Announcing the 2023 Kneading Conference
and baking in a wooden frame
I have spoken here multiple times about my love of the Maine Grain Alliance’s Kneading Conference, most extensively here:
Though I did do a remote workshop for the Kneading Conference last year, 2023 will mark the first time I will be teaching there in person since 2016. As always, the conference is the last Thursday & Friday in July, 7/27-28, at the Maine State Fairgrounds in Skowhegan, Maine. I’ll be teaching a 90-minute workshop on 7/28 which I am calling “Notes From a Future Bread Book,” as it will share some updates on what I’ve been discovering as I work up the recipes for Breaducation. (I don’t actually know yet what I’ll cover in the workshop, though I am thinking I’ll focus on flatbreads and other things that will cook quickly in the wood-fired ovens that most of us will be working in.)
My workshop should be fun, and I’d love to have you join me there, but it’s the rest of the lineup that is the real reason to attend. Here are just a few of the people presenting, many of whom are friends and/or have been featured here before:
Don Guerra, owner of Barrio Bread and 2022 James Beard “Outstanding Baker”award winner, will be giving the Keynote Address.
Dan Leader, owner of Bread Alone and author of numerous books, including Local Breads and Living Bread, is teaching a hands-on workshop.
Nora Allen, of NYC’s Mel the Bakery, is teaching a rye bread workshop.
Amy Halloran, the Flour Ambassador, author of The New Bread Basket, and writer of, is doing a practical workshop on baking ingredients.
Tara Jensen, of Flour Power fame, is teaching a workshop on stenciling and scoring breads.
Beesham Soogrin, aka Beesham The Baker, is teaching a workshop, the contents of which are still TBD.
Brian Lance, who works for Maine Grains, and Selene Tepatzi, of Atticus Bakery (who collaborated here on a Pan de Muerto story) are teaching a workshop on adapting family recipes to using regional grains.
Unlike the last few years, this Kneading Conference is in-person only; there’s no option to tune into any of the workshops remotely. Still, I hope you can make the journey up to Maine, it’s definitely worth the trip!
You can find out more and sign up right here.
This week I started working on an Irish/Scottish1 batch bread recipe for a secret and exciting future Wordloaf collaboration. One of the virtues of batch bread, aside from it being a fluffy, white, and soft-crumbed bread, is that the loaves are nestled together side-by-side in a large pan (i.e., in one “batch”), so that their sides remain pale and soft (not unlike a New England-style hot dog bun). Another way to achieve this on a smaller scale is to bake in a backrahmen, or “baking frame” in German. The one I have was made by the Etsy seller Kirwan Woodworking, who kindly sent me one a few years ago, and the batch bread is the first recipe I’ve cooked in it.
It’s made of four interlocking of slabs of maple that form a box, and three shorter pieces that can be used to divide the inner compartment. You coat the boards inside and out with oil or solid fat before each use, which keeps the bread from sticking and prevents the wood from warping or cracking; the wood darkens with use, but it doesn’t burn, even in a very hot oven. (And yes, that is a rock in one of the compartments in the photo above; I only had enough dough for three loaves, so I needed something to take the place of the fourth one.)
I’ve done a little digging around, and it seems like wooden backrahmens are unusual; most of those I’ve found online are metal, not wood. Has anyone else baked in a backrahmen or other wooden frame before? I’d love to learn more about this tradition. (The only other instance I can find of wooden bread baking molds are those thin wood baskets that brioche are sometimes baked in.)
I’m not qualified to say which culture this bread most belongs to, so for now I’m just going to say it is both Irish and Scottish.