It was the brainchild of my son-in-law, Patrick. For my granddaughter and I to attend a class titled Wholehearted Baking: Whole Wheat Breads at King Arthur Flour's Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont. To learn together. To create a memory.
On Tuesday, November 19th from 10 am - 1 pm, we learned baking techniques in this impressive facilty as we measured, whisked, stirred, kneaded, and sprinkled our way through a batch of raisin scones and a loaf of whole wheat bread. Using a "bench knife" for the first time (shown being used by my granddaughter in two photos below), I learned its many uses including leveling flour in a measuring cup, cubing cold butter, dividing dough into chunks, scooping dough off a work surface, chopping chocolate or nuts, and cutting brownies or bars. The tool impressed me so much that I purchased one at the King Arthur Flour Baker's Store after class. Another tool, that we were given as a take-home gift, was a "bowl and dough scraper." Made from flexible plastic, its curved corners follow a bowl's contours making it ideal for mixing dough by folding over, thus preventing over zealous stirring which produces a tough product. The tool is also useful for scraping dough and flour off a work surface and, like the bench knife, it divides dough into loaves and portions rolls. Both tools are engraved with the King Arthur logo, so they are perfect remembrances of this memorable outing alongside the thoughtful kindness of my son-in-law, the priceless time spent with my granddaughter, and the useful skills that are directly transferrable to our home kitchens.
The significance of the vintage mixer postage stamp? Introduced in 1931, the Sunbeam Mixmaster was featured on a postage stamp in 1998. I have saved the stamp pictured in the photo since its issuance. Fifteen years I have kept track of this tiny treasure titled "Household Conveniences,"and then, from where I worked in the baking classroom, there on the wall hung a poster-size print of the postage stamp. (Enlarge the top left photo and you will see it hanging between the first and second windows.) The electric mixer represents a shift in focus. An increase in household income led to the capability of, and desire for, more leisure time. Modernization of small appliances such as mixers, waffle irons, toasters, and coffeemakers resulted in less time in the kitchen. A good thing? In some ways. In all respects? I think not. Note: If you should visit the King Arthur Flour Headquarters, head across the Connecticut River over a short bridge which connects the towns of Norwich, Vermont and Hanover, New Hampshire. Hanover is a quaint New England town that is home to Dartmouth (pronounced DART-mƏth), a private Ivy League university that is the 9th oldest college in the nation. A campus cafe features King Arthur Flour bakery products on its menu.