If you’ve ever stayed at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, our Asheville, North Carolina inn, then you probably know James loves pizza. As a transplanted New Yorker this might be the one thing he really misses from the Big Apple. So when Abby told me that Dough Market was offering a Cooking Class in Pizza Making, I signed us right up!
Dough is kind of unique concept. They sell wonderful fresh pastries and breads, have a great line of pre-made dishes for you to take home and heat up, and they have a very thoughtful selection of specialty food, cheeses, wines and craft beers for sale. In addition to this they offer cooking classes in everything from the aforementioned pizza to Thai food, French Macaroons and beyond. Kind of like visiting your mom’s kitchen: you never know what will be in the fridge or what she will be making but you can be sure it will be delicious and, if you want, she will teach you how to make it!
The Kitchen Classroom at Dough is lovely. It’s a bright sunny room, spotlessly clean with a well-thought-out mirror which ensures that each of the maximum of ten students can clearly see what’s going on. (I actually think it was Julia Child who originated the idea of the mirror over the demonstration table for The French Chef, her first PBS cooking show in 1962, but I might be wrong!). Our instructor for the night was Daniel Deal. Daniel made his first pizza when he was 15 and never looked back. He is a good teacher with a careful and entertaining technique. In the early part of the lesson he showed us how to make a quick and easy “raw” sauce (no need to cook, it will cook on the pizza) and how to turn cheese curds into mozzarella. It is possible to make your own cheese curds but you can also buy them at Dough and at some Whole Foods Markets.
And at last it was time to get our hands dirty! I have made bread before, both using a bread machine and the old-fashioned, hard-work knead-it-forever-on the counter, way. But I’ve always bought pizza dough from a pizza shop or somewhere like Trader Joe’s. it was a surprise to me to learn that this dough is different from bread dough. It requires a light hand and minimal kneading. The hardest part is forming it into a ball for the final rise. If you don’t do it right, you risk getting air pockets in it which will create bubbles in your final pizza. After Daniel showed us how “easy” it is to toss and spin pizza dough, we all moved into the kitchen to make our pizza’s.
The pizza oven at Dough is so hot that the pizza will cook in about 8 minutes. But the pizza will taste just as good if you cook it more slowly in your oven at home. Daniel gave us boxes to take left-overs home but neither James’ pizza nor mine made it out of the shop. It was that good.
My take-away instead is to recommend this as a fun and informative way to spend an evening or afternoon. I’ve been to a lot of cooking classes and my main criteria for a good one is “did I learn anything?” The answer here is a resounding “yes”! But you don’t have to be an experienced cook to enjoy the lesson and to learn. Daniel and his assistants are good at making everyone feel capable and comfortable in the kitchen. Whether you are traveling to Asheville with a group or just spending a few days enjoying our city a class at Dough is worth the trip.