The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

King Arthur classes

leemid's picture

King Arthur classes

Well, I don't know how I let myself get so busy. It's already been a week since the King Arthur folk came to the Portland, Oregon area and offered 4 free classes. I was able to go to the two on Friday, avoiding the Saturday classes that were sure, in my opinion, to be way over populated. The classes in Lake Oswego, south of Portland proper, were well attended but manageable.

The noon class featured a sweet dough. While this wasn't really what I was most interested in, I was grateful for the class anyway. Carolyn Hack taught the two classes I attended and she was delightful to watch as well as thoroughly knowledgeable. She made the classes a joy to attend, although she didn't call my number for a door prize until the evening class. Her dough landling methods were enlightening. Her explanations included a nice depth and breadth of information. Even though I really wanted the information I hoped to get from the artisan class in the evening, I couldn't help but try the sweet dough last weekend, as cinnamon rolls. These were certainly the best cinnamon rolls I have ever made.

The evening class was an equal joy to attend, although I was initially disappointed how little pure information I learned. Then I realized this was due to the huge amount I have learned over the last year or so from various books, lots of practice, and the conversations here at The Fresh Loaf. So I settled on feeling good about it all at the end of the day. What I did learn was a variation on wet dough landling. Carolyn intentionally made the yeasted dough intended to make baguettes extry wet to show us how to deal with it. While I do alright with this, her technique was eye-opening. 

The biggest disappointment was that the samples offered weren't the bread Carolyn was making. In fact, the demo bread was not baked as far as I know. The samples were some excellent yogurt from one of the free-class sponsors and some bread brought from the KA bakery. It was alright, but not fresh-today. Ah, well. If that's the best complaint I can muster, it's not worth mustering.

This weekend I intend to try the artisan bread Carolyn demonstrated. I have never tried yeasted artisan bread, except PR's whole wheat in a pan, which I for some reason don't consider to be artisan, right or wrong. Perhaps I have become easily influenced after a lifetime of media advertising, but I never intended to try KA flour, especially since I found Pendleton Mills flour, but after these classes I am interested in doing so to see if they are of the quality Carolyn very believably testified.

Recommendation: if KA comes to a venue near you, go, but get there early. There were between 300 - 500 people at these classes which raised an issue with parking. Everyone made it into the room, as far as I know, but the good seats were full at least a half hour before the show. I am quite subtantially more impressed with KA now than I was before. They are a good asset in the world of baking, in my new opinion, and should be sought after as such.

Thank you, King Arthur Flour!

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


Floydm's picture

Thanks for the write-up, Lee.

I intended to go, but got tied up setting up my son's school auction that day. By the time I got out, the morning class had already started, and I was too pooped to go to the evening class.

squatteam's picture

And I agree with Lee! Whole Heartedly!!! The classes were smaller here but the 'get there early' advice still applies. My only addition to Lee's comments is that if you can only attend one of the sessions, opt for the Artisan Breads session. The basic information is the same for both sessions, but the Artisan Bread (with the dough handling techniques) is the one to see. The Sweet Dough session was terrific too, but if I could only see one it would be the Artisan. I took my 10 yr old son with me and at first he complained about the content being the same in the evening, but he quickly quieted down and became almost hypnotized by Ms. Hack's deft dough handling. He left exhilirated and has successfully made both the sweet and the artisan doughs demonstrated and with very good results. The lessons learned will serve my family well...I just wish they came around more frequently as my DD (8 yr) is looking at graduating from cookies and cakes to breads too. I can't wait to go back and be the 'info poolish' I want to be. Thanks to KA, Red Star Yeast, Stonyfield Farms Yogurt and Rumford Baking Powder these classes are free, and worth every penny of it PLUS. oz

stevenkvamme's picture

Thanks KA!          I also attended and enjoyed both sessions in Tacoma. As we were leaving, we each each given a plastic dough scraper and a gift card for KA's online store. We were told that it was a $10 off $20 card. It turns out that it was a regular $10 gift card with no minimum. There are a few it items in the Bread Baking > Tools & Equipment section that have free shipping. I was able to combine my two $10 gift cards and get a $19.95 Baker's Couche for free. I also won a 5 lb bag of KA White Whole Wheat Flour in a raffle. Thanks KA!

chez-jude's picture

I decided, last minute, to make the 2-hour drive from Eugene to Portland for the Saturday classes (plus a visit to the new Ikea). I was glad I'd arrived early as the place was packed. It was fascinating just looking around to see such a mixed mob who were into bread making.

I attended both classes. I hadn't been working with sweet doughs and was curious. I've now tried the Monkeybread and the Almond-Filled Mock Braid that she prepared. (Wow... the price of almond paste is out of sight. I was going to pass and try to locate a recipe for making my own. But then I came across a can at a reasonable price. However, when I opened it, I discovered it was not almond paste but almond FILLING -- which is basically thickened corn syrup with some almond flavoring and specks of almond in it. The bread still came out delicious, but would be far, far better with the almond paste.) A great tip I learned from this class was that using dental floss to cut cinnamon rolls prevents squished rolls.

The afternoon class on Artisan Breads was equally packed. And although I don't think I learned anything new (that I can remember!), it was a pleasure watching Carolyn in action. As mentioned, she had an interesting way of handling wet dough -- kind of pulled from the edge nearest her stretching it towards her, then threw it over the remaining glob of dough, kind of like throwing a blanket over someone's head.

After each class, there was an extended question-and-answer session with a very engaged audience. And I did learn that a bay leaf placed in stored flour keeps away insects. It's been many a year since I've had that problem, but I like the idea.

Carolyn did a fantastic job and it was well worth the drive. I only wish she'd asked if there was anyone in the audience from The Fresh Loaf so I'd had a chance to catch a glimpse of others who may have attended!