Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kim Ode - Nazi's and the King of Norway

Did I ever tell you guys about bread club?

About 10 years ago, I started this Saint Paul Bread Club thing where people come into my production space and I teach them to bake.....for free.

When I originally launched the concept, I envisioned many of my commercial baking colleagues pitching in as well, but the one question most of them asked was...

"If we don't charge people money, what's the point"?


Anyways, yesterday the theme was sourdough.

So 37 enthusiasts pile into the bakery around 10:30 a.m. and the lot of us mixed, scaled, proofed and baked 3 pound sourdough rye rounds.

As some of you know, I've been working a lot with Kvass, and yesterday I used it as the water (or liquid base) of our 75 pound dough.

As the club members pushed our works of art into the proof box, I asked them to gather around before we split into informal groups.

Our Kvass had fermented for 5 days and everybody could smell the booze like quality it produced. You might of thought we were working at some covert Kentucky moonshine shack.

"So hows all that booze going to affect our products peeps" I asked them.

Most of the members realized that the alcohol created from fermentation would work against the yeast.

"How about the flour y'all, are we going to have to compensate for that"?

Now things became a little quiet, but Klecko just jumped back onto his soap box.

"Most of the wheat that the Euro's use is low protein. That's why I used a Patent flour, it is more similar to what the French and Italians use. Most of it is Canadian grown, but in addition to that, 60% of our flour is the low protein Patent, but the remainder of the flour weight is dark rye, and how much protein does that have"?

Intelligent club members formed goose eggs signs with their fingers.

"That's right, no protein in rye huh"?

Tick - Tock goes the clock, and now the body of bakers move over by my Revent Convection ovens. We insert the sourdough inside the baking chamber and now will have close to 1/2 hour to kill.

Some people walk over to the make up tables and show loaves they have brought from home, while others like Kim Ode brought off shoots of their sourdough starter for people to examine.

Kim uses a liquid starter (which she has named Glinda)which she has in a large Tupperware container with a ladle. You would have thought it was a premiere carnival ride the way people stirred and sloshed ol' Glinda around.

Eventually I scream out that we are about to check the bread. I'm pretty sure the loaves are not completely done, but will my club members realize this?

So seconds before pulling the rack out of the Revent, I remind people to consider the components that we discussed earlier.....

*Low Protein Wheat

*Alcohol Liquid Base

Then an article I had read earlier in the week came to mind and I thought it was applicable......

"Who wants to hear about the Nazi's Rye Propoganda"?

Funny, even after 70 years, if you even mention the word Nazi....peoples expression becomes unnerved.

For the splittest of seconds my audience looked dumb struck, but I knew my intentions were informative, so I just laughed.

"At the beginning of WW2 the Germans had just come off a bumper Rye crop, and owned 20% of all the Rye on the planet. If you are going to war, food is kinda important. The Germans learned this from the first World War since they went into it without ample provisions.

But many of the Nazi's prior to WW2 were concerned that the Allies had wheat, and wheat was a grain with new technologies, it was the grain that was said would fuel giants.

So that's when they literally launched these bizarre campaigns showing Americans looking like huge doltish monsters going up against a much smaller....but better looking and more in control German soldier."

Now some of the class chuckles, but I insert that I wasn't trying to entertain.

I wanted people to realize the difference protein makes in our bread.

The loaves that contain high levels of it stand erect and hold proper form, while the loaves with lower levels sag and look dowdy.

Now I don't want to pass my self off as a nutritionist, but I'll bet their is a lot of truth in how this builds body mass.

As we pulled the loaves out, they were golden brown and had such a s-e-x-y look to them.

We couldn't of been happier.

As this was taking place, I note Kim Ode looking at her watch and she signals to me that its time for her to leave to an interview she must conduct.

Being a boy, and adding to the fact that I love her...I just couldn't resist.

"Kim, could you tell us why you have to leave early today"?

Sheepishly my B.F.F. lifts her head with a grin of excitement and replies.

"I have to go speak to the King of Norway. I was in Oslo last week writing about Norway, and now today is the follow up."

I'd be a liar if I didn't admit I was a little surprised when the class erupted in applause. I'm serious, they didn't merely clap....they "erupted" into applause.

So Kim Ode leaves, the rest of us pack bread, then I send everybody on their way.

It only takes about 45 minutes for me to clean up after one of these events, and most of that is washing dishes.

Whoever prepared my sinks for me went a little overboard with dish soap, the suds looked like shrubbery and almost reached my chin.

I couldn't even see what was in the water. Hoping there was no snakes or sharp knives in there, I cautiously pulled items out one at a time.

The first item was Kim Ode's ladle. Apparently she left Glinda behind so we could continue observing it in her absence....gee, that was swell of her.

But then next...LOL, I pulled out her Tupperware receptacle, and as I inserted the "Greenie" scrub pad into it I saw a piece of tape on the outside wall of the bowl, and on it, written in black permanent marker it said........


Just when you think you are at that point where you think you know everything about your best friend....the Gods throw a monkey wrench into your wheelhouse.

I would have never-ever-EVER thought that Kim Ode was "That Girl", the girl that marks her $3 Tupperware so it doesn't get lost, and then it occurred to me how everybody had a vault of weird behavior.

Some of it is fun to discover, while other portions might best be left in the dark.

So just as I began wondering what other secrets Kim was holding close to her chest, I does her husband John have pristine identification labels sewn onto his boxer waistband?

Then it happened, something that raised my BFF's new geek status to.....I'm not sure I can keep her in the girlfriend stable anymore.

That right, I pulled the Tupperware lid from the soap suds, and too had a Kim Ode tape label on it.

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha..............

Alright, my name is Danny Klecko and I am The Last American Baker


  1. I was raised that this was the considerate thing to do, to keep everyone from having to wonder "Whose cake pan is this?" after a funeral or wedding.

  2. are so Dakota.....I love it!

  3. OK, back to the Kvass! I wrote notes at bread club yesterday, but missed writing down how much Kvass we added to the sourdough rye we made??
    Thanks, Judy Dickerson

  4. Judy, I used KVASS as my entire water weight.

  5. Interesting stuff ... right down to the withering scorn