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American Pastry and Bread Baking Courses in Europe?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I'm a Dutch woman living in Spain (Europe) and ever since tasting bagels and muffins on a holiday in the States, I have been trying to turn my kitchen in a cofee shop bakery. I would love to take a pastry course, but at this point cannot afford to cross the ocean again. Does anyone have any advice on where in Europe I could learn to bake American bagels and muffins that laugh at cupcakes? It's becoming a google-crusade and really appreciate any suggestion you might have.

Greets,

Amelia
post #2 of 14
Welcome Amelia.

Unfortunately I don't have an answer to your question. I don't know that American cooking/baking classes are exported; although it's not a bad idea! More typically Americans go to Europe to learn European techniques.

I have tried to bring baking recipes back from the UK only to find they don't work too well here. The ingredients are different - the flour, the yeast, even the water - and if you have all the baking skills necessary to make US coffe shop style bagels, it's likely you won't get the same result.

That's not to say you can't make a good bagel in Spain but the recipe would have to be developed for local ingredients.

Good luck with your search.
post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmeliaTenby View Post

Hi,

I'm a Dutch woman living in Spain (Europe) and ever since tasting bagels and muffins on a holiday in the States, I have been trying to turn my kitchen in a cofee shop bakery. I would love to take a pastry course, but at this point cannot afford to cross the ocean again. Does anyone have any advice on where in Europe I could learn to bake American bagels and muffins that laugh at cupcakes? It's becoming a google-crusade and really appreciate any suggestion you might have.

Greets,

Amelia


I haven't made bagels in a few years, but this is extremely close to the recipe I used (can't find mine) and should work beautifully.

http://www.artisanbreadbaking.com/breads/bagels/bagels.htm

I've tried baking various yeast or starter based breads in different parts of the world and have found that the biggest variable is the water.  I'd suggest trying it with bottled water with a low mineral content and getting it to work properly before trying it with local tap water. The differing mineral and chemical content (chlorine, etc.) of tap water makes it unpredictable.

Bagels need high-protein flour. I'm not sure what you have available, but anything that makes good pizza and bread (12%-14%) should  be good for bagels. My personal preference is New Hope Mills Bread Flour, which is locally stone ground from local organically grown wheat. However I'm not sure their distribution network reaches all the way to Spain, since they still grind using water power, and only recently got a web site. 8-)

Let us know how it works out! I'm sure you can do it, and there's absolutely nothing like a warm, chewy golden brown bagel with some cream cheese, a couple of eggs and a cup of fresh coffee.

Terry
post #4 of 14
Well, I can help you out if you want to come to Italy!!!  But I don't have a school. 
I wish there were schools for this, because they try to sell stuff like muffins (taste like cupcakes, too sweet, one i had was full of candied fruit!!!) and brownies (dry and with practically no chocolate).  Obviously they don;t know how and I wish they did.  So i have to bake my own. 

But american sweets are not difficult and if you have a good cookbook you can really reproduce them easily - I recommend the standard ones first, for a home cook.  I learned cakes on the old 1950 version of the betty crocker cookbook.  (Don't go near the new ones, they';re not good, but i did get my daughter a reproduction of the original at amazon).  The cakes are foolproof.  Brownies, muffins, pies, they're all good and mainly the recipes are well-explained and work very well.  (The later editions use too many packaged ingredients.)   I've tried many other standard cookbooks, like joy of cooking and fannie farmer, but they give less consistently good results - the betty crocker cookbook recipes always came out perfectly for me.  Once you have the basic recipes, you can then go looking around for more. 

For bagels and other stuff you'll have to go further afield.  There are some other cookbooks that are also really good.  (Unfortunately, many of the fancier cookbooks are influenced by european cooking, and that's not what you're looking for. 

Rose Beranbaum has a cake book (The Cake Bible) that's really good - the best fudge cake I ever made is in there, and others, too.  I found some really good muffins in the cooks illustrated magazines and cookbook (Baking Illustrated) though i find they aren't always to my taste.  (Always add more salt than they say! their stuff always is short on salt.)  Bagels are not really hard, they just take a lot of time and a lot of work since they have to be kneaded, allowed to raise, shaped into bagels, raised again then boiled then baked.  Totally worth it, but you end up eating a whole batch in one sitting because they're so good!  Probably not advisable.   But you might freeze them, for instance, slicing them first. 

In the case of using these books in europe, if Italy is any indication, the flour is very different - our flour here in europe is "weaker" as compared to american flour which is "stronger" - that is, american flour is more suited to bread baking, has more gluten and so requires and takes more butter than european flour.  So if you make chocolate chip cookies, and pie crusts, in particular, you will have a greasy mess if you just use the recipe as is.  And cakes will be more dense and low-rising.  You need to significantly increase the flour and reduce the butter (european butter has less water, so it's greasier).  I'd say a tbsp more flour per cup for an american recipe.  A tbsp less butter per cup.  I can help you work out the weight equivalents, since each ingredient weighs differently so going from cups to grams is complicated - more grams for butter and sugar, less for flour and cocoa.  Once i figured out the butter/flour business, i could bake everything from american cookbooks here. 

So I don;t think you need a course (even if it would be fun).  I learned everything from cookbooks.  And another thing the old betty crocker cookbook had is good illustrations of basic techniques, which since they're different from european baking techniques sometimes, can be very useful.  Also that book was for a kitchen that was more like a european kitchen, with fewer gadgets, and fewer convenience foods.  It shows how to do some techniques by hand that modern ones only show with mixers. 
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot for the quick reactions!

