Yesterday was the perfect day to do nothing but bake bread. And so I did. I wish I could say I planned it that way, but I didn’t really have a hand in the weather. Instead, last September I read a post by Megan at Delicious Dishings who had gone to a blogger event at King Arthur Flour up in Vermont. It looked like such a good time that I looked into classes. When I mentioned to a certain aunt of mine that I’d found a class I liked, she suggested that we go together and got me the class as a birthday present. Score!
The class we attended was called Sonata of Sweet Breads. I was intrigued by it because they teach you to make one dough and then show you a bunch of things that you can do with it- dress it up into sticky buns, or keep it as a simple loaf. A single recipe that can be personalized to my mood or the occasion? Sign me up!
We arrived in Norwich about 20 minutes before the class started and I took advantage of the opportunity to get my picture taken with King Arthur. Hehe.
Then we made our way to the classroom, where baking supplies, aprons and recipes were all laid out. There were 11 of us in the class. Some were beginner bakers and a couple were pseudo-professionals (ie people with day jobs, who do baking/catering on the side).
Our instructor, Bonny, started by showing us how to make a basic sweet bread dough. Then she had us go back to our stations and try it ourselves. She did this with each recipe, and I thought it was really effective. The dough itself was really simple… you can find a variation of it here. You can basically make this dough all in one bowl. Here it is at my work station:
I mixed and kneaded and added flour. Before long, I had a nice looking pile of dough. I learned that your dough is ready when you poke it and it bounces back out… just like with this guy.
We had to let the dough rise for a while. In the meantime, Bonny brought out some dough that had been made earlier and showed us how to make a six stranded loaf. I felt like I was back at Girl Scout Camp, cutting and rolling dough and then braiding it together. The result was beautiful though. I was so proud!
We put the loaves on a baking sheet to rise and then Bonny showed us how to make a raspberry braid and a poppy seed mock braid. Both were shockingly easy, and so impressive looking. We went back to our stations, where I made the poppy seed loaf and my aunt made the raspberry. Here I am working at my station.
And here are the loafs we made:
After the braids, we did cinnamon buns, which for some reason I didn’t photograph. In addition to leaning these great breads, I picked up a few general kitchen tricks. For example, do you ever have trouble with eggs rolling around the counter and maybe finding their way to your floor? Not anymore!
Give the bigger end of the egg a firm, but not too firm, tap on the counter. They’ll stand right up like toy soldiers.
Also, are you tired of cleaning out all the gunk that gets trapped inside your traditional whisk? Try a Danish dough whisk.
These were so great to use, I bought one on the spot. (Cheaper version here.) The round shape meant they scraped the sides of the bowl well and incorporated everything, and I found them more comfortable to use than a traditional whisk. I think this will become a staple of my kitchen.
While the breads baked, my aunt and I went over to the King Arthur shop, where we perused their plethora of goodies and indulged in a few. Then we went back to pick up our loot. These were my favorite.
This dough is really light, and subtly sweet. It’s fabulous fresh out of the oven, but I could see it being great as french toast or bread pudding… if you can get the bread to last that long!
As you can see, King Arthur gets top marks in my book.
(And huge thanks to my Aunt K. for making it all happen!)