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First Selectman Hosts Sourdough Baking Class With Friend, ‘Newtown Bee’ Copy Editor



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Over 70 people attended First Selectman Jeff Capeci and Newtown Bee Copy Editor Kathy Ronan’s Sourdough 101 class on Saturday, May 4.

Held at Newtown Community Center, Capeci and Ronan gave a quick introduction of what sourdough is before diving into the process of making it themselves. They explained the art and science of sourdough as they moved from one stage into the next, throwing in anecdotes about baking along the way. All proceeds from the event went to FAITH Food Pantry.

Capeci and Ronan sported matching pink and blue aprons that said “Bakers Gonna Bake” and featured various baking iconography such as eggs, sugar, and cupcakes.

Each table was set with pre-made sourdough bread along with salted butter and oil for attendees to eat during the presentation. After class, everyone could take home a container of starter, and those who provided an email were sent the sourdough recipe and the event’s PowerPoint demonstration.

Preparing for everything was no easy feat for Capeci and Ronan. Leading up to the class, they prepared sourdough in various stages of completion to demonstrate during the two-hour class period the entire baking process, which would normally take place over two to three days.

They also had help from people who provided much of the bread needed on the tables for participants to eat. They baked the bread on Friday to ensure the bread was as fresh as possible.

Capeci and Ronan hoped attendees could learn how to make sourdough by watching them make it themselves.

“We both thought this would be fun to try for a larger audience,” Capeci said.

The friends made a point to interact with their guests and for everyone to have fun as they learned.

Participants were encouraged to raise their hand at any time to ask a question and have it quickly answered. Capeci and Ronan also occasionally walked around the room, table by table, showing what their dough looked like at that certain point of the baking process. They even called on some attendees to help mix, salt, and stretch the dough in front of everyone, offering a hands-on experience for those who wanted to give it a try.

Capeci and Ronan also made a point to use different pieces of equipment than each other during the presentation, which was partially inspired by Ronan’s own experience of learning how to bake sourdough.

When Capeci first encouraged Ronan to try baking sourdough, she told The Newtown Bee earlier this year, she was hesitant due to her unsuccessful experiences working with yeast bread in the past. Capeci assured her that sourdough was easy to work with, so she agreed to give it a try.

Ronan did not want to invest in some of the special tools used to make sourdough in case it was not a success, so she decided to use whatever equipment she already had in her kitchen.

The same was true for the Sourdough 101 class demonstration, when Ronan used tools people already have in their kitchen, while Capeci used more specialized baking equipment. By using different tools, they said, they hoped everyone would see that they could make their own bread however they wanted.

“You can do it with everything that you have in a regularly equipped kitchen,” Capeci said.

As for the rest of her sourdough baking journey, Ronan accepted Capeci’s guidance and said she was overjoyed to have successfully made sourdough bread after her past failures with yeast bread. While she was learning how to bake sourdough from Capeci, Ronan thought it would make an interesting story for the newspaper.

She went on to write an article about Capeci’s sourdough making hobby, titled “In the Kitchen with Jeff Capeci,” which ran in the March 1, 2024 issue of The Newtown Bee and was published at newtownbee.com on March 7. After the article came out, the two started getting requests from many people in the community to teach a sourdough class in the community center.

Capeci and Ronan were excited to share their passion of making sourdough bread after all the encouragement from the community. They were also more than happy with the turnout, they said, and could potentially do another class in the future.

Reporter Jenna Visca can be reached at jenna@thebee.com.

First Selectman Jeff Capeci (left) and Newtown Bee Copy Editor Kathy Ronan co-hosted Sourdough 101 at Newtown Community Center on May 4. Attendees learned how to make sourdough by watching the two friends make it themselves. —Bee Photo, Glass
Capeci (left) speaks with one of the students while another takes a close look at a jar of sourdough starter, the magic that makes the bread rise. Attendees were offered containers of starter at the end of class to make their own bread at home. —Bee Photo, Glass
Around 70 people attended the sourdough class, with everyone watching and laughing along with Capeci and Ronan as they led their lesson. —Bee Photo, Glass
First Selectman Jeff Capeci (third from left) and Newtown Bee Copy Editor Kathy Ronan (third from right) presented FAITH Food Pantry a check of $700 on May 14. The donation represented a participation fee for Sourdough 101, a class Capeci and Ronan co-led earlier this month at Newtown Community Center. Joining the friends for the handoff of funds were, from left, Newtown Community Center Director Matt Ariniello, and FAITH Food Pantry volunteers Jane Stadler, Sue Shpunt, and Andy Engels. —Bee Photo, Visca
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