Friday, September 25, 2009

The student's bring great joy . . .

Clemence Danko from France

It has been an exciting last week here at the BakeHouse. Today will be my last prep day and my last day to have a visitor. The amount of bread is tremendous as the shops are trying to get as many loaves as they can from the last bake tomorrow morning. I'm very grateful to have the helping hands of eager students!

Jeremy Thomas survives a 6 day crash course!

The joy I've received from each student is priceless. Their enthusiasm for this method of making a naturally leavened Sourdough bread convinces me that my desire to pass on this ancient way of making bread is important.

Janice Ewertsen gets some more hands on learning after just finishing the intensive 2 month Bread Course at FCI in NYC

Laszio from Hungary (left), Clemence's husband also joins the fun
as well as Jeremy's boss Brain (right) from Apple Ridge Farm in
Saylorsburg, PA.

Friday, September 4, 2009

When the teacher becomes the student . . . .

Teaching a class about keeping a Sourdough Culture The Health Shoppe in Morristown, NJ in the Spring of 2009.

I've entered in to the final stretch of my bread making in New Jersey. It feels a little emotional. And to make things a little more challenging, I've been having to really monitor one of my Sourdough Starters since the weather in NJ went from Dogs Days to Cool Fall Days . . . sudden change in temperature and humidity does not make for a happy, robust Sourdough Culture.
What it has done is make me rely on years of experience of making bread to make the right decisions when I do face this type of challenge. Boy do I remember the beginning days. I could see that there was something wrong with the bread, but I didn't have enough experience to know what to do about it! Ahhh, the learning curve.
I've had the pleasure these last few bake days to share my work day with several visitors. As they spend the day with me, I observe so much that reminds me of my first attempts at becoming a baker of Sourdough bread. Back then I couldn't get enough information, and by the end of my visit with an experienced baker my brain felt swollen!
Now the tables have turned and while I'm sharing and teaching these eager baker's, I'm relearning myself! When these students leave the BakeHouse, my brain is swollen, the adrenalin is flowing and I can't wait for the next set of students to come so I can share and learn some more! I'm discovering that the benefit I get from sharing my skill is priceless. I have been truly blessed by this opportunity and I'm looking forward to sharing my last week of baking in New Jersey with 6 more students.
And this past week, one of my students, an avid home baker, told me that he will be gifting me with a Fig Tree to take to New Mexico. He's so enthusiastic and excited about what he's learned from his visit. He built his own brick oven in his back yard based on the oven his mother had in her home in Tuscany! I will look forward to staying in touch with him as I will need his help in cultivating the Fig Tree! Thank you Mario!