Lingokids: Growin’ Up - Professions & Jobs for Kids

Baker who Baked the 3-kilo Boul

December 02, 2022 Host: Emily Calandrelli. Guest: Ken Forkish. Story by Sabrina Walasek. Sound Design: Juan Delgado. Season 1 Episode 14
Lingokids: Growin’ Up - Professions & Jobs for Kids
Baker who Baked the 3-kilo Boul
Show Notes Transcript

Don't you just love the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls? We sure do! In this episode, we're rolling up our sleeves to roll out the pastry sheets. 🥐 To be a baker, you need strong arms, sharp math skills, and to be a morning person. Join us as our host Emily Calandrelli meets Ken Forkish, a master of artisanal bread and the author of the best-selling book, "Flour-Water-Salt-Yeast." Ken says it's never too late to follow your passion—he did in his 30s and became a renowned baker!
Discover fun activities and songs that will teach your child all about collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication in the Lingokids app! 💙

Speaker: Lingokids.

Speaker: When I grow up, I want to be a baker.

Speaker: What does being a baker mean to you?

Speaker: Making birthday cakes.

Speaker: Licking the batter.


Speaker: When I grow up.

Speaker: I want to be a pilot, with the uniform white. Always flying high up in the sky.

Speaker: When I grow up.

Speaker: I want to be a fire fighter, putting out flames. Or maybe a police officer keeping people safe. It's so fun to learn what you can be. Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: When I grow up.

Speaker: I want to be an artist, that paint portraits. I want to be a scientist that does experiments. Oh, so many people you will meet. Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Hi, and welcome to Growing Up, with Emily. A Lingokids podcast helping amazing kids to grow up and be even more amazing, and Emily, it's me. You know, as a kid I was always asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and I wanted to be so many things. Does that sound familiar? Then I'm glad you're listening, because you're going to find out what it takes to be anything you want. Are you ready to make baking your super power?

Speaker: Yes.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Lingokids.

Speaker: Last episode, we met a scientist, and an ornithologist, Carina Newsun. Today, we're exploring a job where you can earn dough by well, making dough. If you've dreamed of being a baker, you won't want to miss this episode. Today we're going to meet Portland, Oregon's most famous baker. His specialty is artisan bread, and pizza dough.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Mm, there's nothing quite as satisfying as a hot from the oven baked good. Today we're visiting a culinary institute, where soon to be bakers learn the science, and art of baking.

Speaker: Science?

Speaker: Sure. Chemistry happens when ingredients are mixed, sifted, whipped, kneaded, folded, chilled, or baked. Bakers even have to consider where they're making, because batter, or dough, bake differently at sea level, than on a mountain top.

Speaker: I never thought about that. Don't they have to know math too?

Speaker: Yes. Everything has to be carefully measured, or weighed.

Speaker: How long does it take to learn all of that?

Speaker: Culinary school is one to two years, and then it's lots of practice, practice, practice. Let's see some learning in action. Our first kitchen visit covers one of the world's oldest culinary crafts, baking bread. Here's a fun fact, in medieval times, bread was used as a plate, it was called the trencher. People ate the food, and the bread that it sat on. Does this sound like anything we eat?

Speaker: Bread, that's like a plate, with food piled on top. Pizza.

Speaker: Yes. In some countries in East Africa, like Ethiopia, Eritrea, and some parts of Somalia, people eat something similar to a trencher. Their bread is called, injera. It's a spongy flat bread. They pile all of their other food on top, and use extra pieces of injera to scoop up the meal. No utensils or plates needed.

Speaker: Do most countries have some type of bread?

Speaker: Bread exists in every culture. Injera, chabata, rotti, hala, tortillas, naan, pitta, steamed buns, biscuits, and baguettes, everybody loves bread.

Speaker: I like baguettes. They're long, thin loaves from France.

Speaker: It's common for French people to buy fresh bread every morning. There are even laws about French bread. It can only contain four ingredients, wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water. A baguette must be 55 to 65 centimeters long. That's about 21 to 25 inches. Our next visit is the pastry kitchen. What's your favorite pastry?

Speaker: Donuts.

Speaker: Actually, a donut is not a pastry. Donuts are fried, pastries are baked.

Speaker: Oh. How about chocolate chip cookies?

Speaker: Cookies are a rolled dough that is baked, so they're technically a pastry. Let's go see what's cooking, or rather, baking.

Speaker: Wow. Everything is super-sized in this kitchen.

Speaker: Professional bakers make big batches at a time, so they use big ovens, big bowls, and big utensils. They're rolling out big, flat rectangles of dough, and cutting them into strips. They're making cinnamon rolls. We'll come back to taste them once they're out of the oven, and cooled off. Our final stop is, let's just say, the icing on the cake.

Speaker: Cake.

Speaker: My favorite part is cake decorating.

Speaker: Mine too. The students use piping bags filled with pink icing. The end has a special metal tip, so that when they squeeze, icing comes out in fancy forms. Want to give it a try? Here's a piping bag for each of you, try decorating this cupcake.

Speaker: I squeezed too hard.

Speaker: Mine came out all wobbly. This is harder than it looks.

Speaker: Guess you'll have to eat your mistakes. It's time to meet your guest baker. He's known for his award winning baking businesses, Ken's Artisan Bakery, and Ken's Pizza. Our baker is a master of pizza dough, and he also has a best selling book. Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. His name is Ken Forkish. Are you ready to meet a real baker?

Speaker: Sure.

Speaker: Can't wait.


Speaker: Hi there, Ken. I'm with Lingokids, and we want to find out what it takes to be a baker. Do you have a couple of minutes to talk with us?

Speaker: Of course, I do.

Speaker: Great. I know you've recently retired, but have you always been a baker?