 

It’s amazing how many factors can influence the result, but I’m happy to learn about them. The mention of the differences in flower and water make a lot of sense. In Spain they put a lot of chlorine in the water – and that’s the water I’ve been using…

 

The difference in flour seems a little harder to overcome. At the moment I’m experimenting with adding gluten to the flour myself (I’ve been told it’s the same stuff they use to make seitan). The last batch of bagels I made like that turned out pretty good. For muffins though, that would not be a good thing I guess, but they just never rise really prettily ...always looking like a boasting cupcake....

 

And Siduri, the Betty Crocker book looks great. I had a look in Amazon at the picture cookbook…it’s just beautiful! Especially the fact it was written for a different less “advanced” kitchen, seems really great. I don’t have a bread or kneading machine and they don’t sell things like baking spray here (which is fine by me). It’s nice to read that you have the same experience in Italy. I find it so strange that you seldomly find good muffins, or bagels. I'm sure there is a market for it...or for a baking school (sure you don't want to consider ;P). Really, thanks a lot for your explanations though. When I was living in Berlin I found a place where they sold heavenly muffins, done by an American lady, but she refused to share any secrets - ever since I have been asking any American acqaintances if they knew how to make muffins (I think that made me come across a little weird). But well, they were the best ones I tried. Anway, if you go to Berlin, let me know and I'll tell you where to find the muffins. If you pass by Madrid, let me know too :)

Oh, and I like the cup-measure because do not need to weigh anything. I found a measuring glass in a Chinese store with cup indication. As all recipees I use are American anyway, it hasn´t been a problem. At least, I think it hasn't been. Unless, that is not the way cups work....but it is, right?

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmeliaTenby View Post

Oh, and I like the cup-measure because do not need to weigh anything. I found a measuring glass in a Chinese store with cup indication. As all recipees I use are American anyway, it hasn´t been a problem. At least, I think it hasn't been. Unless, that is not the way cups work....but it is, right?


Most American recipes use cups, teaspoons, tablespoons for volume measurements, however this is something else that can drive you crazy if you're baking.


The actual contents of "a cup of flour" can vary tremendously depending on how tightly it's packed.. This might not make any difference if you know what you're baking and what the dough is supposed to look like (you can add a little more if it's too loose), however if you're baking something new, it's much easier and more consistent if you have a recipe that specifies everything as weights or percentages, where if you have a scale, you can be sure that what you're making is what was described in the recipe.

If you want to try some pizza dough (also makes nice bread), you can try my recipe. It's very detailed and if you follow the instructions, you should end up with some really nice crust that's crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with a great crumb.

Anyway, have fun! Let us know how it works out!

Terry



 

post #7 of 14
I'm with Amelia on the cups (sorry everyone else, i know i harp on this, but she's new!).  I hate to weigh, and if i have to half a measure, it's easier for me to do visually on a volume measure that is already in halves and quarters - with grams, i have to do arithmetic and if i wouldn;t have signed up for cooking if i had wanted to do math!

Yes, cups can be inaccurate, but as i say many times, for the home cook they are accurate enough.  And considering what i say about converting flours (strong flours and weak flours) you can't be accurate anyway.  If you follow the original recipe to the gram it won't come out well!
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmeliaTenby View Post


Oh, and I like the cup-measure because do not need to weigh anything. I found a measuring glass in a Chinese store with cup indication. As all recipees I use are American anyway, it hasn´t been a problem. At least, I think it hasn't been. Unless, that is not the way cups work....but it is, right?


You mention that you found a measuring "glass". In the US cup measures come in two kinds - glass jugs for liquid measures and scoop like cups for dry measures. You cannot accurately measure dry ingredients in a liquid cup measure.

post #9 of 14
Quote:You mention that you found a measuring "glass". In the US cup measures come in two kinds - glass jugs for liquid measures and scoop like cups for dry measures. You cannot accurately measure dry ingredients in a liquid cup measure.

What??!!  Volume is volume.  You can use exactly the same kind of cup measure for dry and liquid.  You're probably referring to the fact that dry ingredients have different mass, so the same volume would weigh more or less, but if the recipe calls for cups, you use a cup measure.  You can draw lines of cups on a glass, on a jug, on a plastic container or on an old jelly jar, a cup is a cup. 
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #10 of 14
I suspect he means it is difficult to measure dry ingredients accurately, as he says, in a measuring glass.  You can't use an edge to level off the measure, and the dry ingredients will not, um, settle as well as liquid does.  They will settle somewhat, but could still be sloping in such a way as to give an inaccurate read.  Still, for home cooking I'm sure it can be plenty close enough.  At home I use either style of measuring vessel interchangeably.

A cup is a cup is a cup.  If you need precision, measure dry with a scoop.  Otherwise, no worries.
post #11 of 14
Ah, Charron, yeah, i see what you mean. 
I have some dry measuring cups, actually, but never use them.  I shake the flour down very slightly and it really makes no difference in my end product, especially since i have to add more flour than the recipes call for anyway. 
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #12 of 14
Hi! Amelia,

Maybe you could try learning from american published books if you can access some.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
:D Wow, thanks a lot for the comments!
I'm waiting for the Betty Crocker Cookbook to arrive by post.

It is true that in the beginning the cups frustrated me, but I also get nervous when I have to be to accurate and precise. So now that I understood the concept I find it easier. And even though it will take me longer to become perfect, I prefer to cook with a little intuition than to be sure to the gramm.

Ok, but now I have some homework to do. Thanks a lot for the recipees, I'll try them and will let you know!!
post #14 of 14
Amelia, good luck with your research and experiments. I might suggest using bottled water (sin gas) instead of tap water which as you mentioned is heavily chlorinated in Spain. A lot of chlorine will affect the outcome of the bread.
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