Monday, October 24, 2011

King Arthur Flour and how I learned to love to bake

I attended King Arthur Flour's traveling baking demo this weekend in San Jose. My main purpose was to acquire a few skills for making pie crusts, which has long been a weakness. I learned a few tips, but also had a number of extras. I won the best door prize, a pair of Dansko shoes where I can pick anything I want from the catalog. [I donated the prize to Ann, who was thrilled to have an opportunity to get another paid of shoes, as I have a very high instep.] Anyone who has sampled my shortbread or molasses cookies has sampled their cookbooks and flours.

But the program that impressed me the most was their Life Skills Baking Program, which is an outreach program to 4th-7th graders to teach them to bake bread from scratch and to share the bread with others. To quote the King Arthur website, "Teaching to an audience of students in grades 4, 5, 6, and/or 7, a King Arthur Flour instructor and two student assistants present a 50-minute demonstration on the bread baking process. Then, each future baker takes home materials, including our nutritious whole-grain flour, and the know-how to get baking! Students bake two delicious loaves – one to enjoy, the other for donation to a community organization chosen by the school. King Arthur Flour brings this exciting program to schools free of charge."

I learned my love of baking in Mrs. Mack's third grade class. We made bread in the classroom one day during the winter. There were two loaves: all the kids had a piece of bread from one loaf with butter on it, and kids delivered a piece of the fresh warm bread to all the teachers in all the other classes. So I learned to love the smell of yeast and fresh bread at an early age. It's great to see King Arthur reaching out to students in this way. And even though San Jose is far from their home base in Vermont, they are looking for any excuse to visit the west coast during the long Vermont winter. They have a great program and people in California should be taking advantage of this and learning the joys of homemade bread.


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