I’m on a new adventure: how to experience my home territory in fresh, fun and inspiring ways. As a part of that, I happened onto an e-mail announcing cooking classes at our very own, newly renovated Sur La Table store in Carmel. Quite a few classes caught my eye: Coastal Italian Flavors, Risotto: Classic Autumn Flavors, Global Doughnuts. I ultimately chose Rustic European Breads. I was impressed.
The teaching kitchen was spacious, open and light. Everything had been prepped and set up beautifully. All 10 students received black aprons for use during the potentially flour-flying class.
With only two hours to bake three kinds of breads–Italian Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Focaccia, Rustic Dutch Oven French Bread and Crispy Italian Breadsticks (plus making our own butter!), the teacher–Chef Bill–had to be very prepared and organized. He was. For certain breads, he had prepared one batch of dough the night before. During class, we were all a part of creating other batches of dough from scratch.
The most fun part was the making of the breadsticks. Easy, fast, good. And then to eat them hot and fresh out of the oven–ah, yes. The focaccia brought back memories of all the focaccias I had had at family gatherings–not homemade, though, but from a special San Francisco North Beach Ligurian bakery. But now I can do my own!
When there were only ten minutes left in the two-hour class, all of the breads were ready to come out of the oven. Voilà! And we were all ready to taste our creations. We were not disappointed. That Dutch Oven French Bread had a crisp crust and was the perfect base for our class-made butter. The breadsticks were good and cheesy and the focaccia was rosemary-and-olive oil rich.
I left class with a box of baked bread, a set of workable recipes, and a desire to take more classes and bake more bread. Are you tempted? Who knows? There might be a Sur La Table store, or another cooking school, near you, offering classes for your culinary inspiration.