A bread-baking class at the House of Bread (HOB) in SLO provided me the joy of making a soulful loaf of bread and, equally important, enlightened the class about the health aspects of the loaf meant for sharing at the table. If you love bread and pastries as I do, just walk into HOB and delectable aromas wafting up your nose are sure to set off pangs of hunger. My mouth watered over the wonderful smells: yeast bread stuffed with apples, apricots, and vanilla; giant cinnamon rolls chockablock with raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon, covered with a frosty glaze; and the lumpy monkey-bread loaves weaved together with a bright raspberry puree.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- WHOLESOME AND HEALTHY : House of Breads owner Sheila McCann guides her students through the process of creating delicious and satisfying loaves.
HOB owner Sheila McCann offers an array of classes that include: baking basics, hard-crusted breads, sourdoughs, whole grains, and flatbreads. I attended the whole-grain-breads class, which is the only type of bread I’ve purchased for a decade. Students Holly Kelley, Lou Walters, Cindy Frauenheim, Corinna Korff, Ginna Baldiviez, and I introduced ourselves, then McCann led us over to her commercial-sized Hobart mixer filled with dough her bakers made. We watched the 30-pound dough hook easily cut into the dough, making short work of kneading it. When we all responded that we had small mixers at home, McCann quipped: “After kneading by hand today, you’ll appreciate it more when you’re making bread at home.” At various points she stopped the giant mixer to hand everyone a hunk of the dough to get to know its textural feel as it came together. “Baking bread is very difficult for people because you can’t always follow the recipe exactly,” she explained. “The amount of flour or water you add depends on the weather. If it’s humid you need less water, and when it’s very dry more water must be added.”
Each student made the HOB honey wholewheat recipe, which begins with a sponge. Once mixed we left it to rise while we worked with the first dough she started us on, making decadent cinnamon rolls, and monkey bread tossed with cinnamon chips, brown sugar, and oats. While those breads were baking we worked on our own doughs, following suggestions from McCann on additions. Corinna, a part-time employee there, chose dried apples and walnuts to stuff her bread. Holly, who started by saying she loves making bread for friends and family, made monkey bread, as did I. Once our breads were baking McCann tested us, and we were awarded a bag of her wonderful whole wheat flour to take home.
During baking discussion we learned that commercial bakeries use milled flours that reach temperatures of over 450 degrees, which destroys the natural flavors and nutrients within the wheat berry. HOB’s flour is stone ground, a low- heat process that preserves the flavors and nutrients. That’s why she uses the motto: “Where good taste comes naturally.” Another point McCann made was about honey. She prefers it to sugar because it’s a natural preservative, enhances flavor, and it offers some nutrients, unlike sugar.
- FIND IT HERE: House of Bread 299 Marsh St. SLO, 542-0255 Houseofbread.com
Our reward when class concluded was a bagfull of finished treats to take home. The talent behind HOB has been doing much more than baking delicious treats in SLO over the years. Her successful bakery now has five franchise locations, including Alaska, New Mexico, and Nevada, with three more to open soon, including Washington State. During the baking class I met her newest franchise owners John and Ginna Baldiviez from Anchorage, Alaska. According to Ginna they found House of Bread online simply by searching for franchise opportunities. The couple traveled to SLO to spend three days working at the House of Bread to see whether they liked it. They returned home, thought it over, and decided it was the right fit for them. “We’re here for a week, work with Sheila to learn everything from the business side to the baking,” Ginna explained. “The toughest part is getting up at 3:30 a.m. to work with the baker.” After the week of experiencing every aspect of the bakery and undergoing tests on it all, they’ll return to Anchorage and sign the lease for their site. “Once we’re ready to open, Sheila will spend the opening week with us to get us off on a good start.”
McCann’s classes cost $48 per person, returning students pay only $24, and there’s a $10 materials fee. The class lasts three-and-a-half hours, and you go home with an array of treats to share with family and workmates. To stay up to date, go online to houseofbread.com and sign up for McCann’s newsletter. Classes sell out quickly, so if you see one that sounds delicious, sign up as soon as you can. It’s a great way make new friends and break bread together. Of course, if you don’t have time to bake, HOB is there to provide a fresh loaf seven days a week.
You can reach New Times’ Cuisine columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org
Three awesome events—one weekend!
These three events are great for food-and-wine lovers; the difficulty will be choosing one over another.
SLO Wine & Grill Affair, Saturday, June 5
In its third year at Per Bacco Cellars in SLO, from noon to 4 p.m., guests will enjoy and judge wine and food pairings created by ten great local wineries. The panel of media judges, including me, will announce their chosen winner and the people’s choice. Wineries include: Ancient Peak, Baileyana/Tangent, Cerro Caliente, Clesi, Edna Valley Vineyards, Filipponi Ranch Cellars, Per Bacco, Salisbury, Sextant, and Wood. Proceeds benefit Transitions-Mental Heath Association; tickets at the gate are $40 each. Call 541-5144 or visit t-mha.org for information and tickets.
The Pinot & Paella Festival, Sunday, June 6
The seventh annual tasting of paellas from 18 of the Central Coast’s fine chefs also features 22 excellent Paso Robles Pinot Noir producers. Held at the Templeton Community Park, 2 to 5 p.m., you’ll be surprised at just how different these chefs can make them; some versions are strictly seafood, some versions include game. Tickets won’t be sold the day of the festival. Tickets are $65 each and must be purchased in advance online, details at pinotandpaella.com; late ticket purchases will be held at the will call booth at the festival.
The 3rd Annual Vodka Martini Shakedown, Sunday, June 6
Chef Doug and Shannon Macmillan, owners of Rosa’s Italian Ristorante in Pismo Beach, bring in the Central Coast’s most creative bartenders who make amazing martinis that may include chocolate, amaretto, peaches, and other surprises. You’ll taste them all while enjoying a buffet of Rosa’s good foods, plus live music and a raffle from noon to 3 p.m.. A benefit for Arroyo Grande High School’s culinary arts program, they advise ticket purchases be made in advance as space is limited. Tickets are $60 per person. For more information, call Rosa’s: 773-0551 or visit rosasrestaurant.com.