Recipes

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bloggers, VT, Flour, and Baking

Sounds like a fabulous combination to me, right?

Saturday was a quintessential perfect Fall day, and I feel so blessed to have been able to share it was some amazing ladies, in a gorgeous setting, and doing something I absolutely love.baking. 

Megan arranged for a group of 10 of us Boston area bloggers to take a trip up to Norwich, VT to visit the King Arthur Baking Center for a day long baking class!  How could I turn that offer down?!

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The incredible group I was with you’re wondering:

 Alicia, Daisy, Elina, Jen, Kerstin, Katie, Michelle, Meghan, and Megan!

We arrived around noon, and started with a beautiful catered lunch while we learned more about King Arthur from our gracious host Allison. 

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um how cute is that tea-cup shaped bowl?!

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Some of the interesting facts we learned:

  • The company is now 100% employee owned, which means everyone working there is working for a common goal for what is best for the company.  This was very apparent as everyone we met was enthusiastic and seemed to love what they do.
  • King Arthur is the oldest flour company in America!  It started in 1790!!! 
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  • King Arthur holds the highest standards for their product.  Their flour can be counted on to be consistent with it’s quality time after time. 
  • They ship their products to home bakers and professionals all over the 50 states.
  • They have experts on hand by phone and online to help with any questions you can throw their way about baking and more.
  • There are thousands of free recipes on their website.
  • They do an amazing program with school children (4th-7th grades) all over the country: The Life Skills Bread Breaking program.  They will go to your school and teach the kids how to make a loaf of bread.  Then they will give them the ingredients, plus 2 bread bags.  Their mission is to go home, get the family involved, and bake 2 loaves of bread.  One loaf they keep, and they over they bring back and this bread is donated to a local food pantry!  This is a BIG win-win for everyone…the kids learn a life skill, parents and kids spend some quality time together, and local food pantries get fresh homemade bread :) If you work at a school and are interested PLEASE contact them!!

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Once we finished lunch and cake :) (Happy Belated Birthday Megan!), IMG_4847

we headed to the kitchen.

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The three items we would be making:

  • Pizza Dough
  • Crackers
  • Brownies

Tonight…I will cover the Pizza Dough…

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Our instructor, Susan, found all the picture taking to be pretty amusing, she wasn't used to it ;) 

 

I’ve made pizza dough in the past, but it’s never turned out this good!!

We used instant yeast, which I did not have much luck with in the past. Not sure what was up with my yeast then, but this day it would work beautifully.

There was a lot of knowledge imparted to us that day, it was great to learn. 

Did you know the addition of Olive Oil to your dough will yield a more tender crust, if you want it more chewy leave out the oil?

I’ve also been kneading my dough with too much force in the past, and now I will be much gentler.

Another mistake a lot of people make, is incorporating way too much flour when they knead.  People are so afraid of the dough sticking, that they go overboard and too much flour gets added to the dough…this makes your dough much harder to work with when it comes time to shape it.

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Speaking of flour, one technique she covered was measuring flour.  Now this was something I learned WAY back in the day when I had my first little kids cooking set with my brightly colored plastic measuring cups…but it’s always good to remind everyone: 

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  • First “fluff” up your flour in the canister to get it light and airy.
  • Gently add or “sprinkle” flour into your measuring cup.
  • NEVER tap the cup to consolidate the flour!!
  • Use a straight edge to push the excess off the top back in the canister.
  • You want a light cup of flour

Our simple recipe involved:

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Using the plastic bowl scrapers to mix our dough was a great technique, I’m definitely going to continue that at home. 

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In case you don’t know, the three steps to kneading are:

  • Fold the dough, kind of in half, towards you
  • Then gently roll/push it away from you with the heal of your hand…GENTLY!  Like barely push down.
  • Then give your dough pile a quarter turn and repeat

Repeat, repeat, repeat until your dough feels beautiful.  I don’t know how to explain it, but maybe mid way through the dough felt almost getting a little tougher….but just keep kneading and it will be soft and bouncy and tender.

