This post is long overdue, but not because I wasn’t excited to write it. I lost the recipes we got in class and couldn’t remember the names of the breads. I just wasn’t willing to publish it without that info!
I’ve been a long-time fan of King Arthur Flour, largely because they have a really fun selection of baking items, from pans to mixes to kitchen gadgets. Oh, and they sell a high-quality selections of flour, too! What I didn’t know for a long time was that they have an education center where you can learn how to create breads, pastries, cakes, and more. And that baking center is only a couple of hours from my house! A year or so ago, I decided that I was GOING to take a class there. But it was just a few months ago that I asked my good friend Melanie if she’d like to commit to driving up and learning to bake something yummy. She bakes all manner of lovely things(seriously, visit each and every one of those links). She agreed. And then… just a week or two later, something extra special happened. Melanie got in touch with King Arthur Flour to do a giveaway and a tour, she invited me along, and King Arthur Flour asked us if we’d like to take a class. Uhm, yeah!!!
Melanie and I chose Mediterranean Breads. It was one of the first classes that had openings (those King Arthur classes fill up FAST), but I was also excited about the ingredients. When I think “Mediterranean” I think olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, sea salt and rosemary. Those are some of my favorite ingredients, so I was pretty sure we couldn’t go wrong with this class.
The day of class, Melanie got up at the crack of dawn and drove an hour to get me. We then drove another two hours up to King Arthur Flour to meet with the lovely Allison Furbish. Unfortunately, we had a mix up and didn’t really have time for our tour, but Allison told us a bit about King Arthur Flour, which celebrated its 220th birthday last year. Wow! It’s an employee-owned company, which I always think is a great model. It means that each and every employee has a vested interest in creating the best product and customer experience possible. They are also just beginning a renovation to create more space and a more cohesive customer experience.
I was nervous about the class because I had almost no bread-baking experience, but our instructor was fantastic. She clearly explained all of the steps, talked us through the whys and hows, and even dispelled some myths. All in all, she left me feeling confident that I could bake lovely breads at home. I should say here that I left slightly more confident than I should have been, but am still able to do a pretty good loaf!
The breads we tackled were:
1.Eliotes – These are olive rolls. They are soft from the olive oil, with a gentle olive flavor, and just about heaven with a gentle sprinkling of sea salt on top. In fact, I’ve forgotten how much I loved these. I will definitely need to make a batch. Each roll has a little pocket of sliced olives inside. While I’m not really a fan of a plain olive, the were yummy. I highly recommend these!
2. Daktyla – This recipe creates “finger-shaped” rolls that people can tear off to eat. The recipe from King Arthur Flour has nigella seeds and these were my least favorite of the breads. I think I might try to make them without and see how that goes.
3. Piadina – I just adored these little flatbreads, but that likely had something to do with the fact that we hadn’t had any real lunch and our instructor served these with prosciutto, cheese, and salad greens. Hard to go wrong there. Piadina are supposed to be round, crispy flat breads. Our instructor had us roll the balls into flat rounds and then cook on a griddle. The result was a softer, doughy flatbread, more along the lines of a naan. When I tackled them again at home, I used our tortilla maker, which both flattens and cooks the bread at once. As the air is released it makes this high-pitched whine/squeal. The kids started calling it screaming bread. They were crispier, so I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for. I felt that these were the easiest of the bunch to make and you can prepare the dough in advance and just cook a flatbread when you want it. These were a BIG hit in the family and we put out all kinds of options to tuck inside.
During the class, there were several loaves of bread with butter laid out for us to nibble on and the smells of other wonderful baked goods emanated from the commercial kitchen. I can’t wait to go back for another class and I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in baking (breads, pastries, pizzas, cakes, cookies). They also have cake decorating classes and options for kids/families. Even if you don’t have time for a class, definitely stop by if you’re in the area. They sell their baked goods in the cafe, and the shop is pure heaven for bakers with everything from high-quality baked goods to unique ingredients to fun edible decorations. There are also plenty of specialty items.
Disclosure: We received a free baking class from King Arthur Flour. There was no promise of a positive review, and all opinions contained in this post are my own.