Yes, we got the James Beard nomination on Monday--fantastic news! The book is up against Alice Medrich's Pure Desserts (again, as it is in the IACP Awards), and Greg Patent's, A Baker's Odyssey. They are both excellent, beautiful books and both authors are previous James Beard winners. The awards will be announced on June 8th in NYC at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. I'll give a report on what it was like to be there, whether we win or not.
I have one new confirmed class to report, at King Arthur in Norwich, Vermont, on August 1st and 2nd--a two day wood fired brick oven pizza class. And we're close to firming up a class at Ramekins in Sonom on July 21st, subject still be determined. On Sunday, July 20th I will present a 90 minute whole grain bread demo class at COPIA, the wonderful food and wine center in the city of Napa. It will follow my presentation at the Taste3 conference the previous day. Tickets for Taste3 are about $2,000, so the COPIA class is a better value, for sure, but the Taste3 Conference should be amazing--check their website for more details and for the speaker's list: www.taste3.com . There will be more travel classes confirmed in the next few days, so I'll log on again next week with updates.
Meanwhile, here's an interesting e-mail from a serious home baker, Rainey Smith:
I forgot to add that I am getting great crusts by
pairing your <whole grain bread> recipe with Jim Lahey's concept of
baking in an enclosed container and skipping the tray of water.
I heat a pot along with the stone during the final
shaped rise. When the loaf is ready to go into the
oven I remove the pot. I have an opportunity to
slash the crust on the peel. Then I transfer the loaf
from the peel to the stone and turn the deep pot upside
down over it.
Sometimes I remove the pot for the final 10 minutes
or so of baking. Sometimes I don't bother. Either
way, I get crusts I have never gotten on whole grain
It's pretty exciting to take a technology that's
thousands of years old and add a dimension to it —
I find that taking the pot off is harder than getting
it on. To adjust for that, I push the pot with the
loaf under it over the side of the stone a bit. Since
the crust and structure are well-formed by that time,
it's no biggie. Then I can get a finger and a
potholder under the lip and lift it enough to get a
grip on the other side.
Remember NOT to touch it! I did that once with the
handle of a cast iron skillet I was baking an upside
down cake in. It seemed a natural enough thing to do
since that was the conventional approach to the
skillet. I slept with my whole hand in a bucket of
ice water that night!
Thanks Rainey. A great idea, and the pictures she sent me revealed beautiful loaves with a big, open crumb structure. As she said, though, be very careful when working with hot domes and such. I once did the same thing as she did and unconsciously tried to lift the the dome of my Cloche with a pot holder and not only burned my hand but also dropped and shattered the dome--that was $49.00 down the drain! Only made that mistake once....
If any of you try her ideas or come up with other innovations, please feel free to write and let me know if it's okay to share them with our readers: firstname.lastname@example.org
More to come soon, including a report on tomorow's Asheville Bread Festival. And good luck to our Coupe du Monde bread team in Paris--it all starts this weekend. Keep an eye out for the results.
May your bread always rise!