Speaker: No. The first half of my career, I had an office job, so I went to work, I carried a briefcase, sometimes I'd get on an airplane, and fly to visit customers. I did that for 19 years.

Speaker: 19 years? That's older than the two of us together.

Speaker: True. How long have you been baking?

Speaker: I worked as a baker for 20 years, it felt like more than that. [laughs]

Speaker: Wow. Then you would definitely know, what three skills do all bakers need?

Speaker: The first skill you need is the ability to get up in the middle of the night. [laughs] While you are sleeping everyday, there's bakers at work, and they're making bread, and they're making pastry, and they're making cookies, brownies, cakes.

Speaker: This already sounds hard. What's the second skill?

Speaker: I think the second skill is knowing how to pay attention, and focus, and do things the right way every single day, and that means measuring all your ingredients accurately.

Speaker: That's what Emily was telling us before, math and weighing things, but what is the third skill?

Speaker: The third skill is, be nice to the other people that are working next to you.

Speaker: That makes a lot of sense.

Speaker: Those are great skills to have. Ken, we are only getting started with our questions. Can we ask you some more?

Speaker: Please.


Speaker: Ken, how did you learn to bake?

Speaker: I went to baking school. Actually, I went to five baking schools. I met lots of bakers, I visited lots of bakeries, and then at home, I baked bread like everyday, until I built my bakery, and then I started baking at work.

Speaker: Did you just wake up one day, and decide to go to the baking school?

Speaker: I wanted to use my hands to make things that were good, and make things that give people enjoyment, pleasure, smiles, and that was really the beginning, is I wanted to be a maker.

Speaker: Wow, it must be mind blowing that one day you're in an office, and the next day, you are back to school, studying a completely new trade.

Speaker: [laughs] Yes. It was mind-blowing for my family too. They weren't sure that it was a good idea, but I believed in myself.

Speaker: Ken, what do you like best about being a baker?

Speaker: Everything. Maybe it's that when my bakery is full of people, moms, and dads, and children, and old people. We serve from little kids to old people everyday, and my favorite this was seeing them eat my food, and smiling, and being happy.

Speaker: Were you baking every day?

Speaker: Even when I wasn't baking every day, I would still go into the bakery, and I would find somebody who was making croissants, and I would start making croissants with them, or someone who was shaping baguettes, rolling each one out into a long tube, and I would jump in and I would help them. I love to shape the bread. I love to touch the dough with my hands.

Speaker: Ken, how old were you when you decided you wanted to be a baker?

Speaker: I think I was 35 years old. There was a magazine from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, and it had a feature article about this famous French baker. His name was Poilane. The bread from Poilane's Boulangerie in Paris was made the way it had been made for hundreds of years. It was beautiful. It was delicious. When I looked at those loaves, and his wood-fired oven, it was everything I wanted to do. I just knew-- In that moment I knew that that's what I wanted to do.

Speaker: Look, this is a picture of you Ken, with a gigantic of bread. What is this?

Speaker: Yes. That, it's called it the 3-- It was 3 kilos of dough to make those loaves. I call it the 3 kilo bull. It was my signature loaf. I still love those. At my bakery, at Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland. I was very famous for that loaf.

Speaker: Why did you make it?

Speaker: It was looking through photographs of old bakeries in France in the countryside where people were holding up gigantic loaves of bread. I'm like, "Man, that is cool. I want to do that." That's how it started.

Speaker: What is the craziest thing that you've ever made?

Speaker: I don't know the answer. It's a funny question. Maybe the craziest thing I ever baked was this giant loaf of bread I made. We don't really think about crazy. We think about what can I make that people want, that we usually don't think about what's crazy that I can make. That's-- [laughs]

Speaker: Ken. Don't you get bored of making the same pastries and loaves every day?

Speaker: You know what's special kids, about being a baker, is you make the same thing every day. Every day. Then you start to think every day. Hopefully, you think, "How can I make this a little bit better?" Then the next day you still think, "How can I make this a little bit better?" That never-- It should never stop. You should always ask yourself that question, "How can I do this just a little bit better?"

Speaker: It sounds like really hard work.

Speaker: It is very physical. Being a baker, you're on your feet all day long. There's never a time to sit down, except maybe at lunch, you take a short break, and you're lifting things. The bags of flour are heavy, the tubs of dough are heavy. You're working, you're baking, you're rolling out, and by the time it's over, you're pretty tired.

Speaker: Wow, Ken, there is so much dedication and passion in your story. Thanks so much for sharing with us. [music]

Speaker: Ken, this is this one of my favorite parts of the podcast. When you can give some tips to our listeners. What can kids do now while they're still growing up to become a baker?

Speaker: Bake at Home. Use my books. You can make pizza, you can make bread, but when you bake at home, do it with your mom. Do it with your dad, your brother, your sister. Measure everything exactly. It's not hard. That makes it more fun, because when you measure things right, then it's going to work.

Speaker: Make sure there's an adult helping, ovens and baking pans can get really hot.

Speaker: I can smell our cinnamon rolls. Emily, can you help with getting the hot tray out?

Speaker: There you go.

Speaker: Mm, these are amazing.

Speaker: Well, we've learned a lot today. It has been a sweet treat.


Speaker: We hope you've enjoyed this episode of The Growing Up Podcast. Even if you never plan to be a baker, it's fun to make a loaf of bread, or a pastry for a special occasion. Is there one you'd like to learn how to make? Tune in next time when we meet a real chef.

Speaker: To live a full interactive learning adventure. Check out our Lingokids app with tons of games and activities for endless fun.

Speaker: It's so fun to learn what you can be.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: So come join us, come everyone, so we can learn while having lots of fun, because it's so fun to learn what you can be. Yes, it's so fun to learn what you can be.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Growing up.

Speaker: Lingo kids.