Video

What comes before focaccia? Before ciabatta and pizza? Quick video tells it.

Ciabatta, pizza and focaccia


It’s just three weeks before this Fall’s first artisan baking class at Bull Brook Keep!

What? You haven’t signed up yet!? Is it because you’re not sure you can bake great flavor, luscious crusts, and tender crumb in your home oven?

Never fear, my classes are designed for success in home ovens and for new, and experienced, bakers with busy schedules.

You can focus on breads built from poolish – a bubbly batter – used to make focaccia, ciabatta and pizza dough. Or you can get up to your elbows in flour to make the crispy crusts and delightful flavor of mild French sourdough. The basic formula can be used for all kinds of variations – with cornmeal, sweet potato, whole wheat, roasted beets, raisins and coriander, and more. In this class we explore two or three of these.

All classes are limited to 4-6 students because they are hands-on, include lunch, bottomless cups of tea or coffee, sampling and lots of conversation and fun.
All classes are held in my teaching kitchen. Our farm is an easy and scenic drive from the Twin Cities. And yes, you’ll see the cows.

Oh, about poolish and focaccia: here’s a 4-minute 50-second video that quickly illustrates the process.

Questions? Just give me a call. Want a private class? No problem. Get 4 to 6 people together and we can schedule it. What better way to warm up the house!
Sylvia
651-238-8525

Artisan baking classes scheduled for Oct., Nov. and Dec. Get up to your elbows in flour and fun!

Beef, bread and brewed tea. What can I say, I really enjoy all three.

Dave and I raise 100% grass-fed beef using sustainable practices because of the wonderful results: great-tasting beef, happy cows, restored pastures, living soil.
I love baking bread for similar reasons: using healthful ingredients; employing the power of sourdough to raise the dough and to combat many of the anti-nutrients that make breads, seeds and beans difficult to digest; listening to the “yumm’s” when friends and family savor the loaves, pizzas or biscuits; and, sharing the baking experience with students. YOU CAN all bake artisan loaves in your home oven.
Oh, and the tea? Well, I just like milky, sweet tea – English style.

Please click here for the schedule of baking classes in Oct., Nov., and Dec. Classes will focus either on baking with sourdough or baking with poolish (the basis for focaccia, ciabatta and pizza). Classes are hands-on (minimum 4, maximum 6 students, unless otherwise arranged).
Register online, or send me an email and pay with a check.
I’ll soon post the January and February schedules. Email me if you’d like an alert to the schedule.
You can also arrange for private classes with family and friends. Just contact me to schedule, 651-238-8525, sylvia@bullbrookkeep.com

Bring an apron and prepare to eat well, to get your hands covered in flour, and to have fun!
Sylvia

Audio

The benefits of sourdough breads of ancient grains w Therese Asmus

I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with Therese Asmus, of Artistta Homestead, is a long-time baker and teacher dedicated to the nutritional and flavorful benefits of sourdough breads made with ancient grains. She shares research and insights into the nutritional differences among ancient grains and contrasts their digestibility with commercially varieties.

Loaves made with ancient grains


She says many customers who can’t tolerate goods baked with conventional varieties can now enjoy bread again.
Sylvia

Audio

David S. Cargo: community ovens and classes to build portable wood-fired ovens

Always dreamed of pulling crisp, bubbling pizzas from your own wood-fired oven? Whether you live on a city lot or out in the country, David S. Cargo can show you how to build a portable oven in just a couple of hours. No special tools required. You’ll leave the class with know-how, new friends, and having enjoyed some freshly made pizza, pita and naan. Ya can’t beat just-baked artisan breads.

I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with David S. Cargo, professional baker, community oven enthusiast, and popular instructor. He’ll be holding his hands-on classes in five states this year, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. You can find his class schedule on his website, here.

Sylvia

A couple of newly constructed ovens

Baking French Sourdough – Class March 20, 9:00AM-1:00PM

SOLD OUT
By request, another sourdough bread baking class is scheduled for
March 20th, 9:00AM-1:00PM.
Where? The teaching kitchen at Bull Brook Keep, an easy ride from Minneapolis/St.Paul

Yes, you can made hearth bread -a French sourdough, and variations – in your home oven to fit your schedule.
Click here for more information and to register.
Class is hands-on and limited to 6 students.


