King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake 2013: Courage, creativity, and connections

Courtesy of Tiny Urban Kitchen.

As the organizer of King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake™, one of the many pleasures of the event is how it reignites my passion about the amazing baking resource that is King Arthur Flour. Sure, as a PR person I tell people day in and day out about our great classes, recipes, products, baking hotline, and more. But there’s just nothing like seeing – hearing, feeling – the excitement of a classroom full of newcomers so happy to be here and baking that they literally squeal with delight.

Courtesy of Tiny Urban Kitchen.

Courtesy of Tiny Urban Kitchen.

Even the pictures help me see our company from other perspectives, like the beautiful shots above from Jen at Tiny Urban Kitchen – how many times have I walked through that door and never noticed that view through it?! And the pizza bubbling in the wood-fired oven, oh my! It’s not every day most of us get to bake with fire, and the pizza class is definitely one of the highlights of the program.

PigsFWF

Courtesy of Foodie with Family.

Courtesy of Foodie with Family.

Courtesy of Foodie with Family.

But let’s step back to the beginning, because we had such a fun time together learning, baking, and eating that I can’t resist sharing it all. I mean, just look at those little piggies! We started our time together with a farm tour featuring Hogwash Farm and Killdeer Farm, both right in Norwich. As it turns out, there’s nothing like a bunch of adorable piglets to break the ice among a group of relative strangers!

Courtesy of Bake or Break.

Courtesy of Bake or Break.

After learning about some of the nuances of organic “dirt farming” at Killdeer Farm, we finally made our way to Camelot, where everyone had some snacks and browsed the Baker’s Store for a few minutes before heading to the classroom to get their hands into some dough. Remember that beautiful pizza we saw baking away in the wood-fired oven? The dough was started a full day before the bake – and the bloggers will attest to the amazing flavor generated by the long resting time.

Courtesy of Cooking with Books.

Courtesy of Cooking with Books.

Once the pizza preferment (starter) was ready to rest, we headed into the café for a very informative and delicious reception with our friends from Cabot Creamery Cooperative. After learning a little bit about dairy farming in Vermont and watching Chef Jimmy Kennedy make sweet and savory crêpes using Cabot butter and Greek-style yogurt, we enjoyed a wonderful meal of cheddar-ale soup, pulled pork, and berry crêpes for dessert. And, if you can believe it, then we made room to sample an assortment of eight Cabot cheeses along with cheese grader Craig Gile as we learned about Cabot flavor profiles! (We also managed to taste a few Harpoon brews with our meal – an excellent accompaniment!)

Courtesy of Spiced.

Courtesy of The Baker Chick.

PeopleHSR

Courtesy of Healthy Seasonal Recipes.

That night, everyone went back to the Norwich Inn and went to bed full, exhausted, and early. We had another long and exciting day ahead! Since it was their first real class in the Baking Education Center, we started off with some basics: white bread and whole-grain scones. One of the most important tips we learned was about measuring flour: A cup of all-purpose flour should weigh 4 1/4 ounces. If you’re not using a scale, we advocate the “fluff, sprinkle, sweep” method – first fluff the flour to aerate it, then sprinkle it into your dry measuring cup, then level it off without packing it down. Easy, accurate, and your baked goods will be lighter and moister. We’ve converted at least one of our blogger guests!

Courtesy of Bake or Break.

Courtesy of Bake or Break.

After bread, scones, and a lunchtime discussion about food blogging and social media, we headed to the test kitchen to learn all about different types of flour from Baking Sheet Editor Susan Reid. See all those muffins above? Same recipe, different flour. It’s a really neat way to show how different flours behave in terms of everything from rise and color to texture.

Courtesy of Foodie with Family.

Courtesy of Foodie with Family.

JenPizza

And then, on to our pizza party! See that peel Jen’s wielding? It’s long. Really long, because it has to reach all the way to the back of the wood-fired oven. Fortunately, we were able to safely load all of these amazing pizzas thanks to strict adherence to a simple rule: The peel has the right of way. (Or, as I like to say, stand back so you don’t get whacked!)

chopped

I’ll admit, the last day was my personal favorite. We started the morning with a “Chopped”-type pie class. The group was broken into three teams, each of which had a basket of Vermont ingredients to use in developing a pie recipe on the spot. After writing and baking their recipes, the teams swapped and each had to bake another’s recipe and offer feedback on how well the recipe was written. Everyone had a fun time working together and getting creative, but, as you can see above, the discussion and voting were serious business.

