I have been to the land of King Arthur. I visited Avalon and Camelot, and saw Excalibur from afar. I walked its hallowed halls, baked in its beautiful wood burning oven, and even broke bread with its residents.
At this point, you’re thinking to yourself – Amber’s had one too many boozy Margarita Bars. But I promise – I went to this magical place. It really exists!
Last week I attended King Arthur Flour’s first ever blogging event, Blog & Bake. I have never been more excited to be a food blogger. I mean, the title of this blog is Bluebonnets and Brownies – it’s no secret that I love to bake.
But I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret – I’ve had major pie crust and yeast baking anxiety for years. I just knew, if anyone could cure me of these afflictions, it was the talented baking instructors at King Arthur’s Baking Education Center (which happens to be known internally as Camelot).
And you know what? I was right. For two solid days, we baked. And baked. And baked some more. We jumped right in – first up was two loaves of bread: one sandwich, one braided, from the same yeast-including recipe. I thought to myself, “Here. We. Go!” and said a silent prayer to the yeast Gods that I could do this.
Baking instructor Robyn Sargent’s calm and steady instruction put me at ease instantly. Before I knew it, I had kneaded two loaves of bread, by hand, and then turned one of them into a braided loaf. Amazing! Magical! (It *is* the land of Merlin, after all.)
Next we moved on to scones, which my partner in crime, Casey, and I, ended up terming the Scones of Doom. Seriously – this is one quick bread that she and I have each made individually at least 3 dozen times – but together, we were a calamity. Each of us throwing ingredients into the bowl, suddenly there was buttermilk before there was butter cut in, then half way through our final stir, we realized neither one of us had ever added the sugar! Let this be a lesson learned, folks – over confidence CAN defeat you before you start.
In the end, the scones’ texture wasn’t bad at all, but there were pockets of overly sweet dough in some spots, and flat out savory biscuit in other. Pretty funny stuff. I hope Casey doesn’t mind my letting the cat out of the bag on this one, but the story had to be told.
Over the rest of the day and the next, we made a Poolish, or pre-ferment, to add flavor to our pizza dough for lunch the next day, a butter pie crust for savory Tomato Pie, a sweet sugar butter crust for a strawberry-rhubarb tart, and most importantly, lots and lots of friends.
I know these two days were supposed to be about the flour, the baking, the technique – but I came away from Blog & Bake with so many new favorite people. The people who make up King Arthur: MJ, PJ, Robyn, Susan Miller, Allison, Terry, Michelle, Susan Reid and many many more, could not have been more welcoming, more gracious, more lovely.
My fellow bloggers and food writers: Maryellen, Kelsey, Casey, Fiona, Donna, Glenda, Corin, Jean, Jennifer and Aimee were each immediately friendly and ready with laughs and shared anxieties over – what else – pie crust!
And meeting Sara Moulton, well – talk about intimidating. Except that she’s as tiny and beautiful as Tinker Bell, and just as delightful. Her no-nonsense ‘let’s have fun!’ approach to food put everyone at ease, as did her eagerness to learn from the KAF instructors as much as the rest of us. She said it best – there’s cooking and there’s baking, and their processes are entirely different. We can always learn more.
Casey and Aimee being too cute for words!
Donna adds water to our pizza dough
Instructor Michelle stokes the flames of the wood burning oven we cooked our pizzas in.
That is one gorgeous pizza. I think it tasted better because every inch of it was made in Vermont, from the dough (by us) to the cheese, basil, and sauce.
The great news is I returned from Norwich, Vermont with a renewed excitement over baking and blogging. I’m excited to make more comprehensive baking recipes. A whole new world of baking ideas have opened up to me (and you) with the chasing away of my fears. I’m hoping, if you too suffer pie crust or yeast baking anxiety, I can help!
Tomorrow I’ll share with you the recipe for Savory Tomato Pie. Think pizza meets quiche. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and OH so delicious! I hope you’ll be back to check it out, because I’m going to teach you King Arthur Flour’s tricks to a good pie crust too, as well as why King Arthur Flour is the best flour to bake with (in my opinion).
I hope you’ll take the time to visit King Arthur’s site to learn about this wonderful, employee owned, passionate company, and also visit my fellow Blog & Bake attendees:
Love & Scraps
Recipes, Rantings and Ravings from a Vermont Kitchen
The Naptime Chef
Fitting great food into family life
Good. Food. Stories.
A chronicle of delicious conversations
A Boston Food Diary
Living abundantly on a frugal budget.
Vermont’s Independent Voice
Kittery Point, ME
for all things delicious!
Savoring the Thyme
The Apron Archives
vintage traditions in today’s homes and kitchens