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Bread baking school opens in Mihama

Date Posted: 2011-04-21

Virtually everyone loves eating bread, yet few people know only to buy it in a store; the art of baking bread has taken on an almost mystical aura.

Kei Stone has changed that, opening a new bread baking school, the Mihama Pan, and is putting her students through a comprehensive series of lessons that range from mixing and kneading the dough to the secrets of having the right oven temperature. It’s not a stuffy classroom school, says Stone, sharing her motto “Bake bread, have fun!”

Students at Mihama Pan don’t miss a trick, with Stone able to provide very personal attention to each, as she limits class size to a maximum of four people. Classes are divided into levels based upon the complexity of the tasks, making it easy for beginners to not be intimidated, and for more advanced students not to be bored. The best news of all is that Mihama Pan offers classes in English, as well as Japanese.

Stone turned her hobby—she loved making sweets starting as a youngster—into an avocation, starting her first bread baking school when she lived in Iwakuni. That really got her hooked, motivating her to take baking seriously and to earn her license to teach what she’s learned. Taking everything a step further, Stone earned a specialty in Japanese education, obtained a degree, and then worked in North and South America, and Europe, as a Japanese teacher. Recipes used in the Mihama Pan practical kitchen classroom are edited by Stone, but she says “you can bake bread at home because you take the recipes home after the lessons.

Discovering how many varieties of Japanese breads exist motivated her, and that set her to wanting to make some. Having lived abroad, she says there’s a lot of good-tasting bread in foreign countries, but she felt nostalgic for Japanese bread. The feelings were so strong, Stone says she considered returning to Japan just to enjoy the breads. With Mihama Pan, she feels she has the best of all worlds.

Wednesdays are Mama-san days at Mihama Pan, where children can accompany parents to the lessons and share the enjoyment of baking bread. Stone calls making bread a “family activity, because even children can safely become involved.” She encourages parents to get their kids involved. And while the labor of is baking in the oven, she shares tea time together with students. Students have a say in what breads they’d like to learn to bake, and can even come up with original recipes.

There’s no time like the present to get started, Stone says, and is offering a special half-price campaign for students signing up now. She emphasizes the classes are practical, hands-on periods, and not dry book learning. “I make the best use of my experience,” she says, “and I hope I can give the time and place for a bread-baking experience not impeded by relationships, citizenship or age. It’s time to have a good time.”

Mihama Pan operates strictly on a reservation system, easily accomplished by calling 080-2723-5964. Weekday morning classes run 9:30 a.m. ~ noon, and afternoon classes 1 ~ 3:30 p.m. There are also afternoon classes on Saturdays. Mihama Pan is located at 206-7 Mihama, Chatan (across Camp Lester), on the third floor of the AU building. An English page is available at the website, http://www.mihamapan.com .


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