This post's text and photos were contributed by our very own Chicago Amateur Bread Baker, Tiffany Middleton. Thank you, Tiffany! Follow her on Twitter @middletiff.
The “Homemade Bread Showcase” was a new event for Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers, and was, as you’ll see in a moment, a smashing success.
Inspired by our monthly “Taste-and-Tell” events, the Homemade Bread Showcase introduced our bakers and their bread to the public, and possibly to curious bakers who have contemplated attending a Taste-and-Tell, or have wondered what the Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers group is all about. The goal of the event was to raise awareness about the joys, benefits, and challenges of bread baking at home, while connecting our group with the community.
And connect we did! Six bakers set up shop to chat with the estimated 80-100 visitors who stopped in to sample delicious homemade bread. One early visitor named DeeDee, who enjoys baking and wanted to contribute to our event, hand-delivered three fresh-from-the-oven loaves of banana, blueberry, and zucchini bread. Quickbreads are not the focus of our bread-baking activities, but DeeDee’s contributions allowed us to discuss with visitors the differences between quick and yeasted breads. (More about quick vs. yeasted breads in a previous post.) Many of our guests could relate well to whipping up some banana bread, but had never worked with yeast, so having both there allowed our bakers to make connections and hopefully inspire some curiosity among the quickbread bakers in the community.
In addition to the delicious and moist quickbreads, our six bakers showcased a variety of equally enticing homemade breads:
Whole wheat walnut and chocolate chip, which received many compliments for its flavor—sweet without being too sweet.
Cracked whole wheat—cracked wheat (#2 for the cracked wheat aficionados) mixed into the dough provides some slightly crunchy texture to the loaf. Cracked wheat turns out to be a lovely substitute for nuts, for those bakers concerned about nut allergies.
Baguettes ready for sampling. Our baker was concerned about the shape of her loaves, but shape shmape, the taste did not disappoint!
Sourdough continues to be a fan favorite among our bakers. White and wheat sourdoughs are ready for sampling.
Challah on the chopping block for sampling.
Many loaves in a basket look beautiful, and contribute to the crowning spread at the Bread Showcase.
The Showcase truly was a community effort.
It was organized and billed as part of the second annual Andersonville Green Week. And special thanks to our sponsors who helped to make the Showcase possible:
Las Manos Gallery, who donated space for our event, with a luxurious backdrop of original art;
soon-to-open-in-the-neighborhood Urban Orchard, who donated 100 pounds of fresh-milled wheat flour and 12 pounds of fresh-milled cornmeal, which our bakers used in their recipes;
Gold’N Pear Catering, who kept our bread-parched palates moist with organic watermelon lime lemonade (delicious!) and ginger lemon iced tea;
and the textiles department of LillStreet Art Center, who loaned us colorful textiles to grace our tables.
As the evening wound down two hours later, and the bread loaves got shorter,
we packed up some leftovers to share with our generous sponsors, and perhaps left a crumb or two for this little guy, who let us take over his home for a couple of hours with nary a bark.
Thank you again to everyone who made the first Bread Showcase a success. Stay tuned for our next installment, the July Taste-and-Tell. This month’s theme: Breads that Forgo Slicing!