Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bread Class at Hill's Kitchen

Last weekend it was cold and blustery (as it seems to be on a regular basis here in DC these days), so it was the perfect day to take a cooking class! I headed on down to Hill's Kitchen (http://www.hillskitchen.com/) for a class on Overnight Breads. Mmmm, warm fresh bread with butter, doesn't that just make you cozy thinking about it?

Since my recent trip to Paris, I've been thinking that I need to make more bread. Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on a loaf in the store - what is all that stuff?? Bread shouldn't have in it much more than what you can count on one hand, give or take a couple things, depending.....

The class was taught by Jane Griffith, a local baker who has known the owner of Hill's Kitchen since she was a little girl. She had moved out of the area for a while to study with a baker in the Berkshires, but now she's back and making bread for local bakeries. This was only her second class and I have to admit, it was obvious, as the instructions were a little scattered and confusing at times. But it was also obvious that she has a vast amount of knowledge regarding tips and techniques and the chemistry of bread-making. She showed us how to make two kinds of bread - a whole wheat made in a dutch oven and an oatmeal loaf.

She talked about the "revolution" that is starting to erupt in the US - finally we are starting to realize that the old-school artisanal European bread makers have got that shit down, and perhaps its time to emulate what they're doing! My mom is a phenomenal bread maker and has been as long as I can remember. Recently she told me of one of her techniques for making a nice crust on baguettes - open the oven on occasion and spritz some water in with a little spray bottle. Wouldn't you know that the teacher in this class told us that European breads are often so good because they use steam ovens? Way to go mom, you just gained even more credibility! The extra moisture from the steam helps keep the bread moist on the inside and give it that crunchy crust that keeps you coming back for more. God, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.....

Here are a few great resources for bread making if you're willing to give it a shot:

- Beard on Bread by James Beard
- Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Eric Wolfinger
- Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart