Today I had the great pleasure of attending my first cooking class at the L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland. I have been excited to take this course ever since I signed up about a month ago and today was the big day....and it lived up to all of my expectations. It was fabulous. Not only was it informative, but fun and delicious and I met some really nice people.
This course was on bread, which as I have mentioned in previous posts, is something I have only recently gotten into baking. My efforts so far haven't been too bad, with only one bad mishap with an attempt at Naan, but I certainly still have a lot to learn and I thought this would be a step in the right direction.
The class focused more on sweet breads, but we also made a foccacia as well. The first thing we did was to make the dough for a milk bread and also for a chocolate bread. Both are enhanced breads, but are not as rich as brioche (something I have yet to tackle, but am really looking forward to trying soon). The instructor said that the milk bread is a good substitute for brioche, when you don't want something quite as rich and when I tried this bread in its various forms I was very impressed. It was so light and fluffy, it was almost like sponge cake....lovely. And it is so versatile, you could do a million things with it.
In the class, we divided the two doughs in half and I got to take the half of the chocolate bread home, as we didn't need it. The other half of the chocolate was braided with the milk loaf, to create a fantastic, marbled looking bread. Very tasty as well.
The other half of the milk bread was used to make a poppyseed and apricot loaf, which was absolutely sensational. So, yummy and again, you could make almost any filling you wanted with this dough. We spread the dough as long as the loaf pan and about three times the width. Sprinkled poppyseeds and then spread over a dried apricot puree. The dough was then rolled up and placed in the pan to bake. This would be a perfect bread for afternoon or morning tea, but you could add any type of seed, nuts, dried fruit or fresh fruit that you wanted. You could also bake it as a loaf, or cut it up to make sweet rolls, which is what the instructor showed us with another batch of milk bread dough.
She had a pre-prepared dough that she rolled into little balls, put into a springform, then covered with streusal topping and blueberries. When this came out of the oven, it was pure heaven.
When I got home, I baked the other half of my chocolate bread. I decided to bake it like the instructor had done with the streusal rolls, so I made it into balls, put them in a springform pan and covered with raspberries. Again, a really versatile bread, that was so delicious.
Lastly, we made a walnut and raisin foccacia bread that was super tasty. We actually didn't bake the dough we made, but got to taste the one the instructor had prepared earlier, as this dough needed more rising time than the class allowed. So tomorrow I will bake this bread just before dinner, so we can have some fresh foccacia...yum!!
Hopefully this will be the first of many classes that I can take at the L'Academie de Cuisine. I am always hoping to improve my cooking skills and this was a fun, delicious way to do it :)