2017 Maine Grain Alliance Workshop Series

Corn Tortilla Workshop, February 4th, 2017 1 – 4 pm

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Learn how to create incredible corn tortillas from scratch!  Along the way you’ll learn about the history and cultural significance of one of the worlds most important ancient grains, flint corn. Enjoy beautiful views over Casco Bay in Southern Maine Community College’s amazing baking kitchen in South Portland.  The workshop will end with tasting of your homemade tortillas with a side of traditional vegetarian posole.

When: February 4, 2017, 1-4PM
Where: Southern Maine Community College Baking Kitchen
Cost: $50

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About the workshop: Maize is one of the most important grains grown in the world today.  It fed this entire hemisphere for millennia, fueled the birth of ancient civilizations and inspired spiritual veneration.  This workshop will begin with a concise introduction to what is known about how, when and by whom this remarkable plant became domesticated and will briefly outline the cutting-edge science underlying how we know these things.  Corn’s utility as a foodstuff will be considered objectively, stressing the process of “nixtamalizion” (think “tamale”), a treatment with lime or wood ashes known since ancient times, which changes the simple starchy grain into a highly nutritious food.  Practical, hands-on techniques demonstrating all phases of tortilla preparation will occupy the bulk of the workshop.  If you have an apron, might be good to bring it along as we may not have enough.  To enable sampling the fresh tortillas properly, there will be a good quantity of vegetarian posole for lunch.  Posole is a Mesoamerican stew made with hominy, beans, herbs and chili peppers.  Meat will be available on the side.

About the presenter: Dusty Dowse, the workshop presenter, has been baking bread for nearly a half century.  Since his retirement (sort of) from his day job, which was being a Professor of Biology and Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Maine, he has opened Lammastide Bakers featuring artisan breads from a wood-fired masonry oven using local grains.  He has been fortunate to be able to transfer his scientific expertise over into his baking, including studies in sourdough and yeast microbiology and the physics of refractory materials and heat flow in ovens.  He is a charter Maine Grain Alliance board member and directs the Maine Artisan Bread Fair.  In addition to being the resident baking advisor, he directs the Grain Education Program for MGA.  He conducts the “Big Bake” every September at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair, making bread for the hundreds of volunteers in a field kitchen.

Corn Workshop Syllabus:

1:00  Coffee, snacks and introductions.

1:30  Formal presentation: The origin, history, types of and human association with corn.

2:00  Tortillas from scratch, kernel to griddle:  Nixtamalization, milling, pressing and baking; Making hominy; Use of prepared masa harina.  All hands-on, everybody gets to do everything…

3:30  Tasting, featuring the tortillas made in the workshop and a vegetarian posole (Mexican stew with beans, chili peppers and hominy).  There will be meat on the side for those who wish to add it.  Final discussions.

 2016 Maine Grain Alliance Workshop Series

Leavening Workshop
October 16 – 18, 2016
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The Maine Grain Alliance is pleased to offer a three-day workshop covering all aspects of leavening. For the first six thousand years of baking, we knew nothing about what leavened bread. It is only in the last century and a half that we have come to understand what is going on when we bake at the level of microorganisms and how they behave. As bakers, we are concerned with the taste and quality of our products and how we leaven the bread is tied for first place with the flour we use in affecting these properties. In this workshop we will explore what differences these techniques can make in a comprehensive way. We will use controlled identical recipes, mixing and baking procedures. The only variation will be the leavening and we will start with an unleavened version for comparison. On the way we will cover types of yeast, leavening techniques ranging from straight dough through biga, poolish, pate fermentee and pain al ancienne. We will look at sourdough and how to manipulate the acidity of the bread. Everyone from the beginning serious home baker to the established pro will find something here.

Meals: All meals included
Accommodations: N/A
Cost: $250
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The BIG Bake at the Common Ground Country Fair
September 21 – 24, 2016
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MGA is pleased to announce the fourth offering of this special workshop. We will be baking fresh bread on site to be given to the volunteers at Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener’s Common Ground Country Fair in Unity. Two years ago, we started offering this as a regular grain education workshop in our ongoing year-round series. Our resident baking advisor, Dusty Dowse, organizes a team of bakers, collects donations of wood, flour and yeast and sets up a field kitchen with two LePanyol 120 mobile wood-fired ovens. We begin baking on Wednesday afternoon, and continue through noon Saturday. You will have time to see the fair Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Participants are considered MOFGA volunteers and will get free admission to the Fair all three days, plus the Fair T shirt. Jeff Dec, a professional baker who was the formal team leader last year and will officiate again, will organize things. This will be an excellent opportunity to bake bread with the pros and learn about formulation, pre-ferments, mixing, shaping and baking. We will be producing breads originally formulated for the Fair by Dusty, but last year Jeff introduced some fun variations so expect the unexpected! Free camping is available on site. This is a total immersion in baking in a remarkable setting and must be experienced to understand its profound depth and breadth.

Meals: All meals included
Accommodations: Free Camping On-site
Additional: Free Common Ground Country Fair T-shirt
Cost: Free for the first 10 registrants
Register Now – This workshop is Full

 


 

2015 Maine Grain Alliance Workshop Series

The Old World Bakery
November 8-10, 2015
Workshop has passed

Artisan baking in the U.S. owes a great deal to our European heritage, but has taken on a character of its own.  Whether you are a serious home baker or are running your own shop, it is worthwhile to explore the original Old World techniques and varieties.  This two-day workshop will be a hands-on introduction to these ancient breads.  We will work with rye, buckwheat and barely in addition to wheat and consider pumpernickels, flatbreads peasant and country breads among others.  Bring your own favorite formula to share!

A Village Bakery
December 6-8, 2015
Workshop has passed

The Maine Grain Alliance is pleased to offer once again our two-day series of workshops covering all aspects of being the proprietor of a village artisan bakery.  The curriculum will be on target whether this is just a gleam in your eye or you have been in the business for years.  We have recruited expert professionals to cover marketing, financial management, equipment needs and, of course, hands-on production baking in our fully equipped bakery and kitchen.

Moving to Local Whole Grain Baking:
Science and Practice for the Home and Professional Artisan Baker
March 29-31, 2015
Workshop has passed

Having a line of whole grain breads is becoming increasingly important, but there are issues to overcome, especially when using locally grown varieties.  Flavor and protein content can vary unpredictably and using true “whole grains”, meaning 100% extraction, as opposed to the reconstituted varieties available from large suppliers, requires careful reformulation.  In addition, considerable market research is needed to establish which varieties will play well with the customer.  Pricing is also something that needs thought.  This two-day workshop will address each of these issues and include hands-on work with a variety of 100% extraction locally grown varieties.  We will be working in the MGA research bakery with equipment commonly available to the small artisan baker.

Thank you to Bangor Savings Bank for their sponsorship:
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