Questions? Sylvia Burgos Toftness, 651-238-8525, sylvia@bullbrookkeep.com

Hearth breads made with poolish. Say, what?

Why is it that the hearth breads taste so good? Why do they have those wonderful brown crusts that crunch and shatter when you bite into them? And those holes! When you slice or tear them, their interiors are filled with large glossy holes perfect for holding butter and olive oil and tapenades. Why can’t you make them at home? Do you really need a wood-fired oven?

Hold on…let’s get rid of the myth first. You can bake hearth breads in your home oven. It’s not rocket science, but like anything worthwhile, hearth baking takes a bit of planning and time. Fortunately, however, you’re not chained to your kitchen. On the contrary; you use time, temperature and wet doughs to bend the bread-making process to fit into your schedule.
One strategy is using a pre-ferment – a portion of the total dough that’s mixed hours ahead of the bake. Why? Because a long contact between the water and flour helps free up more of the starches, sugars and proteins that help create great flavor. A pre-ferment also gives the loaf a longer shelf life.
One type of pre-ferment is called a poolish. (Some bread experts believe the term is of Polish origin, hence the name.)

Easy to make poolish starter (pre-ferment)

Easy to make poolish starter (pre-ferment)

It’s an easy-to-make batter made with flour, water and a tiny bit of yeast. You make it 4-16 hours before making the final dough. During those hours, it ferments on your kitchen counter or in your frig, a cold closet or in a chilly root cellar. The colder you keep it, the longer you can extend this process. You can tell it’s ready to use when the thick batter’s filled with bubbles and smells sweet.
When you’re ready to bake, you combine the poolish with the rest of your flour, additional water, sometimes a smidge of yeast, and salt to make up the final dough.
Focaccia with herb oil and freshly cracked salt

Focaccia with herb oil and freshly cracked salt

Loaves made with poolish include ciabatta, pizza, focaccia and other rustic breads.

Learn to make hearth breads using poolish at my hands-on class Tuesday, February 16 at Bull Brook Keep. I’m also holding a class on sourdough breads February 20. Classes are limited to 5 students. For details and to sign up, click here.
Sylvia

Of snow plowing and sourdough baking

Feb. 3, 7:00AM
Last night, before shuffling off to bed, put two baskets of raw dough into the very chilly root cellar for a slow rise. (Could’ve used the frig, but it’s packed right now.) I also set the oven to pre-heat to 500 degrees by sun up this morning.

The snow was still falling horizontally at 11PM, driven by a strong and nasty north wind. A quick flick of the deck light told the tale: sloping drifts packed hard as cement.
The snow fall had started benignly enough yesterday at about noon – big, beautiful flakes swirling over the fields. And although it was falling heavily, I could still see the cows munching on bales of hay on a distant pasture. No more. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, 20+ mph winds built drifts 2 1/2 feet high in some spots, and left bare ice patches here and there. February.

I went to bed knowing I’d have to spend lots of time in the tractor today; first plowing the long driveway, and then clearing pathways across fields and ditches to get hay to the herd. I’d have to fit my bread baking into the needs of the day. It’s why I set the oven to pre-heat. The first loaf is nearly done.

Fortunately, bending the bread-baking process is something I – and you – can do by baking with very wet doughs, and using temperature and time to determine how quickly we want the the dough to rise. We can use these factors – water content, temp and time – to create loaves with crispy crusts and tender crumb (the insides) that are open, airy and delicious. In fact, a goal is big, glossy holes – a sign that the bread had a good, long rise that took full advantage of all the proteins and sugars in the flour.

The second loaf, a nice round boule, is in the oven. 15 minutes to go.

French sourdough boules

French sourdough boules

A fresh batch of thick and frothy sourdough starter sits on the counter nearly ready to combine with bread flour, semolina flour and water for loaves I’ll make later today. And then there’s the big bowl of bubbling poolish – another type of yeast mixture – I’ll use to make either ciabatta, focaccia, pizza or some other type of rustic loaves. I’ll slip these starters into the 45-degree root cellar to slow their activity and keep them strong and fresh for baking later today, after I’ve moved some snow.

Baking great hearth breads in your home oven to fit your busy schedule. You can do it, too Sign up and learn how. Hands-on classes Feb. 13 and 20.

8:09AM and the first two loaves are out of the oven. If you listen closely, you can hear the crusts crackling as they cool – it’s called the “bread song.”

Now, to plow.

Sylvia