A Bread Making Class at Old Tioga Farm
I recently signed up for a bread making class at a local farm. The owners run a farm to table restaurant on most weekends, and @donvee and I purchased organic vegetables from their CSA in the spring. They also run culinary trips to Italy a few times a year.
It's summertime in Pennsylvania, so the class I chose to attend was on one of the hottest days of the year. A small farmhouse kitchen, two ovens set at over 400°F, and 90+ weather :( I had to take a cold shower when I got home in the afternoon.
Our class started by discussing some bread making techniques, different ingredients, the advantages of using a starter. I love to bake, but I typically stick to desserts. Pies and cupcakes are my jam. I've tried to bake bread before, and I make a great brioche (which ends of being the dough for my sticky buns), but otherwise my loaves of bread are dense bricks that are still doughy in the center no matter how long they bake. Justin, my instructor, told me we'd fix all that by the end of the day.
(Thankfully this room where our discussions were held was air conditioned)
In class, we learned to make three types of bread: foccacia, a crusty boule, and Roman thin-crusted pizza dough. We also learned how to make butter. As we went along I kept taking notes on things I'd need to buy if I intended to step up my bread making game. I needed containers to proof the dough, a bench scraper, proofing bowls, and a food mill (to make homemade pizza sauce).
The Roman pizza crusts were first. They were supposed to be about 12" in diameter, but I made mine a bit thinner at 14". I wish I got a picture of the finished product. Justin taught us how to make a delicious sauce using San Marzano tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. He provided three types of mozzarella cheese, the best (and most expensive) being a buffalo milk mozzarella imported from Italy. Hands down the best mozzarella I've ever had in my life. Here are the pizza crusts after baking.
Once they were baked we added the sauce and cheese and baked them for a few more minutes, then topped them with olive oil and fresh basil grown on the farm. Delicious!
Next we made the foccacia and crusty boules.
We baked the foccacia in well seasoned cast iron pans after letting them proof. The boules were baked in covered cast iron pots. These were proofed in the rattan bowls you see in the first picture.
And finally, the finished product!
It was definitely a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The instructor even provided me with a little of his starter to take home to use in my bread baking. I have to feed "Mother" every day. Kind of like a pet fish.
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