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The Baking Struggle Continues…

This past weekend, Chip and I ventured to Vermont to take a baking class at the King Arthur Baking School. The topic was A Flair for Éclairs and here is the description:

Norwich, Vermont

Do you crave these tender treats? They’re easier than you think to make! We’ll guide you through making the pastries, along with some fresh fillings and toppings to update the classic version.

Ok while these Vermonters are very kind and seemingly peaceful people, their home court advantage to a non-baker like me was intimidating. We have taken numerous cooking classes and the differences were staggering.

The cooking classes began in a laid-back environment and we were welcomed by a gregarious chef and a glass of wine. The overview of the menu we were about to prepare was descriptive and flexible based on the individual student’s pallet. On the other hand, the baking class began with warm welcome from Melanie who was also welcoming and kind. We were instructed to wash our hands and have a glass of water. The room was more sterile and serious. I was anxious.

When cooking, people are chatting and sharing the equipment and moving about from prep area to cook top or oven cooking. When baking, we stayed in our own area for the preparation. People were not too chatty. Melanie was great and her explanation of the various steps to making the éclairs was succinct and very non-intimidating. None the less, when it was my time to ‘pipe the batter’ to form the éclairs, I was nervous as Melanie made her way towards us. I glanced at my Fitbit and my pulse was at 96. Chip’s pulse was probably his usual 39 and I watched him moving calmly through the process somewhat like he maneuvers through a complicated excel spreadsheet.

I was sweating, and not from hot flashes. When it was time to make the batter, I ran to the walk-in cooler for a small reprieve.

When you take a cooking class, you sample as you go. You shred cheese, you eat cheese. You mix guacamole, you sure as heck dip a tortilla into that beautiful bowl of goodness. It’s quality control, right?

When we made the éclair filling, I looked around and all eyes were on Melanie for the next steps in the process. My eyes were there too but I had the spatula in my mouth…mm mm, delicious. Made ganache? Licked it. Made the final éclair? Bit it! Yum.

The final product was great and the class was so fun, I cannot wait to take another class but I need to be prepared first. Chip and I visited the King Arthur Flour shop the next morning and holy cow, it is a baker’s Disneyland. $100+ later and we were on our way to take on the challenge to make these at home.

Thank you, Melanie and King Arthur Baking School. I am not a baker yet but I am feeling a bit better about myself in general. Chocolate makes everything better, right?

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