Earlier this month, I traveled to Norwich, Vermont for King Arthur's Fall Harvest Conference. This event gave me the chance to explore a new area, take hands-on baking classes, and meet tons of other passionate bakers. I've always been a fan of King Arthur Flour, but what I love about the company is that their classes are always so personalized, educational and inspiring. I came home armed with tons of tips and new recipes to try in my own oven. Here's a few of my favorite takeaways from the event.
Time can be a baker's best ingredient
This was a consistent theme throughout all of my classes. The best bread, pizza and pie recipes all have one thing in common. Time. Time to let the dough rest... rise... or just chill in the fridge. This was a breakthrough baking moment for someone like me who is always on the go and trying to plan a new baking project around all my events. Sometimes the best technique is to kick back and let your dough (and your mind) relax.
Pizza dough likes a HOT oven
I took one class taught by Andrew Janjigian, Senior Editor at America's Test Kitchen, and learned how one basic pizza dough can be transformed into a number of different styles of pies. We made New York thin crust pizzas, Grandma-style pan pizza, a thick crust Sicilian pie, strombolis and calzones -- all with the same recipe. I've been putting the recipe in practice in my own home kitchen and working what I learned into a breakfast pizza recipe, which I'll be sharing on the blog in the coming weeks.
There's a reason to try bread made with fresh-milled flour
For someone who likes to cook with freshest ingredients possible, I don't know why I had never thought of baking with fresh-milled flour. At the conference, I fell in love with fresh-milled breads. Andrew Heyn, the owner of Elmore Mountain Bread, showed us how to make naturally leavened breads made with 100% freshly stone ground flour. I don't have my own wood-fired oven at home, but I can't wait to apply some of the practices that I learned.
Good lighting is a food photographer's best friend
I got to take several classes with the blogging and multimedia team at King Arthur which gave me tons of tips to help my photos and videos (to be coming soon!) shine on Picnic Perfect. The biggest takeaway for me was the value of good lighting in photography and video production. We practiced during class with some goodies from King Arthur and learned how natural light is so transformational in making baked goods look as delicious as they taste.
We're deciding what fall/winter events and classes to cover next. If you have a suggestion share it with us at @picnicperfectco.