The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Catch Up

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I was going to call this blog entry Ketchup, but mustard is my favorite condiment any way. This entry will get me somewhat caught up to date as I have gone a month plus without an entry. I have been busy during July and while I did no smoking I have been doing some grilling. I will do a separate entry soon on dabbling into the world of panninis.

I was up in Maine one weekend and another weekend I spent attending the Lowell Folk Festival. The other weekends I remade some of the burgers I’ve enjoyed from the Build a Better Burger book I’ve described in previous blogs. I’ve grilled these at my parents house on their grill. They have my last 4 burner gas grill and I will admit to being spoiled by the room and flexibility my 6 burner gives me. I also tried some grilled corn, but the native corn is very late this year.

What I am going to write about here is a bit of a sidebar to my grilling and smoking activities. I took a class called Bread 101 at King Arthur Flour’s headquarters up in Vermont. A grilling friend suggested I might be interested in the classes there and I decided to begin at the beginning since I know next to nothing about baking. The class ran from 1 to 4 on a Saturday afternoon and was very well organized and the teacher was great. It pays to ask around because many people at this class had attended other classes and felt they did not get what they needed out of it. Everyone was really pleased after this class. We made two different types of bread, plus scones. The scones were an added bonus for me. I love scones but I find most of them are far too dry.

When I first arrived on site I had an hour to kill. I visited the store and was amazed at the wide variety of tools and ingredients stocked their. Over half of them I had no idea what they were used for. After the class was over I knew what many more were used for and several were must haves that I bought on the spot.

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Italian twisty breads with and without sesame seed (front & rear left) and white bread (rear right),

My goal here was to learn the basics of bread baking with the ultimate goal of eventually making my own hamburger buns. I love the fresh made buns at Fuddruckers and wanted to duplicate that taste at home. We started off going up and watching the teacher mix the ingredients and begin kneading the dough. We then went back to our work stations and tried our hand at it. All of the ingredients and utensils were laid out for us at our workstations. As we worked two teachers came around to help us. We learned about the background of the various ingredients and why you use them for this type of bread. We learned about the utensils we were using as well. Then we were shown the proper method of kneading. We each took a poke at the loaf when it was ready to set aside to rise. This way we would know when our loaves were done.

After we were done kneading the white bread loaves and they were set aside to rise we began making an Italian style sesame seed bread. Same drill as before, watch and then go do. When this bread was ready to rise, we returned to the white bread and finished it off and got it into the oven. After the italian bread was ready we learned how to make it into the twisty style intertwined bread you often see at the bakery. The teacher broke all of this down into simple and easy steps that were quite easy to follow. With our Italian bread in the oven we then finished up learning about scones.

My first batch of scones ready to go into the oven

The scones were icing on the cake. I wanted to learn about bread. These were an added treat. One of the things I liked about the class was they told you what not to do as well as what to do. There were a lot of “what not to do’s” associated with the scones. These went a long way towards explaining some of the bad scones I have had. In this case we watched the teacher and while her scones went in the oven we sampled the teachers loaves of white and Italian bread that were fresh out of the oven. When we finished that it was time to try the teachers scones. The were nice and moist and buttery flavored. After the class it was time to go over to the store, where I suddenly needed several of the items that were a mystery to me mere hours before.

My first scones are finished

At the end of the day we left with two loaves of our own freshly baked bread and the knowledge of how to do them again. I wouldn’t have believed I could have done this out of the starting blocks, but the class was very well thought out and the teacher broke it down well. The people attending the class were a great bunch and asked many interesting questions. Another bonus was there were a father and son attending the class as a gift from their wives. They were both into grilling and BBQ and we had some fun chats during the breaks. Another happy surprise was the teacher told me the recipe we had learned for white bread would work out very well for hamburger rolls. It was hard but I saved the loaves of bread until the following day and shared them at a family dinner with my parents. When I got home I made up a batch of scones while the techniques was fresh in my mind. I was going to save them for Sunday dinner as well, but I’m afraid there weren’t enough left. I was “forced” to make another round Sunday morning.

The mark of a great class and teacher were my beginner’s scones were some of the best I have ever tasted

Bottom line: I can’t recommend finding the right cooking or baking class highly enough. It gets you jump started and save you from making a lot of beginner mistakes. The key is finding a good class though. In talking to people who have taken classes I have found many great experiences, but unfortunately many have had bad ones. I can’t recommend the ones at King Arthur Flour highly enough. The Bread 101 class was great!! As for me I am armed with the basics to make my own hamburger rolls. I just need to find out how big a lump of dough to use to get the right size and shape. I may be “forced” to do a trial run where I try different sizes and see what works. Since I won’t be doing burgers for this run, I will simply eat all of the results. It’s a tough job, but for a good cause.

Here is a link for the King Arthur Flour classes:


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