Last Sunday, Dave and I had a lot of fun at a bread and butter making class at Swissbäkers in Allston, MA.  The class was taught by Thomas Stohr, one of the founders.  Thomas was a great teacher who kept the class interesting by interweaving stories into the instruction.  He told us how the bakery was founded, what they look for in their employees (you must love food!), and entertaining stories of his experiences at Swissbäkers.  Two hours was allocated for our class, but most of the work was finished in about 1.5 hours.

First, the butter…

Actually, first we all had to wash our hands!  But afterwards, we started on making the butter.  Our butter was made by shaking small glass jars that were filled about halfway with heavy cream.

You actually have to shake quite vigorously in order for a solid ball of butter to form.  Here’s what my butter looked like.  The remaining liquid you see is buttermilk, which can drained or drunk.

Next, the bread…

While most of the class was shaking their jars of heavy cream, a few members of the class helped divide each of the two rounds of prepared dough into 36 equal portions with the help of a machine.

Then each of us took our portions of dough and began to shape them.  Thomas walked around helping us create the shapes we wanted.  I learned how to braid bread.  There was another machine that would turn stretch a portion of dough into a long strand for you.  Dave and I both used this as long strands were good for the braids and pretzels we made.

Afterwards, we put the bread into a proofer and waited for the dough to rise.  When the dough had risen, it was time to put on egg wash and toppings.  For toppings, we were provided with sliced almonds, raisins, and pearl sugar.  The sugar was especially important since the dough was not sweetened.  Only a little bit of sugar had been added to the dough for yeast food.

Finally, the dough went into the oven for about 20 minutes.  Halfway through, each tray was turned so it would bake more evenly.  While the dough was baking, we were free to wander around the kitchen, or ask Thomas any questions we had.

Lastly, the eating!

Once our breads were done baking, the trays were pulled out and as soon as they were cool enough for us to touch, we put our breads in paper bags and headed out of the kitchen into the Lucerne room — a room with a mural of Lucerne, the city the founders are from — to enjoy our breads with a drink of our choice.  I had the hot chocolate which is made from imported Swiss chocolate and Dave had a mixed drink of half hot chocolate half coffee.  I must say, warm, freshly baked bread is delicious and even more delicious when you’ve made it yourself!

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