January 22, 2020

 

By TIFFANY WILSON

As participants waited patiently in classroom A at the Waterloo Region Museum, thoughts of doubt ran through some of their heads, as they scanned the room and saw that there were no ingredients, bowls or even a bread maker, just empty tables and chairs. 

How can we possibly make bread in here, was the question on everyone’s mind.

However, upon arrival, workshop leader, Amy Bradley, told everyone that they would be making and baking the three types of bread during the workshop in the Peter Martin House, located just behind the new museum in the Doon Heritage Village. It was a nice surprise. 

The group of nine marched their way down a narrow snowplowed path and stepped into the 1914 home where it was cold yet comforting. The room had a table covered with wax paper, a bench that if you sat on one edge, it would tip over like a see-saw, and a wood-fired oven, disbursing enough heat to warm the room up. Once seated, Bradley handed out three bread recipes – entire wheat and flour bread, corn bread and chocolate bread. 
While gathering utensils and ingredients, Bradley began the workshop by teaching how to read a historic recipe. 

“Our first ingredient is 2 C of scalded milk. Does anyone know the difference between scolded milk and scalded milk?” she asked. When there was little response from the participants, she went on to explain that scolded is when the milk is boiled and scalded is when the milk is almost to a boil.
  
Once everyone had washed their hands, it was time to prep the first loaf called entire wheat and flour bread. This was the historic recipe from the Fannie Farmer 1896 Cook Book.

Next step: combining ingredients into a large bowl.

According to the recipe, “(You) add sweetening and salt to milk, cool, and when lukewarm add dissolved yeast cake and flour; beat well, cover and let rise to double its bulk.”

Sound complicated? Not to participant Joanne Hasenpflug, as she compared watching her grandmother bake bread to watching it being done at the workshop.

“It is wonderful to see how easy it is to make. It doesn’t seem so bad,” she said. 

In saying this, the addition of each ingredient, the stirring and kneading was circulated around the table. Meaning, while one person poured 2¾ cups of white flour into the bowl, the next person would be “beating” the dough with their hands and so on.

Annie Legge, a passionate bread maker and participant, perceived bread baking as an art, but said it’s also therapeutic.

“If you are in a horrible mood and want to get out aggression, make bread,” she said.

Bradley also said she releases her aggression while kneading for the standard three to five minutes as it is a key part in the rising of the bread before it is put into the wood-fired oven.

Meanwhile, Christine Treichel, another workshop participant and avid bread maker, decided to partake in the workshop to experience other recipes and techniques.

“My kids are worried that I might come home with new recipes and ruin the ones I already bake,” she said.

However, one of the breads that could possibly win the hearts of children would be the chocolate bread, full of cocoa and pieces of chocolate. It is a wonderful bread that would serve well with tea or at breakfast, said Bradley. 
When the smells of beer (smell from the yeast) and chocolate filled the room, taste buds of the participants began to water. Bradley checked to see if the bread was ready to cut by turning the loaf upside down and knocking on the bottom, listening for a hollow sound. The loaf was ready.

As Bradley slowly sliced the freshly baked loaf into pieces, the aromas tickled the noses of the participants like the tastes of the breads tickled their insides. Raspberry and strawberry jams were prepared as spreads and water was in the kettle for a nice cup of tea.

After all the laughter and hard work, the group of nine gathered around the table and enjoyed critiquing each type of bread while they sipped on their warm beverage.

In the end, the participants left the Peter Martin House with knowledge, smiles and full stomachs.