Courtesy of The Baker Chick.

Courtesy of The Baker Chick.

After lunch, one of my favorite sessions: blitz puff pastry. These spicy cheese straws were so buttery, flaky, cheesy, and crisp. Beyond being delicious and relatively fast to make, blitz puff pastry is wonderful in both sweet and savory applications – it’s one of those things you can really get creative with, letting your taste buds lead the way. Audra The Baker Chick shared a sweet version with detailed directions, in case you’re feeling inspired right now!

Courtesy of Foodie with Family.

Courtesy of Foodie with Family.

Last but far from least, we were treated to a very engaging demonstration from Chef Jerod Rockwell of Simon Pearce Restaurant in Quechee, Vermont. After cleaning up from the day of baking, we all went to the restaurant to enjoy a most amazing menu of Parmesan Gnocchi and Poached Shrimp with Maitake and Oyster Mushrooms and Tarragon Shellfish Nage; Misty Knoll Chicken Breast with Herb Spaetzle, Asparagus, Sour Cabbage, and Mustard Sauce; and Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine with Crème Anglaise, Candied Pecans and Orange Poached Cherries. Are you drooling yet?

GroupPic

Part of King Arthur Flour’s mission is to build community through baking. This power of baking to bring people together is evident through Blog & Bake, where more than a dozen people come together strangers and leave a few days later friends, bonded through the courageous and creative act of baking together.

We’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to bake, learn, and play with this year’s group of bloggers. We encourage you to get to know them, too – we think you’ll like them as much as we do!

Eva – Adventures in Cooking

Audra – The Baker Chick

David – Spiced

Rebecca – Foodie with Family

Erika – In Erika’s Kitchen

Brandy – Nutmeg Nanny

Carole – Heirloom Meals

Jennifer – Bake or Break

Marnely – Cooking with Books

Kate – Food Babbles

Jen – Tiny Urban Kitchen

Katie – Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Tara Bench – Food & Entertaining Director at Ladies’ Home Journal

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Allison Furbish
About

Allison Furbish is a native of the Upper Valley, where King Arthur Flour is based, and an avid lifelong baker especially enthusiastic about anything chocolate.

comments

  1. BurlapAndButterKnives

    This looks like an absolutely fantastic experience. What a lovely way to bring bloggers together as well as educate, ignite and fuel the passion for baking.

    Blitz dough is oddly enough one of my favorite things to bake, it is so versatile, it’s potential is limitless. I might just have to make some this weekend ;-)

    It’s funny, in all my time as a student at the Culinary Institute of America, I never knew what an amazing resource could be found in King Arthur Flour! I didn’t learn about everything you do until I started hearing about it from other small baking business owners and then from other food bloggers, and now I am just completely wow’d by how awesome you are. Thank you for being you! :-)

    Also I love Cabot Cheeses, they even get some of their dairy from local farms here. I’ve been behind their milk tank on several occasions ;-)
    It’s like being behind the Coca Cola truck. When they stop at the lights, you want to jump out and ask for free samples. :). We’re glad to know you now, and hope you’ll be a part of the family for a long time to come. ~ MJ

    Reply
  2. David @ Spiced

    This post is amazing! I really want to hop in my car right now and go back to Norwich!
    There will always be a place for you all at our tables. ~ MJ

    Reply
  3. meganchromik

    I cannot believe how much this program has evolved from that first year when a handful of us Boston bloggers trekked up to make pizza, brownies, and crackers. This is so amazing, Allison! I hope to get back soon to take more classes. Oh, and the piglets are completely adorable!
    It must almost be time for a reunion, right? Maybe we’ll see some of you over the summer. :) ~ MJ

    Thanks for being part of my test group, Megan! Keep in touch – I’d love to work with you again! -Allison

    Reply
  4. Jennifer @ Bake or Break

    What a great review of our Blog & Bake! I still find myself thinking about those three days. It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Thanks for inviting me! I learned so much and am happy to say I made some new friends!

