A Weekend Warrior at Bread Boot Camp (Part One)

The first of two posts about my wood fired baking workshop in Olympia, WA…

Batards and BoulesI’ve learned over the course of many years and many trips that travel is like dominoes.  If a day starts off ugly things generally get worse.  Thursday (Sept. 19th) is a travel day that begins with a thunderstorm at 1:15 AM.  After checking the time, making sure the roof isn’t leaking and getting a drink of water, I start mentally calculating how many hours I have left to sleep, which of course means zero.  We leave the house at 4 AM (don’t ask.)

My flight to Phoenix is delayed due to the plane’s altercation with a bird.  I keep thinking Just get out the Windex and clean it off…but apparently it actually cracked the windshield.  By the time they get another plane, load us all on it and fly to Phoenix, I’ve missed my connection to Seattle by about 5 minutes.  The next one is at 3:25 PM.  So instead of landing in Seattle at 2:45, I landed at 6:15.  Sprinting, I manage to make it to the 6:30 shuttle.  The nice man at the desk smiles at me and says the van is full but not to worry, I’m  automatically booked on the 7:30 departure.  We actually leave at 7 PM, me and two very quiet young ladies who, unlike me, are too shy to tell the driver we’re freezing and that we do not care to listen to wacko talk radio for the ninety-minute drive to Olympia.

It’s dark when we arrive at The Hains House B & B, so I can’t see much, but that big white farmhouse with a red front door and welcoming lights signals the end of a very long

day.  It’s 8:45 PM but Pat Hains feeds me muffins and scones, cheese and yogurt and hot chamomile tea, after which I fall into bed content and sleep like the dead.The Log Cabin Room



Dough for Garlic Rosemary BreadThere’s only one other person taking the class–a  guy from Portland named Vasu Upadhya, who will arrive this afternoon.  After a breakfast of oatmeal and hot tea, Pat and I knead garlic and rosemary into some bread dough that she’s already got rising and we weigh out the ingredients for pizza dough.  Her workhorse Hobart mixer has just been cleaned and the gizmo that raises and lowers the bowl is stuck so I run around taking photos of everything while she applies WD40 and we mix the pizza dough in her Plan B mixer, a Bosch, which is pretty impressive, but lacks the romance of the Hobart.

Pat attended the International Baking Academy in Weinheim, Germany because she had fallen in love with German bread while visiting her former in-laws in Germany.  She already had a wood fired oven because on a trip to Italy she’d fallen in love with the pizza, foccacia and bread and had taken a course there on wood fired baking.  Hmmm…a possible pattern emerging here.   Her Italian made oven presides over her back patio and is the focus of these workshops.  We’re due to fire it up at high noon, and I can’t wait.  So more later…

Much later, as it turns out.  My original brilliant idea was to blog every night after class with photos of the product we turned out that day.  File that one under Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.  Pat has quite an ambitious schedule of breads for our two and a half-day class.  In fact when Vasu arrives and she hands us our information packets, I mistakenly think the idea is to choose a few kinds of bread from the list.   Which includes:

Killer Whole Wheat Bread, White bread with Cranberries and Walnuts, Focaccia, Bagels, German Pretzels, German Pumpkin Seed Rolls, French Batards and Boules, Pizza and Cinnamon Rolls.

Choose among them?  No.  It seems I have unwittingly enrolled in Bread Boot Camp.

Details in Part Two…




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