Really good bread takes more than simply being able to read a recipe. It takes all our senses. Feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing, seeing; all work towards making that perfect loaf.
Are you craving bread now? I seriously was. It was SUCH a fun class. It was just GC and me and a father-son pair. She caps the baguette classes at 4 people because you need so much room to form the dough for the baguettes. I loved this because it felt intimate and we were really able to learn a lot.
We began by chatting about each of our baking histories over lemon water and tea. Melinda had prepared dough a day ahead of time for us, so we used that to form the baguettes. We started by folding the dough four times, and then partitioning it into 10 equal sized pieces, for 10 baguettes total! Melinda showed us how to form the baguette (much more complex than I was anticipating, but not difficult once you practice) on homemade ‘play dough’. We then dug into our dough and formed the loaves. They had to rest for about half an hour, and during this time we made a new batch of dough from scratch to bring home with us. We now know how to knead properly, how to make a pre-ferment, how to ‘slash’ the bread…so much goes into baking a perfect baguette! I’ll never look at the store loaves the same way.
Melinda’s studio is attached to her house. She told us that the previous owner used the space as a barber shop. He had done the cool detailed work which she now uses as a chalkboard. I love the way it frames her awesome baking tools.
I’m drooling over her beautiful dishes from Farmhouse pottery. I love the earthy, clean look of it. I may be adding a few to our wedding registry 😉
She brought out two large batches of dough which we had to master. I was a bit fearful of the dough at first and was worried I was going to ruin it. However, Melinda was great in telling us that we won’t break the dough. We were definitely comfortable handling it by the end of our class. We just had to show the dough who was ‘boss’.
Once all of our baguettes were formed, we had to let them rest with their seams facing up. The special cloth they are on is actually raw denim that we coated in flour! Apparently it has all of the right properties to make it be perfect for holding the baby baguettes as they are rising. The cloth needs to be able to hold enough flour so the dough won’t stick, and it needs to hold its shape as it is cradling each baguette.
We used special loading boards to transfer the baguettes from the cloth to the oven. In the process, we had to slash the tops of the baguettes three times. This gives a place for steam to escape and allows the loaf to grow as it is baking. We baked them five at a time at 500 F for 12 minutes. We also spritzed the oven with water to ‘steam’ the loaves and create a super crispy crust.
Can you tell which one Melinda slashed for us? We struggled a bit with this part–you have to get the angle exactly right, as well as the depth and positioning of the cuts.
Melinda and her daughter prepared a wonderful spread of snacks and food to accompany our baguettes. They even made some dairy free items which was super kind of them. There was an incredible white bean dip with panko bread crumbs. There was an apple kale salad, homemade roasted red pepper dip (to die for, I am seriously dreaming of it right now), marinated olives, tapenade…SO MUCH YUM! Her daughter also created a beautiful chocolate raspberry merengue.
Overall, GC and I loved our afternoon with Knead & Know. We really felt like guests in Melinda’s immaculate home, and being able to learn from her was a wonderful experience. We can’t wait to go back again…she has a pizza making class which GC and I are excited to sign up for soon!
Until next time, Knead & Know. We can’t wait to be back!