Charity marathons, donations, pet adoptions, and volunteering are some ways to give back to the community. Ways to feed your soul and reaffirm to society that you care. Whatever the reason, giving back and doing good helps build a community and makes your neighborhood that much better, even if you don’t know it. Everyone could use a little more sunshine in their lives and King Arthur Flour is out to do just that with their Bake For Good Tour.
King Arthur Flour is out to help by baking their way into the hearts and souls of bloggers in hopes that they will teach and inspire others to use their new-found skills for good. Here was the plan: three cities, a group of bloggers, 1 day of crash-course bread and pie lessons and baking, 1 day of serving their creations along with a home-cooked dinner to a local homeless shelter. Essentially encouraging us to spread the word of the Bake For Good mantra via the social medias while filling our souls with the do-good spirit. Let’s just say it worked like a charm because my chest is warm and fluffy like freshly baked bread.
We left the hotel at 7:30am to travel to the Art Institute for our day of baking and lessons from the KAF chefs. The Art Institute is a beautiful building in downtown that makes me slightly wonder if I need to make an excuse to go back to school so I can visit this building more often. Is that weird? Anyways, we arrived at the kitchen to find a gift bag from KAF full of swag that had me curling my toes in excitement. I tied my KAF apron on and settled-in on a baking station surrounded by my new goodies and munched on a bagel and sipped on my coffee while the group of bloggers became acquainted. Before I knew it, we were whisked (pun!) into yeast dough lessons by the talented Robyn and then turned loose to make a loaf of bread, a three-braided loaf, a six-braided loaf (eep!) and some rolls.
We learned that the proper technique to making yeast dough is to start with a very wet dough and add the flour in stages and this way the dough won’t be sticky and the dough won’t be tough. I learned that I might be kneading my dough too roughly also and that it should be more of a pressured-rolling motion. Robyn showed-us her roll, fold and roll method and using the heel of her hand to pinch the loaf closed to ensure a well-formed loaf.
The braided loafs seemed intimidating but we used the tips that Robyn gave us and managed to create beautiful artisan loafs that were worthy of a magazine cover. The key is to have rolled logs of dough similar in size and length and to pinch the logs together and make a lose braid so the dough can rise again before going into the oven. After the braid has been formed and the ends pinched together, rolling the ends under make the braid look better and more uniform in shape. We sprayed non-stick spray on the braids and then covered in plastic wrap to allow for them to raise again before baking them. The rolls we made were beautifully circular and we learned the proper rolling technique which is by pinching the fold and rotating it against the table to keep the round shape. The golden crunchy exterior housed the soft fluffy interior of some of the most delicious bread I have ever had. We were all beaming with accomplishment when the bread came out of the oven.
We dived into pies and we learned the proper way to make pie dough. Here’s a little secret: visible butter (also referred to as VB). The key to a wonderfully flaky crust is having visible chunks of butter in the crust. We all watched the tutorial by Robyn with wide eyes while she placed egregiously large pieces of butter in the flour and proceeded to handle them with reckless abandon. But what about getting the butter warm and melting because your hands are warm? Well, if you coat the butter pieces in the flour first the melting problem ceases to exist, which was something new for me to learn. I watched in awe as she produced the most perfectly round and flat pie crust and effortlessly fold the circle into fourths and place the inside point in the pie tin and unfold it with no fear of sticking. It’s like my world has changed when it comes to pies…I will no longer fear the transfer of a rolled-out dough to the pie tin!
After becoming pie crust masters, we watched the other KAF chef Susan make the lattice-top pie and show us the fancy way she transfers the crust to the top of the pie and eliminates the mess trying to weave the dough together on top of the pie filling. We baked the last of our pies and cleaned our stations, eventually retiring back to the hotel for a bit of rest before going to dinner at Little Beast. The restaurant was really cute and my salmon was extremely yummy. They also had a decent craft beer selection (yay!). After a long day, it was nice to relax and chat with my fellow bloggers and the KAF peeps. I felt a twinge of sadness knowing that all of my new friends were returning home after tomorrow but I felt reassured that I everyone was pretty internet savvy so that we would keep in touch. With my belly full of good food and my body tired from the revelry, I slept like a rock that night.
Day 2 will be covered in a separate post because 1. that’s just too long of a post and 2. I took way too many photos and I want you to cherish them, gentle reader. Speaking of cherishing, I have been authorized to host a giveaway!!!! Be excited. Here are the items included:
1. King Arthur Flour Apron
2. “Bake” mug – it’s super cute
3. 5lb Bag of KAF All-purpose flour
Here’s how to enter:
1. Comment on this post and describe how you would use your flour to Bake for Good. It can be making something for a women’s shelter, the homeless man you pass on the way to work, a new neighbor who maybe needs a friendly face, a bake sale where some of the profits are donated, etc. Be creative!
2. To earn extra entries, comment on my Facebook, Twitter (@jessicajrice) and Instagram (Beerandbaking) and let me know how you plan to Bake for Good or show me a pic of your baking creations! You MUST use the #BakeForGood and @mention me or otherwise I might miss your entries. I will be announcing the winner on Friday (May 2nd) at noon! You have to be a US resident to qualify.