I hope I'm doing this correctly; I've never posted to a list before--but I
can't resist. Danny Dunn asked about any bread baking classes, as he and
his wife would like to do that for a vacation. Well, for my birthday this
past fall, my husband sent me to a bread baking weekend at the New England
Culinary Institute (NECI) at the Inn at Essex (just outside Burlington,
Vermont). It was co-sponsored by King Arthur Flour, and it was FABULOUS.
I have been baking all my bread for 25 years (I started VERY young, of
course), and I still took 15 pages of notes during my classes! The weekend
is a mix of hands-on classes and demonstrations, and the classes are taught
by folks from King Arthur, by cookbook authors like Lora Brody and Patty
Rademacher, and by professional chefs like Jeffrey Hamelman, who was the
captain of the US team at the breadbaking Olympics (when the US won first
place in baguettes). It was the most wonderful weekend, meeting lots of
other breadbakers, baking breads and pastries, and learning about a subject
I love. The attendees ranged from caterers who wanted to improve their
baking skills to first-timers. The only hard part was deciding which
hands-on classes to take (and getting into those); the class size is
limited to 15 and there are 10 concurrent sessions. You do receive all the
recipes, but the wonderful thing is learning how and why to do all sorts of
things. I can now do 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-strand braids; make croissants
(and, of greater interest to my family, pain au chocolat) from scratch; and
I am absolutely fearless when it comes to any new recipe, because I
understand much better how all the ingredients are going to behave. I'll
never make it onto Jeffrey Hamelman's team for the Olympics, but I sure can
keep myself and my family happy!
Anyway, NECI runs the breadbaking weekend each fall--and there is also a
chocolate weekend in November, and an Italian one, I think, in the spring.
Don't have the phone number here, but NECI is headquartered in Montpelier,
Vermont; they run the restaurants at the Inn at Essex in Essex Junction,
Vermont; and King Arthur would also be able to give you the scoop since
they are so involved. I know you'll love it.