You may know King Arthur Baking Company for their flour, baking mixes, or recipes – but did you know they also offer baking classes? Pre-pandemic, they offered in-person baking classes at their Norwich, VT and Skagit Valley, WA locations. When the pandemic hit, they pivoted to offer virtual classes. Now they offer a mixture of both. These classes are an excellent way to learn techniques and make King Arthur recipes with the guidance of an instructor who can give you real-time feedback as you bake. They are tons of fun and the virtual classes even allow you to download the video recording of the class so you can watch it back at a later date!
As part of an early Christmas gift to ourselves, we signed up for 4 virtual King Arthur Baking School classes, one each Saturday of November 2021. We had a blast and wanted to share pictures of our creations as well as some reviews of the classes.
- Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls – Nov 6, 2021
- Bagels – Nov 13, 2021
- Biscuits & Scones – Nov 20, 2021
- Sticky Fingers: Breakfast Buns – Nov 27, 2021
- The Bottom Line
Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls on Nov 6, 2021
King Arthur’s 2021 Recipe of the Year was their Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls, so it was only fitting for our first baking class. This class was 2.5 hours and cost $65 (pricing is per kitchen, not per person, so we paid $65 for one Zoom login).
We had heard of the tangzhong technique before, and its wonderful properties of allowing bread to maintain its suppleness over days without staling, but had never actually put it into practice until this class. We are very glad that we had an instructor who showed us on camera the consistency we were looking to achieve with the tangzhong, as the directions in the recipe would not have given us all we needed to know. The rolls came out very good, definitely living up to their pillowy name. We opted to make a cream cheese frosting as opposed to the icing as we prefer a bit of tang in the topping to offset the sweetness of the roll. Read on to the Sticky Fingers: Breakfast Buns class we took on Nov 27, 2021 to get our comparison between these cinnamon buns and the other type we made in that class.
Bagels on Nov 13, 2021
We were very excited for our second class to be Bagels, as we had always wanted to make them. KC’s Bagels has always kept us supplied with amazing bagels, but there was something alluring about making our own at home. This class was 2.25 hours and cost $65.
One downside of the virtual format is that you have to supply your own ingredients. While this is not so tough for typical baked goods, bagels take many specialty ingredients that we had to order in advance in order to take the class. So, we purchased High Gluten Flour, Everything Bagel seasoning, and Non-Diastatic Malt Powder from King Arthur a few weeks ahead of class to ensure they would get to us in time. Oddly enough, the Non-Diastatic Malt Powder has a recipe for Bagels on the back of it that differed from the recipe being taught in this baking class. A search of King Arthur’s website yielded many recipes for Bagels, all which differed from both the recipe provided for the class and the one on the back of the Non-Diastatic Malt Powder. (Yes, we are looking forward to making all of them and comparing and contrasting the differences in the recipes, including King Arthur’s 2022 Recipe of the Year, the Ultimate Sandwich Bagels.) This added an extra $30 to our cost for the class (though the ingredients contained enough extra to make 1-2 more batches of bagels). We have since made these bagels again, and due to how easy they are, we will likely be making them often. The only barrier is the price of high gluten flour, so we are hoping one of the other recipes that uses bread flour will be nearly as good to help keep costs reasonable.
Biscuits & Scones on Nov 20, 2021
Admittedly, we took this class mostly for the biscuits recipe, as we had never found one that we really loved. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the scones. This class was 90 minutes and cost $45.
Normally too dry for our liking, scones are not a food we often think to make or order, but we have made these scones numerous times since because they are just so good. Not dry, flaky, and the mix-in options are endless. During the class, we made maple bacon cheddar scones by mixing in bacon bits and shredded cheddar and topping with maple sugar just before baking (which, if you have not tried maple sugar, you definitely should!). Subsequently, we’ve made the recipe with orange zest and dried cranberries mixed in, glazed with an orange glaze, and we’ve made a mini chocolate chip dried cranberry version as well. All were phenomenal.
Now back to the biscuits, which were okay. Our biscuits didn’t rise as much as we were expecting, and we were able to ask the instructor what they thought went wrong. Short of our baking powder being old (which we were pretty sure was not the culprit), they were able to offer that perhaps our kneading technique didn’t introduce the number of layers it should have. We have yet to make these again and give a better kneading technique a try, but height aside, these biscuits were pretty tasty!
Sticky Fingers: Breakfast Buns on Nov 27, 2021
Another cinnamon roll?!?! Yes. Not only does King Arthur have their Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Roll recipe, they have many other cinnamon roll recipes. So we took this class to see the difference. This class was 2.25 hours and cost $65.
Interestingly enough, while Erik and I preferred these cinnamon rolls (what King Arthur called the Ultimate Cinnamon Roll recipe, which is not listed on their website), others in our family strongly preferred the Perfectly Pillowy ones. It really comes down to what you like in a cinnamon roll. The Pillowy ones melt in your mouth and have almost no chew. The Ultimate ones are more bready and require some chewing. No judgement here, it all just comes down to personal preference.
The Sticky Buns were not at all what we were expecting. Given the two recipes (cinnamon roll and sticky bun) were being taught in the same baking class, we figured they used the same dough base, but introduced different fillings and toppings. This was not at all the case – the sticky buns had a quick bread base, which we didn’t care for. They tasted and were textured more like a biscuit with caramel and nuts on top than what we think of when we hear sticky bun, which is a yeasted dough. We would not make these again, but you can bet none of them went to waste.
The Bottom Line
In November, we spent over 8 hours baking with King Arthur’s Baking School for $240. While we had a blast doing it and learned a lot of recipes and techniques that we will take with us into future baking, it is a bit on the pricey side averaging over $30/hour to take one of these classes. It’s an excellent gift idea for beginners or more experienced bakers and is even suitable for kids (they have classes specifically designed for kids, but even the “adult” classes are well-paced and easy to understand). We have taken other online cooking and baking classes and found them to be confusing, move too quickly or too slowly, not helpful, etc. – so we were skeptical when it came to King Arthur’s.
They blew it out of the water with the knowledge of their instructors, their demeanor (not too serious, not too off-topic), their timing, and their visual aids. The classes we took were being conducted in kitchens specifically made for these virtual classes with overhead cameras and 2 instructors per class: one King Arthur instructor in Zoom chat providing written measurements and instructions and ready to answer written questions, while the other instructor on video was verbally explaining and showing the process as well as answering verbal questions. For this reason, we highly suggest their classes as you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re interested in booking a virtual class (or in-person at their Norwich, VT or Skagit Valley, WA locations), head on over to https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/baking-school/calendar?loc=1 to see their current offerings. We suggest looking a few months out, as their classes fill up pretty quickly so you’re unlikely to find an open slot in a class in the next few weeks.