This past Saturday Michael held down the fort while I slipped away to King Arthur Flour’s baking school in Vermont. I was one of the lucky 12 or so who got a space in this class with world-renowned Artisan Baker Ciril Hitz from Johnson & Wales. I’m so glad I treated myself and I highly recommend if you get a chance you take it as well. He is a great instructor and a very down-to-earth guy.
While I’m considered a good baker by many, they have no idea what it takes to be an artisan baker. It is science afterall which I was terrible at. (I have to admit I still am today – just ask my 10 year old son Connor who asks me for help and is immediately directed to Dad.)
This wasn’t just a demo, it was a hands-on 9 hour class learning how to make the perfect dough for some great recipes – laminated doughs for croissants and danish, whole wheat bagels, berry muffins, and Stollen which is a German fruit cake that has almond paste running through the center. In class I made three loaves of this with my partner Leon from New Jersey and I served it to my guests for a starter course on Sunday morning. Not a crumb was left on any plate and my kids declared it “yummalicious!” I saved the other loaf as Ciril says it makes great french toast. I’m going to make it when I only have a few guests so I can try it myself.
A main part of baking is developing that perfect gluten window which is very hard for someone like me who has little patience. I thought it was the funnest part of the class because I got to play with my dough. If you can stretch your dough out and make a little window that is almost see through, you’ll have happy bread! And from the raves of my guests and kids my Stollen was very happy bread.
So now my plan for the rest of the year is to make a recipe each week from Ciril’s new book which I had him autograph to me and my daughter Emily — the next great baker in our family. As reviews come in from guests, I’ll post them here.
Here’s to lots of happy doughs and guests here at Bear Mountain Lodge.