Ever have one of those times where you hear about an idea someone came up with and you just think to yourself, “Man! Why didn’t I come up with that?!” For me that’s happened with things like Post-Its or the Snuggie (don’t even try to make fun of the Snuggie, it is wonderful!)
I also had one of those moments recently when I learned more about Plate & Pitchfork, an awesome organization that hosts farm-to-fork dinners which include tours of local farms, learning how the food was prepared and then enjoying fantastically prepared meals made by top Portland-area chefs. It is such a great concept; it is no wonder that it has been so positively received by restaurateurs and guests alike.
But seriously, why didn’t I put a company like that together? 🙂 Well, even though I didn’t come up with the idea myself, at least I can still be a guest!
Even better, they recently started an off-shoot called ForkLift with more hands-on learning experiences. Their April event was basically made for me – a trip to Grand Central Bakery to gain some new baking skills and get a behind-the-scenes tour of their kitchen. If that wasn’t enough, the course also included a three-course dinner prepared by the talented Dolan Lane, Executive Chef of clarklewis.
The event on Sunday was hosted at Grand Central’s Fremont location in North Portland where they make the majority of their baked products like cookies, croissants and cinnamon rolls for their other locations. We were split into groups to get our hands dirty with flour and learn how to master pizza and bread dough, pie crust and Grand Central Bakery’s awesome “Jammers,” which are biscuits with jam set inside before the baking process.
The dough group prepared fresh baked bread topped with rosemary and olive oil for our dinner, the pie group made the dessert – a tasty rustic rhubarb tart, and the Jammers group made us all breakfast treats to take home. Meanwhile Dolan was putting together our amazing dinner, which we got to enjoy at the work tables inside the kitchen that were turned into dining room tables.
All in all, it was a fabulous evening and so much fun.
Co-owner Piper Davis and her team were awesome and gave great instructions on how to perfect these baking techniques. One of my favorite takeaways from Piper was that baking doesn’t have to be difficult, fussy or overly precise. You can use one base recipe like their simple pie crust and be creative with different fillings. No need to stick to an exact recipe. Just add what you like and have fun with it!
All of the recipes we learned are available in Grand Central’s awesome new cookbook, appropriately named “The Grand Central Baking Book.” Plus it has tons of other great recipes like Pecan Sticky Buns, Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies and savory Rosemary Bread Pudding.
And now next up on my agenda is attempting to make bread from scratch (and without a bread machine!). I was a little intimidated by making bread before but I’m feeling a little more confident after this class. So we’ll see how it goes! 🙂
Grand Central Bakery facts:
- 6 locations in Portland
- Fremont in North Portland
- Northwest on NW 22nd and York
- Sellwood on SE 13th
- Hawthorne and SE 22nd
- Irvington on NE 14th and Weidler
- 3 locations in Seattle
- Also at the NE Portland and Beaverton Farmer’s Markets
- Their baguettes are sold at tons of local grocery stores like Whole Foods, New Seasons and Fred Meyer and served at lots of great restaurants like The Heathman, Higgins and clarklewis
- Don’t want to do the baking yourself? Just purchase some of their “U-BAKE” pizza dough and pie crusts!