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Sept. 5-6: Bread conference tailored to home bakers

By Cathy McKenzie, WSU Mount Vernon

bread-80COUPEVILLE, Wash. – A whole grains conference for home bakers in September already is more than half filled – and in a community concerned about gluten in the diet, said organizer Tim Lawrence.

“Whole Grains for the Home Baker: Principles and Practices” will be Sept. 5-6 at Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship, 180 Parker Road, Coupeville.

Preregistration is required and costs $150, which includes meals and a sampling of locally grown and produced foods. Find more information and a link to registration and a schedule at

Lawrence, Washington State University Island County Extension director, got the idea for the home bakers conference after attending Kneading Conference West sessions geared toward professionals.

“First, I never realized there were so many bread nerds in the world,” he said.

“Second, several of the talks were well above my head. And third, I noticed that there were several others with a glazed look who identified themselves as home bakers.

“Bingo!  What if I offered a bread conference specific for the home baker?” he said.

The conference will feature speakers and demonstrations focused on the unique flavors and baking properties of wheat and other grains, including those grown and milled in this region of the United States. Some of the speakers and topics will be:

* Wendy Scherer, head baker for Tom Douglas Restaurants, demonstrating pastries made from freshly milled whole-wheat kernel;
* Whidbey Island’s Hot Rock Pizza co-owner Reid Schwartz, with pizza made from all local ingredients;
* WSU Mount Vernon’s Steve Lyon, leading a walk through a wheat test field;
* and WSU Mount Vernon graduate students Louisa Winkler and Bethany Econopouly, talking about the relevance of plant breeding to home baking.

The keynote presentation will be by Steve Jones, WSU Mount Vernon research center wheat breeder and director. The center’s bread lab has gained international attention for its ongoing study of the diversity of grains grown in surrounding fields and provided by millers and bakers to determine which are most suitable for craft baking.

“I like Steve’s idea of focusing on food rather than specific agriculture production,” said Lawrence.

“Through this conference, we are hoping to provide Island County home bakers with a better understanding of bread baking with nutritional ingredients and bring some balance to the anti-gluten sentiment,” he said. “We want to bring people to the island for an educational event and create a greater focus on food.”

The conference is sponsored by the WSU Mount Vernon Bread Lab, WSU Island County Extension, King Arthur Flour, Tree-Top Baking and The Bread Bakers Guild of America.


Tim Lawrence, WSU Island County Extension, 360-240-5558,

Steve Jones, WSU Mount Vernon, 360-416-5210,

Wendy Hebb, The Grain Gathering Program, 360-707-1914,

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