Two weeks ago I finally got to live my dream and take a bread making class at the International Culinary Center. They offer two day classes for students and alums (I am now an alum!) and teach you how to make a few basic French and Italian Breads. I am life long lover a breads, having spent my summers in Aix-en-Provence, France and learned the glories of a fresh baguette and butter early on. Eleven years ago, when I first started going to France, there was no comparison between French and American breads. Well perhaps there were a few producers, but they were few and far between- I always liked Eli’s breads, but venturing to his store was a bit of a trip and I always had an inner struggle when I gave him my money. Today I can proudly say, despite the rise of glutenphobes, new bread hubs are developing around this city. My current favorite, outside of the bread kitchen at my culinary school, is Maison Kayser. They are a chain from France and having tried their product in Paris, I can proudly say that they produce very similar product, if not virtually identical. Their baguettes are just lovely and their brioche with white chocolate is a sumptuously sweet journey in my mouth.
The take away from my bread class (other than a LOT of amazing bread) was this: bread, although rather intimidating to make, is relatively manageable to grasp in your home kitchen. It would be ideal if you had a stone and a mechanism to pump steam into your oven, but you can compromise and find other ways to do it. The New York Times has it’s famous “No Knead Bread” Recipe, which my Great Uncle used to make- and it was great. It’s certainly not something you make on a whim, but definitely a fun Sunday activity to do. And remember: BREAD IS NOT YOUR ENEMY. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.