A Baker's Philosophy Lesson
Last weekend, a friend and I attended a class at the Culinary Institute of America, called Artisan Bread at Home. I'm a decent cook and can bake cakes and cookies, but bread has always frightened me. I've tried a couple and failed, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to learn a new skill. Little did I know, I'd learn so much more.
Lesson #1: You get out what you put in
One of the first questions a fellow student asked was how long will bread last once it is out of the oven? Our instructor, Craig Ponsford, answered with "the time you put into it is the time you get out." He meant that somewhat literally: if you make a bread with a 48 hour preferment (an advanced preparation of some of the final dough), your bread will be good for about 48 hours. But what truer words have ever been spoken about life in general?
My almost three year old son has autism, and we were fortunate enough to identify the signs early. This means that we have been able to get him the services he needs: in our case, 25 hours a week of intensive home therapy. It is tough on us when I have to wake him early so he can be ready for his 8 am session. There are days that he grabs my hand and pulls me to the door begging to go somewhere. I've given up all regular playdates, and have watched friendships slowly slip further and further away. But this is what is right for him. We're putting in the time now, banking on better results for the future.
Lesson #2: There are no absolutes
When you are making bread, you are dealing with natural products. Bread only has four main ingredients, flour, water, salt and yeast, and it is the ratio of these ingredients that determines the type of bread. But variations in these ingredients, as well as other conditions including temperature, equipment, and the people involved, are going to affect your outcomes. Skilled bakers know their craft. They can look at, smell, and touch a dough to know how it is developing, then make adjustments when necessary.Continued on the next page