Enjoy a bake-ation in Maine this Summer
The 4th annual Kneading Conference in Skowhegan Maine promises to be a great time again this summer. Last summer’s event was a blast so Denyce and I are heading back. It’s July 29th & 30th followed by the Artisan Bread Fair on the 30th. Conference attendance requires registration and a fee. Saturday’s bread fair is free and open to everyone.
An especially impressive group of bread baking, grain growing and wood oven luminaries are scheduled to present. Sumptuous, fresh and wholesome food in abundance awaits attendees with most of it prepared in several wood fired ovens provided by Maine Wood Heat. Besides the obvious wood fired bread and pizza, picture corn on the cob cooked in its own husks and fruit cobbler fresh out of an outdoor wood oven. With so much packed into 2 days, it’s necessary that there are several events taking place simultaneously. My only regret was not being able to attend them all. However we left more than satisfied and knowing we could always return.
If you can make it, you’ll learn a lot from any of the following presenters. Amazingly, even more will be lined up by the time of the conference. It’s a fairly kid friendly event too. One of the most impressive things I saw was children sitting with rapt attention through an entire baking presentation. The kids pizza workshop was a big hit.
Jeffrey Hamelman is one of only about 130 master bakers in America. Jeffrey will present a keynote about the challenges and rewards of working with local grains and also will talk about opening a successful bakery.
Dusty Dowse will explore the theory and practice of sourdough fermentation: how to start it, keep it, use it and hot how to convert your favorite yeast recipes to sourdough.
Richard Miscovich and Ciril Hitz, both from Johnson & Wales, haven’t named their topics yet but rest assured, they will return.
Dusty and Richard will team up to bake an array of breads for the Maine Artisan Bread Fair. A limited number of participants will find out what it is like to be a professional baker with a production deadline and a mission to maintain the highest quality edibles.
Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery invented a method for making delicious, artisan, no-knead bread and the New York Times made it famous. He will be here to lead us through the steps that produce this modern version of old-fashioned bread.
Doug Brown from Nova Scotia and Cate Conway will collaborate on a whole grain/ancient grains workshop. Never mind that their pastries are good for you – they are extraordinarily delicious.
Jim Amaral of Borealis Breads, the pioneer baker who convinced Maine farmers to restore grain cultivation on their farms, will compare Maxine wheat harvested from three different fields.
Jonathan Rubenstein, founder of Slice of Heaven Breads at Temple Sinai, watched Stu Silverstein have fun making pizza with kids last year and made a successful bid to teach Pizza with Kids in 2010.
Stu Silverstein will again teach people how to convert clay into an earth oven which will be auctioned to the highest bidder at the end of the workshop.
Pat Manley will conduct a workshop, actually building a brick oven. The oven’s core will be built over the two days and fired on Saturday. Each year Pat travels to Guatemala with Masons on a Mission to help families construct vented brick cookstoves for their homes.
Jonathan Stevens and Cheryl Maffei, owners of the Hungry Ghost Bakery, will teach flatbreads and crackers and reveal stories from their visits with French underground bakers.
Kelley Hughes, owner of Wildflours Bakery, will demonstrate how to make non-gluten pastries that in flavor rival their counterparts in the wheat world.
Stephen Lanzalotta will forego playing with dough this year to talk about his passion: the philosophy of artisan bread, and its root in the historical separation of the forest and the field.
Michael and Sandy Jubinsky, co-founders of Stone Turtle Baking and Cooking School, will share the secrets of two of France’s favorite breads, batards and boules, with hands-on participation so you can get the feel of the dough.
Douglas Coffin, owner of The Big Green Pizza Truck, has sent a tentative affirmative. He has grown a successful pizza catering business using wood-fired ovens built into restored vintage trucks.
At the heart of artisan bread lies quality grain:
Dr. Fred Kirschenmann’s keynote address will open the conference. Dr. Kirschenmann is a renowned farmer and author and serves as Distinguished Fellow of the Leopold Center and President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.
Dr. Steve Jones, a research scientist working on perennial wheat and a man who has his finger on the pulse of the national grain renaissance, will join us, back by popular demand.
Élisabeth Vachon and Sophie Beauchemin from Quebec’s family mill, La Meunerie Milanaise, will share the podium to talk about the Agronomics of Grain.
Mark Fulford, nationally renowned soil fertility expert, and Will Bonsall, the maestro of small scale grain growing, will extend their presentations into a second hour for questions and answers, something frequently requested by participants.
Eli Rogosa collects and conserves almost-extinct world landrace grains in the Mideast and Europe, and will give a workshop on wheat biodiversity and baking with gluten-safe einkorn. www.growseed.org
Mary-Howell Martens, and hopefully her husband Klaas (harvest permitting) will talk about the conversion of their diversified New York farm from conventional to organic methods.
Roger Jansen, a grist mill virtuoso, will return to demonstrate the endangered art of grist stone “battening” and other aspects of maintaining grist mills.
Here are some pictures we took last year and and a few minutes of video. Most of the video is of award winning baker, educator and author, Ciril Hitz, working his magic on some baguette dough. It’s impressive and humbling watching these true masters of bread baking handle the dough and explain some of the nuances of successful baking. More pictures and video are on the Conference web site.
Due to the growing popularity of the event, the venue will be changing this year to the Skowhegan Fair Grounds.