Baking Class At King Arthur, Part 2

Ok, so we left off with the crackerbreads in the oven and our pizza dough rising (click here to catch up). Susan's son Nick, our assistant for the class, watched over our crackerbreads and pulled them out when they were done so we could start in on the next recipe: Brownies!

Alicia and I got a little silly during the brownie making, so I'm thinking that explains my lack of picture taking. But, fortunately, there's a How2Heroes video and step-by-step pictures on the King Arthur Web site along with the brownie recipe that we made. I encourage you to try these brownies. I was a little skeptical about whole grain brownies, but they were incredibly rich, fudgy, and just as good as brownies made with all-purpose flour -- or maybe even better with those extra nutrients!

Back To The Pizza Dough

With our brownies baking away under Nick's watchful eye, we returned to our pizza dough.

Susan showed us how to stretch the dough into a circle, using just our hands to turn and pull the dough. This works so much better than a rolling pin!

Next, she laid the dough on a board dusted with semolina.

And then she showed us how to top the dough. She explained that the pizza should only be "annointed" with the sauce and suggested that if we really like sauce, we should serve a small bowl on the side. Too much sauce (and too many toppings) weigh the dough down and could make it soggy. We didn't have to worry abut having too many toppings as we were all just making Margherita pizzas. Susan scattered some fresh mozzarella over the pizza and explained that we would add the basil after we baked the pizzas.

We went back to our tables to work on our own pizzas. Here are some step-by-step pictures I took of the pizza I made.

The Outdoor Wood-Fired Oven

Once we all had our pizzas ready, we headed outside to the wood-fired oven! The oven was at 900 degrees so we had to wait for it to cool to 700 to bake our pizzas. We ran over to The Baker's Store and went shopping while we waited!

I came back just in time to put my pizza in the oven. Susan helped me transfer it from the board to the pizza peel.

Then I carefully picked it up and transferred it to the oven.

Susan showed me to set the peel down toward the back of the oven and to quickly pull it out from under the pizza. You don't want to fling the pizza into the oven, or you'll just end up with a big mess.

The pizza cooks on one side for a few minutes, and then it needs to be turned. This is done by sliding the peel under it, pulling the pizza to the front of the oven, and quickly spinning it by hand.

How good does this look?

Everyone really enjoyed the pizza. I tried a few pieces of mine and brought the rest home to share with Jeff. I so wish we had one of those wood-burning ovens at home so I could recreate the flavor!

We really had a fabulous day. You'd be so surprised -- like many of us -- at how easy these recipes are. But the ease in making them in no way takes away from the perfect end results. We each left with a whole wood-fired pizza (well whole if you don't count the bites we took out of them!), four crackerbreads, and a pan of fudgy, delicious brownies -- all of which we made in a mere 5 hours, breaks, giggles, and snacking included.

We also took home these amazing goodie bags that Allison put together for us.

Mine had a T-shirt as a thank you for helping organize the event, and we all got whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, cake flour, a baking mix (I got Mudslide Cookies), a dough whisk, a bowl scraper, a copy of The Baking Sheet, and the Whole Grain Baking cookbook! I could not believe how generous these goodie bags were!

I also bought a few things at the store: instant yeast (which we used in the class), Italian-style flour, Queen Guinevere cake flour, perfect pasta flour blend, and buttermilk powder (I waste way too much buttermilk, and I'm hoping this will help). Somehow I made myself stick to the basics, though there were plenty of other things there I could have bought. The nice thing is that everything is available online too.

Proud of our accomplishments, shopped out, and ready for a little down time, we packed up the cars and drove to the Norwich B&B where we spent the night (more on that in a future post).

If you could take any sort of baking or cooking class, what would you want to learn?

If you're interested in events like this, let me know!