Sunday, March 13, 2011

YOLO of the Month: February

Thanks to the magic of deal sites like Groupon and HomeRun, it's a little easier to YOLO these days, or at least get inspired to do so. Maura found a deal for a sourdough breadmaking class, so over President's Day weekend we headed up to the city so we could master one of San Francisco's most famous foods. 

The workshop took place in the back kitchen of this amazing panaderia, La Victoria, in the Mission.  Their tamales are amazing. But we weren't there to make tamales (unfortunately), and the workshop wasn't actually run by the proprietors of La Victoria (unfortunately). The workshop instructor (who never introduced himself, so I'm not sure of his name) is a bread expert who rents out the kitchen for these workshops and for his bread business. 

First step to breakmaking: combine water and flour. Next step, do something to the dough. Our instructor was clearly an amazing baker who knew a LOT about the science of breadmaking. However, he seemed to lack what we in the education world call "pedagogical content knowledge"--the knowledge not just of a subject itself, but of how to effectively teach the subject. He answered most questions with, "Well, whatever you do will really effect how the bread turns out" but with little detail as to what kind of effect that might be. 

Still, we made cute little loaves. 
I really do enjoy baking and have even taken my own forays into breadmaking. I don't do it very often because it's so time-consuming, but I can imagine myself getting more into it. I was hoping this workshop might help me out with that. But the more I listened to our instructor, the more I realized I should stick to easy baking. When he told us that a good loaf of bread should take about 24 hours to make, kneading once every half hour or so, that was enough to let me know that artisanal breadmaking is probably not the right-fit hobby for my lifestyle.

I baked my bread the following day--it first had to rise in the fridge and then on the counter. I'm not sure what happened because even following the instructions as precisely as I could the top still burned (the baking instructions weren't written down, so I had to rely on the notes Maura took on her phone). And, as Sarah noted, the inside "looks like real bread." So that's a good sign, right? It tasted like real (slightly-burned, not at all sourdough) bread too, so I guess I did indeed succeed in the goal of the workshop. If it had been amazing (not that they gave us a recipe or anything), I might have reconsidered dropping my breadmaking career. But given that I can get pretty delicious bread for relatively cheap at my local supermarket, I think this was the end.

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