JONAS AND THE THIRDED BREAD
So, as usual the weather man got it wrong. Plymouth, Massachusetts, was going to get four inches, if that, on Saturday. So off I go, with my friend Barbara to the bread making workshop at Plimoth Plantation.
I left at 8:30 and picked her up and off we went. We got to Plymouth with no problem; however, when we checked into the motel the building next to it had a flooded parking area. The wind was so fierce you could barely stand to take a picture. We checked into the motel, that is right on the ocean, and then I dropped Barbara off at her friend’s house just down the road to have lunch while I baked bread.
I found the Craft Building and was greeted by Tani our instructor for the day. I had arrived early to make sure I was there before the snow started. The place looked a bit deserted; however, I was early. After taking off my coat, Kathleen Wall came through the kitchen door. We hugged and said our hellos. We had planned on taking the workshop on the same day.
Soon I found out that the other four people had canceled out so it was just Kathleen and myself. The class was to go from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. However, we started right in at 11:30 am, hoping to not get snowed it. It seems that the weatherman was now saying 6 to 12 inches of snow and flooding by the shore. Just Great!
Tani had the first batch of bread started from the night before in plastic tubs.
She showed us how to stretch the bread fold it in thirds and then thirds again and then it would rest.
This was done several times. We then took the dough and made a round ball which we threw as hard as we could on the table and turned it again. We kept turning the dough round and around making the bottom as smooth as the top. Into floured baskets they went. To rise once more.
In the craft workshop there is a huge bee hive oven heated, of course, by wood. Just waiting for our dough.
Kathy had started the oven and it was ready, so the coals were raked out. Because it was so hot, we needed to wait for the temperature to drop. The dough was slowly rising.
Tani is the new baker at the Plantation. She has a doctoral degree from Oxford and is a food historian. She says that “At Plimoth Plantation, her work comes together at the intersection of food and history.” Here we see Tani on the right) and Kathy, her helper checking out the oven for baking. They are using a wonderful Laser Infrared Thermometer.
On the right you see me putting flour on the peel so my dough won’t stick as I slide it into the oven.
I loved this sign in the room. According to the Plimoth Plantitation site, “This room has been dubbed Plimoth Bread Company. The facility opened September 26, as the culmination of a months-long renovation of the Plantation’s Craft Center. The result: visitors can get a taste of colonial-era baking techniques through daily demonstrations, special events, classes, workshops, and opportunities for participation year-round.” It is a wonderful space with lots of room to work. Hope you can go sometime and work with Tani.
We each made two loaves of bread, with Tani making them right alongside of us to show us how. With six loaves of bread, we needed to mark them. Here Kathleen marks her bread with her initial.
It was now about 1:00 pm, and the snow started blowing sideways in the wind.
We took turns putting our dough in the oven, and Kathy draped a wet cloth over the inside of the door to give some steam to the oven. An hour or so later we had nicely browned loaves. As you can see I was delighted with mine.
While they cooled, Tani, had made a loaf to be put in a bake kettle in the oven. This is for the students who do not have a bake oven at home. She heated it up and then put the dough in. Next she covered it with a iron lid for 20 minutes to keep in the steam. When she uncovered it the steam rose up from the pot. When it came out, as you can see, it looked as if you had baked it in a bee hive oven. I like her slashes on top. Of course, she is an expert with the knife.
Next Kathleen and I started more dough from scratch. Using a scale set for grams we measured out all of the different flours and corn meal and salt, into our plastic tubs. With our fingers we mixed this, and added the yeast and water. Then we mixed it with our hands until it was all incorporated. This batch of dough was to go home with us and be made fresh in our own ovens. Mine was going to be put into the refrigerator overnight in the Motel.
With the workshop over, I headed to the motel. The snow was getting deeper and the wind was coming off the bay horizontally and was filled with frozen bits of surf, mixed with snow that stung my face as I dragged my belongings into the building. As it turned out, overnight the total snow that fell was 11 inches. High tide was at 11 pm and it was wild. The surf was crashing on our door step. Both Barbara and I were sure they were going to evacuate us. By midnight, we knew we were okay and in for the night.
Morning came and the car was encased in saltwater/snow ice. After scraping the windows and such we headed back to New Hampshire. The trip may not have been easy, yet it was worth it. Plus we have a great story to tell when we get older, of the time Jonas tried to get the better of us.
When I got home, I started on my bread. I stretched it, folded it, threw it and rolled it. With my oven at 450 and the kettle warmed, in it went, I slashed the top and put a lid on. 20 minutes later I took off the lid and popped it back in. No steam! 20 minutes later it was done. Now, my flipping the dough into the pot was not as round as Tani, and my slashing leaves something to be desired; however, it tasted great.
There are still some opening in Tani’s workshops, and I highly recommend attending. Just don’t believe the weatherman.
As Julia Childs once said “The art of bread making can become a consuming hobby, and no matter how often and how many kinds one has made, there always seems to be something new to learn.”
I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with Tani and learn a few new tricks for making bread.