for some homemade, unfiltered honey made here in Leavenworth.

Would I do that again? Oh yeah, I sure would despite the occasional stumbling, brain freezes, and the moment I remembered that teaching is always harder than it looks from the seat of a distracted student. There were some things I did wrong, some things I forgot, but there were things that I'd do all over again and will when I get the chance. Nobody walked out, I know that I reached one attendee with some knowledge she didn't have before she walked in, and I got two attendees really fired up and ready to tackle one of RLBs rye breads from her "Bread Bible".

I got to make a difference, admittedly a very small difference, in the world today as a volunteer for the county Extension Service. Not a bad way to spend my summer.





nmygarden's picture

Paying forward or Giving back, but either way, it has tremendous personal and community value. Sharing our skills and knowledge, engaging others in healthy dialog, continuing to learn and challenge our own abilities. That's where it's at, Jim. Thank you!


pmccool's picture

Glad to hear that you've re-engaged the teacher parts of the brain, even if they're a bit rusty.  I'm sure you did a wonderful job.

Those who walked in knowing nothing about poolishes or retarded ferments definitely got value for their time and money.


dabrownman's picture

return is the definition of generosity.  Usually students are most grateful to have a generous teacher and I am sure they were more than wowed with your knowledge and presentation.  Well Done and

Happy baking PG