We’re in New York for the month (you can catch up on my cheese postings on examiner.com if you’re “hungry” for more, and I do have about 10 draft posts waiting for research that extend back to my trip to Wisconsin and Brazil. Those should be up in the next few weeks).
But.. aside from the concerts and the general enjoyment of the city, we decided to sign up for some cooking classes while we were here, and so far, the experience has been mostly fun. Last night, I did a basic bread baking course at Le Pain Quotidien on Bleeker. This is a chain started in Belgium by Alain Coumont back in the 1980′s (if I recall correctly). The place has a rustic feeling, focuses on fresh, natural foods, and makes some pretty good bread.
The class was taught by Daniel, who’s been baking for 8 years. That’s him on the right, getting ready to load baguettes we made into the oven.
There were seven people in our class. LPQ organizes their classes quite nicely. If you’ve ever baked bread, you know that there’s a lot of “down” time waiting for the dough to rise, rest or bake. The class actually starts in the middle of the process; we were given dough that Daniel prepared earlier in the day, so we could start making bread right away. We cut the dough into squares to shape the baugettes, then set them to rest. We then did the same for chocolate and butter rolls, wheat batards with dried apples and raisins, and epees. We worked through the forming steps for each, placing them on a rising rack. When we got through the first “steps”, we returned to the baguettes, forming them in preparation for the oven.
Here’s the basic dough that Daniel made earlier in the day:
After we baked everything expect our pizzas, we went back to step 1, and made the dough that was the basis for almost everything we made. The finished product was sent home with each student to bake in their own oven. It was a great way to organize the class; you got to experience all of the steps of the process, but did not have so much downtime.
If you’re going to be in the City, or you live in an area where Le Pain Quotidien offers classes, check it out and bake some bread!