For the past two years, SFC’s The Happy Kitchen has been developing and piloting curriculum for a set of follow-up classes for past participants in our free six-week community classes.
The follow-up classes are a chance for participants to check in about the healthy habits that they learned about in the series, and to explore topics that aren’t always possible in our off-site classes. Hosting the classes in our Teaching Kitchen allows us to offer more hands-on practice, like in Knife Skills. In Cooking and Gardening with Herbs, we add a tour of our Kitchen Herb Garden and share seeds, cuttings, and tips for growing and preserving herbs. The topics for these classes were based on participant suggestions, and one thing that stood out on our surveys was that participants in our Spanish series were especially interested in baking.
By popular demand, this December, we offered Healthy Breads, Muffins, and Doughs to great success. Recipes included sweet potato muffins, chocolate cake, and pizza crust. We were fortunate to have Claudia Harding, former SFC staff member and current pastry school student, as one of our facilitators for this class and we asked her to tell us more about her experience.
What made you want to facilitate this class?
I wanted to facilitate this class, because it gave me the opportunity to share some of what I've learned in pastry school with participants of The Happy Kitchen. The participants in the classes are always eager to learn and we always have a good time trading stories of being in the kitchen.
This was one of our biggest classes. Why do you think it was so popular?
I think it was popular for two reasons. The first is that most of us have an affinity for baked goods, whether sweet or savory. There's something about the aroma from a fresh loaf of bread or homemade cake that is really comforting. The second reason being that while we're drawn to homemade goods, we're often intimidated by the process. Baking is a science and it does require some basic understanding of what's happening as ingredients react. However, that should not stop folks from trying. Sure it may seem easier to pick-up a ready-made cake mix at the store, but you can just as easily goof that up too.
What was your favorite recipe from the class?
The chocolate cake for sure! It was a really nice tender, not too sweet cake that we topped with freshly whipped cream and cherry jam. We wanted to show the participants that it's easy to make a celebration cake that isn't your typical two layer with jar frosting. There are definitely times when that's what you want, but it's nice to show folks that you can keep it simple and it will still be delicious.
Was there anything about the recipes or instruction that participants seemed especially excited about?
Honestly, they seemed excited about the whole class. As I mentioned earlier, most folks are intimidated by baking and think it's not in their skill set. They were so eager to see how everything was being made and asked really great questions.
Is there anything you would do differently if you were facilitating the class again?
As nerdy as it may sound, I think I would get into the science of baking a bit. For example, it really helps people understand what gluten is and the role it plays in baking. Or, why most cookie recipes have you cream sugar and butter together and the importance of that butter being room temperature. It's one of the things I've really enjoyed about school and I think it makes your baking better.