Bread Baking 101

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to spend 4+ hours learning the basics of bread baking! A collaboration between Food Forward (an excellent social enterprise in LA) and Rose Lawrence, the owner of Red Bread, this workshop called for an appetite and a willingness to get dirty.

We started off by learning about Rose's "mother" (dough), also know as the starter. Made of flour and water, this happily gurgling mass had the consistency of thick pancake batter and it contained some very pleased bacteria hard at work eating whatever it could find in the flour.

Then we mixed and proofed, practicing our hand movements and getting a bit frisky with the dough. No knead to be gentle (see what I did there?), the dough can take some rough handling!

With so few ingredients in the simple country loaves we baked, technique becomes the key. With NO practice baking this type of bread, I didn't really have any technique (yet!) but after shaping multiple times, I started to get the hang of the most basic choice (a circle).

Time for the dough to rest and proof for the last time (aka: spend half an hour cleaning up the kitchen) and then we learned how to score the bread.

I came home with bread in three stages: starter, dough to bake tomorrow, and two finished loaves! We've already devoured most of the first one...

Takeaways from today: cultures all over the world have been baking for thousands of years. Far before we controlled humidity, measured temperatures, and weighed out flour in grams, bakers used their instincts and experience to make great loaves. Because the ingredients are so simple, anyone with the right information (or teacher - thanks, Rose!) can make excellent bread, deliciously warm from the oven, even after sitting in my car for an hour!