Empowered Bread, Pies & Pastries
May 27-31, 2019
Faculty: Tara Jensen, of Smoke Signals Bakery
Empowered Bread, Pies and Pastries course is a playful look at baking as art, art as nourishment, and the role of community in both. We will explore place setting through the construction of a table that will become the centerpiece for a shared meal at the end of the course. Participants will work independently over the week on a bread, pie or pastry for the event, as well as choose a stenciled, collage or stamp element to bring to the table.
Contextualizing our food is how we fight back against industrial food systems that strip our food of meaning and history. We will take a look at one of our country’s oldest efforts to connect protest, art and bread: Bread & Puppet Theater. Thursday afternoon we will take a field trip to Glover, VT to see the museum at Bread & Puppet and speak with members of the company, as well as visit the Museum of Everyday Life, also in Glover.
The baking portion of our time will be devoted to three different sourdough breads, a sourdough pie crust, and a rustic puff pastry. Participants will become comfortable baking sourdough bread from scratch by hand, feel confident making an excellent pie crust, and achieve a delicate puff pastry made by hand with ease. Basic food science, wheat anatomy, flour choice and quality, and home milling will be covered. We will also work with bakers percentages and temperatures to create our own formulas from scratch.
Participants will create a sourdough starter from scratch and tend to it throughout the week. Together we will track our starters and observe the differences day to day. Adding starter to other baked goods to enhance flavor and texture will be covered in our pie crust and puff pastry. Naturally leavened baking as a way of life will be discussed within the larger context of slow food, social justice and ecological living.
Level: 200 / Beginner to Intermediate
Prerequisites: It is helpful for students to have some basic knowledge of sourdough and how it works along with the basics of pastry lamination. Practicing a loaf of bread, a pie crust and a puff pastry dough prior to attending is recommended, but not necessary.
Tuition & Fees: $1000 covers the cost of the class, most course materials, and three meals daily from our top-ranked Sterling Kitchen. Not included are airport transfers or housing accommodations.
Housing Availability & Fees: Housing availability is limited for this course and room requests will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. On-campus housing is $60 per night for a room with a private bath, and $50 per night for a room with a shared bath. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic/vintage/farmhouse style accommodations that are clean and safe but not luxurious. If you prefer to stay off-campus please see our accommodations page for local recommendations.
Tara Jensen runs the mobile, wood fired baking school, Smoke Signals. Jensen has been teaching sourdough bread, pastries and pies for over four years. Her book, A Baker’s Year, was hailed by Bon Appetit as a “stand out publication” on life and baking. Known on Instagram as @bakerhands, Jensen posts daily to over 100k baking enthusiasts. Prior to baking full time, Jensen created installation art dealing with gender, pop culture and wild spaces. Her last show, Lucky Fruit, took place in Tokyo in 2006. She recently moved to Southwestern Virginia and is renovating a house with her husband and two dogs.
(Portrait by: Ilana Freddye)