Minga Skills Hub – No-Knead Bread Baking

Minga Skill Building Hub finds locals who are knowledgeable in a certain skill and provide them with the space to share their skill with others. They find individuals who are yearning to learn a new skill and philosophies while meeting people or catching up with old friends. They bring both together by providing the space and materials for a hands-on skill building workshops to take place.

It has been more than a year since my first Minga class. The goat cheese making class with Greg had led me to think more deeply about food I eat, the source of food, and the idea that “if you put the best in, you’ll get the best out“.

Last sunday, Y & I attended our second Minga class.  As a bad Asian, I love bread more than rice. My favourite is those grainy nutty hearty breads with a toasty rustic crust, yet still soft and fluffy on the inside. Despite trying numerous fancy grocery store brands and local artisan bakery breads, I am still unsatisfied with the bread available in this market. I like breads with a wide variety of grains, nuts and seeds but these breads are usually so dense and rock hard on the inside! Life is hard enough – no one needs a hard bread.

As it has been a constant struggle finding the perfect balance of good texture and good nutrition in a loaf (sobs), I was so excited when I learned about this No-Knead Bread Baking workshop. I want to be able to have a good foundation recipe so that I can tweak it to my preference. Since commercial breads nowadays contain so many weird ingredients (ie. yoga mat in bread), it is probably better to start from scratch.

Ami, the founder of Minga Skills Hub, has been experimenting (for selected workshops) with a two-component payment system. 1) A fixed deposit to secure your spot in class and 2) A Pay-What-You-Think-Its-Worth after the class.

Pay-What-You-Think-Its-Worth. You get to enjoy the whole workshop. Then at the end of the workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to make an additional contribution to pay us what you felt the workshop was worth. In our past workshop, participants paid between $XX total for the workshop. We do this because the workshop may be more valuable to some than others and why should you both pay the same amount?

We also believe in changing the way that business is conducted and ultimately challenging our economic system.  We are challenging you to think deeply and honestly about the long-term value of what the workshop taught you and what it will bring you in your life.  We trust our community, and the excellence of our workshops, enough to let you determine what you’d like to pay.  Pay-What-It’s-Worth pricing makes no judgements about the financial abilities of the participants involved.

As usual, the workshop was held at the beautiful Artisanale French restaurant in Downtown Guelph.

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Richard Preiss is a University of Guelph student who was inspired to make really good bread through a combined passion for thrift, science, and good food. His curiosity has led him to learn about food and cooking as much as possible while in school. He has spent several years tinkering with his recipe for no-knead bread, and is proud of his progress. Richard believes that his experience with bread making will make it easy to teach people how to make beautiful, creative, and delicious bread at home, and inspire them to cook more and experiment in the kitchen.

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 The technique that we will follow is based on Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread, with some tricks and techniques introduced to make the process easier, more flexible, and more consistent. In this workshop, you’ll learn the steps to make an excellent loaf of rustic, no-knead bread. You’ll learn how to weigh and mix ingredients, how long to let the dough rise, how to shape it and how to support it while it rises again before baking.

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Due to time constraints, we first worked with Richard’s batch of dough. It was prepped the night before and had already risen beautifully. We then started to weigh ingredients to make our own dough. Although we learned part B before part A, I enjoyed this structure of the class as it minimized the waiting time we had.

You’ll get:

  • A batch of no-knead dough that you made yourself, which you can practice baking at home using your newly acquired skills.
  • Flexible instructions so that you can easily make excellent bread at home, as well as recipes that build upon the master recipe.
  • A fresh loaf of no-knead bread to take home and enjoy with friends and family.

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Recipe:

  1. 500g unbleached bread flour
  2. 10g salt
  3. 2g instant yeast
  4. 375g water @ room temperature

Mix till all ingredients are properly integrated – you should have a wet sticky dough.

Cover the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

The dough should rise significantly. Remove the dough from bowl, place it on a dusted surface, and gently stretch the dough up and outward, then fold into the center. Repeat this for all four edges.

Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes, then repeat procedure.

Generously dust a cotton or linen tea towel with flour (we used semolina). Lift the dough onto the towel with seam-side down and place covered dough into a large bowl to rise for 1 -2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450F and place a large heavy dutch oven pot into the oven while it preheats.

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As we waited for the dough to rise, lunch was served! It was a pleasant treat and surprise as I did not expect it at all.

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Ami shared some delicious farm fresh butter.

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A sample of breads baked by Richard – black & white sesame, almond flour, rye and stout. These are all varieties with tweaks to the base recipe. YUM! We also got an added bonus of moist banana bread.

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Finally… I enjoyed rustic and crusty bread with a soft and pillowy center. If a student can bake such outstanding delicious bread, I do not understand why Cambridge Mill has to buy grocery store bread.

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Paired with Richard’s butternut squash soup. What a gourmet lunch.

With the dough ready and pot preheated, put the dough on a parchment paper, slash the dough with a sharp knife and lift the dough by the corners of the parchment paper into the pot.

Cover the lid and bake for 30 minutes.

Then, take the lid off the pot and bake for another 15-20 minutes at 400F.

The results…

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Remove the pot from the oven and invert pot onto cooling rack.

Let bread cool for at least an hour before slicing. The load will crackle as it cools.

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What the finished product looked like. Y’s the top right and mine’s the bottom left. I slashed an X on my loaf, while Y tried to mimic the pattern of melon pan.

It was SO MUCH FUN! When we baked our own dough the next day, we could not muster any willpower to wait for the bread to cool. Teehee we ate it right away! We also purchased a dutch oven – I can definitely see ourselves making this frequently in the future.

If you are interested to take a Minga class, click here.

If you are interested to teach a Minga class, click here!

Thanks Ami and Richard for a fun-filled class!

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