It seems incredible that 2011 is nearly over. Yesterday I taught the final class of the calendar year – a dinner party bread class – and the class felt like a dinner party, it went by so quickly with lots of chat and banter, good food and drink, and general lively cheer. If anyone doubts that the bulk of people in the world are good, kind, interesting, interested, curious, complicated and fun – they should really teach baking. Teaching dozens of people every month, we meet a lot of people here at Virtuous Bread. And each and every one of them (you) is amazing.
Basic bread continues to be the most popular class and I am pleased with that because it means people who have never baked before in their lives come and learn to bake bread. Many students have never bought bread again and that goes some way (baby steps but you have to start somewhere) to moving the needle on the white sliced bread in a bag consumption. Sourdough bread is also very popular and I have to say the interest in the bread is great but the interest in the crackers is overwhelming! For those of you who do not have a pokey Swedish rolling pin and cannot find one, a wonderful student, Tricia, found a child size one on Amazon in the children’s baking kit! Maybe not great for industrial quantities, she made 100 crackers the other day and it worked just fine and she can transport it easily back to her home in Kenya where she will be baking sourdough bread because not only is it hard to get good bread, it is also difficult to get yeast!
The speciality courses, I confess, were a harder sell. Ciabatta and Focaccia; Hot Cross Buns and Brioche; Dinner Party Bread and Christmas Bread were only about 1/2 full and I wonder why that is. Is it because there is less interest or because you feel you aren’t advanced enough for these? Let me know and let me also reassure you: bread is basic and fancy bread is simply bread in a fancy shape. Kneading together flour, water, salt and yeast is where it all begins – all of it. Every bit! So don’t be shy or scared. Everyone can make good bread and everyone can make good ciabatta, focaccia or anything else…
Bread Angels, people who commit to setting up a home baking business to provide good bread in their local community, hold a very special place at VB because they will, I hope, be teaching one day soon which means even more people can learn to bake bread. Not everyone wants to bake every day, nor every week, and maybe not at all but it’s a basic and essential life skill and it is the awareness of the ingredients and the process that is so important. Finally, it is the knowledge of those things that are as important to take away from a baking class at Virtuous Bread as the bread itself.
Thank you all for an amazing 2011. The winter schedule is up and the classes are selling out fast. I hope more bread angels will be teaching in the new year so that the bread love can be spread even wider. Here is to 2012.