I have to keep pinching myself and try to stop smiling so broadly as my cheeks are beginning to ache!
Because of my dear peeps of whom I derive my essence, my being, my determination to move forward each day (and you know who you are), I ventured out. All the way out to Bend, Oregon and the International School of Baking.
With the first four days of school under my belt and copious amounts of bread flour under my fingernails, in my hair and stuck to the bottoms and tops of my shoes, I am well on my way to that bakery I have always dreamed about.
Who knew what a little flour, water and salt could do for the insides of this girl? I have always known that horses, dogs, and wide open Wyoming spaces healed my soul everyday of my short life, thank you Jesus, and now this!
I have been planning for months with the thought of some sort of culinary program in my future. I had heard of the International School of Baking in an article I had read of a doctor in Torrington, WY that attended this school to fulfill a dream of a family bakery. I read this article a few years back and then could not remember the name of the school. I searched the internet numerous times and could never come up with it. Then last December it simply popped up on my computer screen. The very school ‘The Bread Doctor’ attended. I gobbled up the web site’s information and quickly dialed the number. The director, Marda Stoliar, answered immediately. She informed me she was on her way to Torrington, WY that very moment! WHAT? I told her that Construction Man and myself would try to get there as soon as we could to meet with her, see Ezdan’s bakery and sample his wares.
We jumped in the car and headed to the east side of the state. The meeting went spectacularly and from that moment on most conversation between the hubby and me has mostly encompassed the logistics of a bakery in Cody, WY.
Fired up, I have been non-stop baking up a storm practicing my pastry and bread baking arts. My sourdough starter has had quite a work out and it looks like increased, grand fermentation is in it’s very near future!
I left home on the third of April and had a very good day of travel. All flight connections, the rental car and the weather cooperated well enough to land me in Bend, OR at a nice, quiet lodge just outside of town.
The very next morning I was off for my first 8-10 hour day of doing something I truly enjoy… baking!
We braided Challah, 1 over 3, 2 over 3, 5 over 2. Marda, my teacher, believes you must create large quantities of each item. Number one reason- for practice, and secondly to begin the mindset of a real bakery setting where many loaves, muffins, etc. are made and sold daily. Not to mention the fact that in a real bakery setting you are always doing more than one project at a time. So in addition to this, we fashioned English muffins, an apricot glaze, and sponge for the next day’s bread. Before I knew it, the first day was under my apron strings! (Literally… 🙂 munch, munch, sample, sample) With aching feet, a tired back and a smile that couldn’t be squelched, I fell into bed quite early.
The second day went just as well creating a Black Peasant Bread, Olive Focaccia dusted with Fennel Pollen, bagel make-up for next day cooking/baking, and almond tart dough to place in the freezer until further use. And of course sponge for more bread. Thinking ahead, preparation and planning is the name of the game. Just like in training horses one step builds on another. No wasted motion. Moving forward, sometimes teeny, tiny baby steps… but still moving forward.
And so it went for two more days. Creating, baking, cleaning, eating. Eating. Eating. Did I mention eating? A friend texted me and asked if I was going to gain weight at baking school. I asked if she would still love me if I did. She replied, “only if you share!”
Today I rest and go have a look around this magnificent town of Bend. Many coffee shops and breweries. The landscape is wooded. Quite a contrast to the dry, rocky region I call my Wyoming home. There is much rain thus far and early spring flowers are coming on. The Deschutes River is beautiful and it smells green and alive here. I certainly miss my family and walks in the early morning around the ranch. Ahhh… springtime in Cody, WY… meadowlarks and red wing black birds singing away. Green grass poking through the sleepy, brown pastures. NOT!! It’s snowing and in the teens right now.
My homesickness won’t last for long as fast as these first days have passed. I will be home in no time baking, planning, ordering, renovating, and praying for these plans of whipping up my French roots in cowgirl boots! Operation, french bakery. Oh me, oh my, what an adventure!
But as for now, I need coffee. I’ll keep you in the loop here in Oregon.
Saddle up, Missy! We got a trail to blaze.