by Sheridan Lane, interim director, LLCC culinary program and operations
Hello readers! I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as not only a new contributor to the Epicuriosity column, but also as Lincoln Land Community College’s new interim director of culinary program and operations. My background is equal parts hospitality, culinary, teacher, entrepreneur and farmer with the frame of reference that includes 50 percent country, 40 percent downtown Chicago and 10 percent world travel.
I am ecstatic to take on this role and very much look forward to serving the Springfield and surrounding communities as well as the greater culinary and hospitality industry. Furthermore, we also want to celebrate and congratulate Nancy Sweet, former director and regular contributor here, as she enters her new role at LLCC as interim dean of applied and emerging technologies.
This summer, many of you are likely shuttling kids and grandkids to and from summer camps, or, at the very least, you may remember a time when you attended a summer camp of your own. If summer camp was a positive experience, it left you feeling inspired, motivated and tired but with a few new friends, and, above all, with an added benefit of learning what makes you, you. While it has been two decades since I last attended a summer church camp, I was fortunate enough to revisit those feelings as I attended “Bread Camp.” Yes, Bread Camp! Let me first give you the “recipe” for this amazing camp.
Part 1 – Background
If you purchase any “run of the mill” (pun intended) flour from your local food store, chances are the flour follows the following path. The grain is grown and then hauled to a mill where the mill breaks the grain into its parts, removes many of the original parts of the grain, and then puts back enriching ingredients to make up for the nutrition that was removed during the milling process. This process yields much of the flour on our grocery store shelves. We have come to know it as being versatile and useful in many types of recipes.
In an effort to return to a much simpler process, “Bread Camp” came to light. Chefs and whole grain lovers are embracing flour with fewer steps. Whole grain flour is simple – less is removed when converting it from grain to flour so there isn’t a need to add anything back in the end.
Part 2 – “Bread Camp” ingredients
Promoters – The Farmer Chef Alliance, the Artisan Grain Collaborative, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, The Mill at Janie’s Farm and the National Honey Board all share an interest in bettering the food we enjoy – in this instance by teaching chefs about whole grains and baking with honey.
Attendees – Baking industry professionals from all over including the James Beard Award winning baker, Greg Wade from Publican Quality Bread in Chicago. If you aren’t familiar with the James Beard Awards, they are the equivalent of the Grammys or the Oscars but for the culinary world. Greg was right there teaching us about his amazing craft as well as the science of baking, all while using whole grains and honey – talk about inspiration!
Locals from Three Twigs Bakery were there to learn more about using whole grains as well.
Supporters – LLCC’s Culinary and Hospitality Center of Excellence and Danenberger Family Vineyards provided great facilities for learning.
Part 3 – The recipe and the yield
While there was an amazing line up of participants, Bread Camp’s real stars were two simple ingredients: whole grain flour and honey.
Bread Camp attendees learned a host of amazing information and techniques ultimately centered on transitioning baking practices to include more whole grains and honey – especially when sourced locally.
Let’s start with a bit about the amazing whole grain flour. Specifically at “Bread Camp,” we were using the whole grain flour from The Mill at Jamie’s Farm. Using whole grain flour in baking is different from traditional flour because many or all of the parts of the whole grain itself remain in the flour. Whole grain flour is packed with its original nutrition. We then added honey for sweetness to decrease the amount of granulated sugar in the recipe. The results or “the yield” were lovely. The flavors are more complex when using whole grains because you are, literally, tasting more of the grain.While many whole grain flours catch a bad reputation for being dry or cardboard-like, we learned the negative feedback has more to do with the recipe than the whole grain itself. Whole grain flours take a bit more liquid to make the texture equally as good, so recipes ready for “all-purpose flour” may need some tweaking to accommodate the whole grain flour.
Finally, as you go out and soak up all that the great outdoors has to offer this summer and into the fall, consider this simple graham cracker recipe made with whole grains and honey. Add your favorite chocolate candy and marshmallow to make it into a S’more, or love the simplicity of the cookie cracker by itself, dipped in chocolate, slathered in peanut butter and jelly, ground up as the crust for a delicious strawberry pie, as a cookie in homemade ice cream, or however you can imagine using this whole grain treat. And, it is easy enough to make ahead and freeze/store for future use. Baking with whole grain flour and utilizing honey are just two simple steps we can take to make life just as sweet while packing a bit more nutrition into our daily practice.
Homemade Honey Graham Crackers
3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oat flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 T. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 rounded tsp. baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) + 1 T COLD butter
1 cup honey
1/2 cup + 2T. water
1 T. vanilla
Directions: Place all dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse until mixtures are well incorporated and flour feels fine and soft. Transfer dry ingredients to a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment and “cut in” the butter. That means incorporate it well so that the texture is that of wet sand. Then, pulsing quickly (on, off, on, off) add wet ingredients until a dough forms. Press dough into a 9” square pan lined with plastic wrap. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Finally, remove chilled dough plastic wrap and roll out to 1/4” thickness. Slice into graham cracker rectangles and place on a baking sheet leaving space between cutouts. Bake at 300 degrees and check for soft but golden brown color.
Recipe modified for cooking at home and converted from professional recipe format provided during Springfield Bread Camp by the Farmer Chef Alliance and the Artisan Grain Collaborative.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry and non-credit community classes through the Culinary Institute. For more information visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts and www.llcc.edu/culinary-institute.