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Learning by experience or cooking classes?

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Would anyone her recommend the KAF Fresh bread class (or other bread baking classes) at Sur la Table?

I have been baking bread here and there for the past 2-3 years. I've baked things like simple loaf breads like oatmeal or sandwich bread, cinnamon buns, dinner rolls, oatmeal walnut bread, and irish soda bread.

However, I live on my own and most of breads are eaten by me only and no one I know bakes bread. Would you recommend classes to improve one's technique and start baking more complicated breads or is it best to just go off videos and step by step tutorials found online?

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  1. If you have the budget for it, go to a class. I've not been to a Sur la Table class, but others I've attended were a lot of fun and were "hands on" so you learn by experience in the class (best of both worlds). You hear / learn not only from the instructor but also from your classmates and I got a great positive energy from those interactions. The fine-points you'll learn aren't necessarily predictable -- I once went to a seafood class and came away with a much easier technique for slicing bell peppers. And a determination to never make "blackened" (smoked in a skillet) seafood in my home kitchen. Even their commercial vent hood couldn't clear the smoke fast enough.

    1. If your interested in getting some training on bread baking...check out your local community college. Many have culinary programs and should have a bread class. I took one and it was great! It lasted 16 weeks...once a week...and only cost a little over $400. It is a bargain and you get training by a highly experienced chef.

      The instructor for my bread class taught full-time at an expensive culinary school nearby. I've taken classes at SLT and other places and you generally only learn a few recipes. They are pretty good...but compared to the class I took at the community college...it didn't compare.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AmyLearnsToCook

        Would love to have a community college nearby with a bread baking class! All I have near me are some fancy culinary schools with very expensive courses. Sur la Table sounded interesting cause I just pay to attend the classes I'm interested in and have the time to attend.

        They have a French bread class ( herb bread, country bread and baguette), a croissants class, pastry class, Italian bread class, etc so I guess that provides variation and I don't have to attend them all..too pricy!

      2. I'm going to my first KAF class this June. A group of us are going after one friend enjoyed the class she took. But I think a community ed class over several weeks would be better since it might deal with different kinds of bread. You never know what you are going to learn. I've taken Chinese cooking classes at community ed and mostly enjoyed it since the recipes were well tested and the teacher could answer questions.

        1. In this instance, I suspect your better off on your own because you already know how to do it and looking at recipes and playing on your own is the best thing you could do. If you can easily afford it, take it anyway so you can ask the instructor lots and lots of educated questions. Plus you will meet other local bakers.

          However, in general for something you are not familiar with a course or class would be wonderful.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            I was thinking maybe the croissants class sounds interesting cause I've been to scared to try that on my own.

            At the same time I don't want to be the only one lacking any experience in the class!

            1. re: alliels

              Classes are supposed to be educational and my experience has been that usually, someone with more experience is helpful. You might look for some YouTube videos and try some recipes. Make notes for questions to ask from the instructor.

              There's no guarantee you are going to like a specific class but I think it's better to give it a try rather than always wonder.

          2. If it is a "hands on" class then i think its a great way to learn new potentially difficult techniques.
            I think if you have time to try a bread at home that you will make in the class then you will be able to come with specific questions relevant to your home kitchen and equiptment.

            1. Classes are great but there is a lot of information here at CH and other places on the net including YouTube. You will learn a lot from jumping in and from mistakes you make. You can attend a lot of classes but if you don't repetitively practice a skill or technique it won't amount to much.