My Dough Baby (yes they were our babies for the day)

IMG_4879  Once done kneading, place in an oiled bowl to rise. 

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While rising we learned about crackers and made the dough (post to come!), then we went back to our pizza dough.

At this point it has risen, and about doubled in size.  Now DON’T punch the dough!  Be nice to your dough baby.  Take it out of the bowl onto your board and give it a few pats to flatten it down slightly.  Then fold it like a business letter, turn 1/4 and fold again.  Place back in the bowl for another rise.IMG_4932

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Now it’s time to shape! 

First form the dough into a small circle, no stretching just yet.  The dough needs guidance, and it you want a circle pizza then tell it so. 

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Mine didn’t so much listen to me, but that’s ok because we were told this is now an “Artisan” pizza…I like the sound of that ;)

Next, the fun stuff: Toppings!!

Less is more people

You don’t want to “load” up your crust…it’s thin and delicate and just can’t handle all that weight.

Susan also mentioned that in Italy, they never use fresh veggies on pizza.  The reason is that when baking they will release too much water and your pizza will get soggy.  I can say I have been guilty of that in the past, but now I know.  Just give the veggies a quick sauté or roast to get the water out before topping your pizza. 

We did simple Pizza Marguerite this day.

Sauce

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Fresh Mozzarella

and Fresh Basil which is put on AFTER baking…you don’t want charred basil do you?

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There she is…

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Not to bad right?  Not exactly circular but I like Artisan pizza ;)

We were able to bake our pizza’s in their $10,000 imported French wood oven, that was outside.

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This baby got to 900 degrees!!  We only needed it at 700, so while we waited for it to cool we shopped in the bakers shop.

Then it was time…I got to shake my pizza off the peal into the firey cave

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At this temp, it only takes about 8 min!                             IMG_4954

Somehow in the excitement of finishing my pizza toppings (basil and parmesan) and boxing it I forgot to take a picture!!  So sad.  But it is deeeelicious!  Now if only I had my own wood oven :)

I can’t wait to share the rest of my pictures and stories involving the homemade crackers and ridiculously rich brownies. 

The rest of the girls stayed up in VT that night and I can’t wait to read about their dinner (which they pushed back an hour since all we did was eat all day haha).  I’m sad I missed it, hopefully next time I can stay!

Thank you all so much for a truly wonderful day, I love that there are so many awesome bloggers in the Boston area :)

14 comments:

  1. looks like such a fun and educational time! and that tea cup bowl is wonderful! can't wait to see the rest of your posts! [chels]

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  2. How fun. I have been looking at there flour in the store lately. I think I will pick some up and test out the pizza dough.

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  3. I think I have a picture of you snacking on your finished pizza. ;o)

    Thank you so much for coming! I really had a great time baking with you! I hope you had a great evening too and that everyone enjoyed the goodies you brought back.

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  4. I never noticed that the fruit bowl was actually a giant teacup! So good to meet you, I had so much fun baking next to you!!

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  5. So nice to meet you this weekend! Loved the recap!

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  6. I love that all your posts are just a little bit different and show different things! I feel like I learned something new from each and every one of them. Now, I NEED to hear about these brownies!

    Sues

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  7. That looks like quite the process, but so0o0o0o worth it!

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  8. What a cool trip! King Arthur is a fabulous company. Seems like you learned a lot too. ah! Hope you have a great week

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  9. I'm sooo jealous! PB and I want to take a weekend to go up there and take some classes! We've been talking about it for 2 years now!!

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  10. bakers@kingarthurflour.comSeptember 20, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Thanks for visiting us! Come back soon!

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  11. It was so great to hang out with you this weekend and you were a kick-ass baking partner! And I did the SAME thing about not taking a picture of my finished pizza (that blog post will be up later this week)!

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  12. so bummed i couldn't make it! hopefully there will be a next time :) thanks for sharing the tidbits!

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  13. Great recap - hopefully we'll get to hang out again soon :)

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  14. Great recap. I didn't even realize the bowl the fruit was in was a giant tea cup! How cute.

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