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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pizza making class at King Arthur Flour, VT

Today I went to a pizza making class at King Arthur Flour that my parents signed me up for as a Christmas gift. They are located in Norwich, VT. I had a great time driving out there with all of the beautiful scenery populated with ski resorts and small cheese farms.

I got there early and checked out the store. Browsing the store was a great time for me, as I am sure it would be for anyone who is really interested in baking. They also sell supplies online, and you can order a catalogue. They had pretty much any kind of flour you can think of, probably 10 different kinds of vanilla extract, endless decorating supplies, bread cookbooks, and much, much more. They also sold some local Vermont products. I bought some Grafton cheddar cheese, Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon, and some tart pans. Then I went to their cafe. I got a spinach and feta croissant and a coffee. The croissant was very flaky, very fresh, and totally amazing.


The Baking Education Center was really professional and comfortable. They had a wood fired oven roaring away, and ready for our pizza.



We made two different pizzas. For one of them, they had the dough already made and rising from earlier in the morning, and the other (a semolina dough) we mixed together right there. It was great because they had all the toppings all chopped up and ready for us, and everything was really organized. I thought that I am basically on the right track with my pizza making (they were even using the same mozzarella and pepperoni I used the last time I made pizza), but there were some things that I learned that seem like good ideas.

  • When you measure out your flour if you are not using a food scale you need to fluff up the flour before measuring it out. It can settle depending how long it has been in the container, and if you end up with too much flour your crust will be too dense.
  • It is a good idea to saute your toppings briefly in olive oil before putting them on the pizza. This is good for taste reasons, but also because you don't want too much moisture weighing down your pizza. 
  • They brush olive oil over the whole dough before topping it with sauce. This is done for flavor, and also to seal the crust. 
  • I told the teacher about how I like to put half wheat flour in the dough recipe because it is healthier. She said this does sound like a good idea, but if I did a fourth or a third instead I might get a better texture and some of the same benefits. 
  • The teacher also made a dessert pizza, which I never thought of doing before. She put marscapone on the pizza dough, tossed some sliced green apples in cinnamon and sugar and arranged the apples over the cheese. Then she put it in the oven, and it turned out really delicious (and was really super easy to make).

Overall, this was a super fun time. The woman who was sitting next to me has taken 18 classes from there. She lives in Pennsylvania, but gets a hotel room and takes many classes in a row. A couple people there were looking to open restaurants, and it was really fun hearing about their plans. An 18 year old was there by herself because she just really wanted to learn how to cook (adorable). There were a couple people (a 23 year old and a 50 year old) who had received the class as a birthday present. There was a couple there where the boyfriend is the one who cooks and the girlfriend was trying to be supportive of her man (actually her pizza looked pretty good for someone who doesn't cook). One of the teachers walked by, looked in my bowl and said "nice dough" very casually. That made me super excited - more even then when our coordinator at the venue for our wedding called me the "craftiest bride she had ever seen". That compliment made all the weekends I spent making bread totally worth it.

I was really happy I went, and I would love to be like that woman who goes back over and over again and become a pro at croissants, eclairs, and all kinds of bread. I loved the interaction with my classmates too. They were really serious and engaged with the process of baking. It was fun being able to sample the pizzas the teachers were making as we cooked too. What a fun way to spend a Sunday!

Check out what I made at my class (the first one is margherita pizza and the other has roasted garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, roasted onions, and pepperoni). They had pizza boxes so I was able to bring them home with me:



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