The aroma of freshly baked bread is a marvelous thing, and Montclair business owner Rachel Crampsey can teach you how to bring that smell home.
Crampsey will teach the class Artisan Breads: Brioche & Challah at the Montclair Adult School on April 30. There is a fee to attend the class.
Crampsey owns the Montclair Bread Co., at 113 Walnut St., with her husband, Kevin. These Montclair residents have been baking breads there since May 2012, and have become a staple at the local farmers market during the warmer months.
Montclair Patch recently spoke with Crampsey, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, about baking breads and her upcoming class at the adult school.
What do you tell someone who is interested in baking bread for the first time?
Crampsey: It doesn’t have to be all about science and it doesn’t have to be scary!
One of the things I try to do in my class is take the scary out of baking. I think with breads, specifically, people think it has to be the right temperature and you have to weigh all the ingredients, but it doesn’t have to be so meticulous.
What I teach in my class is how to make the bread work with you and for you and on your schedule.
What are people most surprised about when they take a bread making class?
Crampsey: People will be surprised to see how quickly a bread dough can come together without using a mixer. We do everything by hand in the class.
The baking moves pretty quickly and it is very flavorful.
So baking bread doesn’t need special equipment, baking stones and other expensive gadgets?
Crampsey: Exactly. The only tools we’ll use are our hands.
How long would it take to make a really delicious bread in your own kitchen?
Crampsey: The one recipe I teach a lot is an artisan pizza dough, because it is easy and fun to do with kids.
The pizza dough would take two hours, but you are probably only touching it for 10 minutes. It kind of makes itself, and that’s what I teach people. You can speed it up if you had to; you could do it the day before; you could slow it down. I just try to teach people how to make it work with their schedule.
I see so-called artisan bread on store shelves all the time, shelves upon shelves of it. Is there any difference between that bread and the bread people can make at home?
Crampsey: Most store breads have the time taken out of the process. A lot of breads at the grocery store have that one flavor. Whereas real artisan breads that I make take a lot of time, which can add a variety of flavor and texture to the dough based on the different methods used to make them.
You could use the same exact recipe, but depending on the way you ferment it, you could make it taste five different ways.
Any tips you can suggest for those soon-to-be bread bakers out there reading this?
Crampsey: Color is flavor. If you get a nice brown on the crust, what you are doing is caramelizing the sugars and browning the protein in the dough so you are really going to taste it.
It is the difference between eating a spoonful of white sugar and a eating a caramel candy. The same thing happens in bread. You shouldn’t be afraid of cooking the bread a little longer and giving the crust some color.
What are the most popular breads at your store that Montclairions perennial purchase?
Crampsey: The French baguette, the ancient grain bread with nine grains and seeds, and the seeded Jewish rye covered in caraway seeds.
Rachel Crampsey is the owner of the Montclair Bread Co., located at 113 Walnut St. It is open Mondays from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays to Fridays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.