    Thank you for coming to visit us! We were happy to host such a great group of bloggers.-Jon
    So glad you could join us, Jennifer! It was great to get to know you! -Allison

    Reply
  5. kristinrogers

    Such an amazing experience! I am adding attending the next Blog & Bake to my goals for 2014. Any guidance on making that happen would be fantastic. The Indianapolis Star pulls recipes from my blog http://www.blueskiesandlime.com and I’d love to write a feature on my King Arthur Flour adventure.

    What a fantastic goal to have! I am sure Allison (allison.furbish@kingarthurflour.com), our Web Media Coordinator would be more than happy to speak to you.-Jon

    Reply
  6. tamara891

    Looks like an awesome experience! I would love to take part in the next one you have. How can I learn more about participating?

    I am sure Allison would be more than happy to chat with you about the process!-Jon

    Reply
  7. JYRSHORTY

    Hi, I am a new user of King Arthur flour and I am here to tell you, that I use nothing else but King Arthur. I grew up using White Lily. I stumbled on to yours by accident and I have not looked back. It might cost more but, it is the best. Thanks.

    Thank you so much for the kinds words! I am glad we were able to make you a convert.-Jon ;)

    Reply
  8. katiu

    Ahhhh, yer killin’ me, here! I live in Minnesota. So far away! (and not a blogger)

    Well there is always a chance for a visit! Perhaps a mini Vermont vacation?-Jon

    Reply
  9. jronaldlee

    How do I sign up for the next time? I’m ready to book my travel. I have my camera ready, and my blog needs some fresh content.

    …not just saying that, either…

    I would send Allison Furbish an email, I have it linked in a few comments above!-Jon

    Reply
  10. "It's Not Easy Eating Green"

    Wow! What an amazing weekend! King Arthur is such an amazing resource for me, and your Whole Grain Baking cookbook is my baking bible! I’ve been meaning to make it up for one of your classes, and now I’m even more determined to get my blogging butt up there and take a class. I’m inspired by the pictures, and I love seeing some of my favorite bloggers in such a fun way! Thanks for sharing!

    We will be happy to have you when you pick a class to take!-Jon

    Reply
  11. kdavis808

    I attended the Quest for Cupcakes class last week, it was the most amazing experience I have had baking. It was worth the 7 hour drive to Norwich. The instructors were outstanding and the people in the class were fun and friendly. I will definitely come back again!

    Great to hear that we were worth the drive, we certainly try to make our classes as fun and educational as possible!-Jon

    Reply
  12. cre8ov

    Count me in too for 2014. I am sorry I didn’t know about this for this year. Would you let me know the dates as soon as you have them? The place I teach likes dates way in advance. I have taken bread classes in the past, but this looks like a blast. Like the yoga retreat I went on but the dough gets to be put in different shapes, not me! Adrian Seltzer – Delicious… http://www.cre8ov.com

    I would send our Wed Media Coordinator an email with your information and she will be able to provide a bit more information.-Jon

    Reply
  13. Handmade

    Would you share the lessons learned from using the different flours? I was unable to enlarge the pictures enough to see the products well. Were the same type of baking vessels used for all the recipes? KAF devotees would love to know some of the lessons these lucky participants learned. KAF, you are the BEST!
    First, the methodology. I used a smaller version of the All Star Muffins in the Baker’s Companion as my base recipe. I substituted the flours by volume, not weight, just as a home baker would likely do. Bake times were the same, with a check that the muffins were done. Portioning into greased cups the same also; all using the same scoop, washed between rounds.
    The upshot is this: Cake flour blend and Self-Rising were the most tender. All-purpose almost the same. Whole wheat substitution, (remember no modifications made) were drier and a little more crumbly (our whole grain recipes would use more liquid and a longer rest time for the batter before baking to soften the bran). Bread flour was the toughest, not surprisingly. Also a on the dry side, since the higher protein in the flour takes up more liquid. Susan

    Reply
  14. Lesliemak

    Looks like amazing fun! What an awesome class! As always, you guys are the best at bringing baking education to the table. :)

    Thanks – it was amazing fun! I hope you checked out all the great posts by our attendees! -Allison

    Reply
  15. Basilmomma Heather Tallman

    What a great event! I have followed along over the last few years when Carrie Burrill and Marnely Murray have attended and it was fun to watch their pictures pop up online!
    I would love to get a lesson or two from real bakers, I could certainly use it! I can make a lot of things, well, but bread and anything with yeast is not one of them. I would say, that over the last several years, using quality ingredients has really helped. I have learned so much from your website and use many of your recipes because I know they are tested and will be great!
    Thank you for sharing a bit of this fun weekend with all of us who couldn’t attend! I would love to get on a list for testing, recipe development and maybe even~ one of these classes!
    Visit me anytime at basilmomma.com, @Basilmomma, @ATKSRadio, Basilmomma on FB, Instagram and Pinterest and weekly on Around the Kitchen Sink Radio!

    Thanks for your comments, Heather! I’m glad we’ve become a trusted resource for you. I know we’ve worked together before, so feel free to send me an email and I’ll put you into my file for consideration for 2014! -Allison

    Reply
  16. katie @ HealthySeasonalRecipes

    What a great description of the flow of the event. Great choice of photography to include. I can’t say enough nice things about Blog and Bake. I really feel like I will be using the baking knowledge and inspiration for weeks, months and even years to come. I learned so much, had a great time, and made a lot of great new friends. I feel honored to have been included.

    Reply
  17. pemiller

    I have somewhat of a problem with your comment that one cup of all purpose flour should weigh 4-1/4 ounces.

    One of the earliest KAF recipes I used was The Easy No Knead Sticky Buns – a great recipe that yields delicious buns. It was the first recipe I saw that gave a weight conversion for the specified volume of flour – 6-3/4 cups = 33 ounces. Because the sticky buns baked so well and were so good, I took that ratio as my “gold standard” to use in all the KAF recipes I have tried – everything from pie dough to lemon twist to soft pretzel buns. And all the recipes have yielded great baked goods which I have made repeatedly. The only “problem” is that, when you divide 33 by 6.75, you will note that (based on the KAF Sticky Bun recipe), one cup of flour equals 4.89 ounces.

    I have checked every recipe I could find in your catalogs that gave a corresponding weight for the flour volume, and I have found a lot of variation – even two slightly different weights for the same volume of flour. The weights ranged from 4.0 ounces per cup to the 4.89 ounces I’ve been using since that first batch of sticky buns.

    However, what is interesting is that when I averaged the twenty different weights I had calculated, the resulting average was 4.246! So, that seems to support your “one cup of flour equals 4.25 ounces”

    My concern now is that if I cut back to that 4.25 ounces per cup ratio, all my doughs will be too wet and sticky unless I also cut back on the liquid
    I add. My thinking is to stay with my 4.89 ounces per cup of specified flour as we always are very pleased with the baked results. But, I have to wonder, does the extra flour I use result in heavier/less fluffy doughs that I might achieve using your ratio of 4.25 ounces per cup. Any suggestions?

    Phyllis
    Hi, Phyllis. Our 4 1/4 cup is an average, based on the method we describe as “fluff, sprinkle, and sweep”. It’s also the method we demonstrate on the website video. Some people weigh heavier cups of flour than others, depending on how much of each action they’re doing. When we were developing our weight charts, we kept track of the results of 4 to 6 different test baker’s results for the ingredients. Some people weighed 4 ounce cups of flour, some 4 1/2, but 4 1/4 was a very consistent average for us. If you’re dipping into your flour and sweeping the excess off the top, it’s likely you’re getting closer to 5 ounces, which is where your 4.89 is sitting. We’d suggest trying the 4 1/4 ounce measure. If you’re not happy with the texture of the dough you get (it’s going to be softer, but it will rise more quickly because the yeast has more water to work with), you can always add more flour. As long as the dough doesn’t stick to your hands as you try to work with it, you’re usually fine.
    Susan

    Reply
  18. BluebonnetBaker

    Oh man, this post kind of made me homesick! Blog and Bake is such a fantastic experience, and I was so honored to participate in its very first year. I’m grateful that you guys have continued, and made even better, the experience. Now, how about that reunion?!

    Love you guys x – Amber
    Amber, we miss you, too! Susan

    Reply
  19. waikikirie

    Oh boy….I wish I was a blogger so I could get invited. I will be checking out the blogs. I already follow Rebecca’s (great site) and am looking forward to getting to “know” the rest.

    Reply

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