Mellow Bakers: group baking at an easy pace

I had mentioned in the last post of the the BBA Challenge, that I wanted to perhaps continue doing a bake-along with others, although not something as “big” again as the entire set of recipes in one book.

So far, a few of the BBA members have said that they might be interested in a similar venture. So I’ve spent the last couple of days working up a bit of space on this site to work as “home base’ for such a group.

I’ve arbitrarily called it Mellow Bakers as this describes a somewhat more relaxed goal for the group.

So what’s the deal?

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Roasted Onion & Asiago Cheese Miche

Here it is, the final bread in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and also the last bread in the BBA Challenge which began back in May of 2009. Is it really almost a year ago? Wow. Well, about 43 weeks in all since the idea was to make one bread every week and this is bread #43. Granted, I did NOT make every single recipe, a few were for certain not going to be enjoyed in our household and it was better to skip than to throw away a partially eaten loaf. Still, the bulk of them were done and we’ve found some nice breads as well as a couple of duds we’ll not be getting back to.

None the less, we’re now looking at making another cheesy bread, this time a three day extravaganza, according to the book. Day one: mix the sourdough sponge and allow to proof for 8 hours. The mixing part took about 4 minutes so this isn’t exactly a difficult or time consuming step. The sponge is basically just sourdough starter, water and flour. I made this up very early in the morning and had it proofed 8 hours later that day. Here the recipe says to chill it until tomorrow, then let it sit an hour to warm back up. I decided to skip that chilling part since the dough was going to again chill overnight in the final proof stage so flavour development would still occur while I shaved a day off the full run. Since this is a heavily cheesed and onioned loaf, I don’t think the dough flavour will suffer.

So later that same day, I’ve got my ingredients ready and I’m heading into step two, mixing the dough and bulk proofing.

Day two is supposed to be preparing the roasted onions then mixing the dough and refrigerating overnight. Day three  is finishing the loaf’s toppings, final proofing and baking in the hearth oven.

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Potato, Cheddar & Chives Bread

Here we are at the 42nd recipe in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice with only one more to go in the BBA Challenge. This is, I’m hoping, a good counterbalance to the previous White Bread that was a bit lackluster and will help to close up the Challenge with a bit of a bang.

This recipe, as well as the next and final one, is a cheese laden bread and looks to have definite character. This is not bread for peanut butter and jam sandwiches – well, maybe it is – but will decidedly want to be paired with more robust spreads and topping such as deli meats or served with a stew.

This is an enriched bread and takes only one day to make, as long as you’ve got your sourdough starter ready. I fed my starter early in the morning and, using the excess, built up the required 300g in one go; it was ready to go in just a couple of hours.

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BBA White Bread

White bread. “Bailed fog”. Home version of Wonder Bread. Basically, the antithesis of flavourful, textured and nuanced artisanal breads. Enriched soft bread, thin of crust, fluffy and unexceptional of crumb. Had to get to this at some point, right?

OK, so sliced white bread is not entirely “evil” after all, it’s the standard backdrop for grilled cheese sammidges, open faced hot turkey sandwich and the like. To be honest, I don’t “hate” white sliced bread, I simply don’t find it very interesting, it’s mostly flavourless unless it gets toasted, it’s basically just an uninteresting thing to put other things onto. It’s got little character save for it having “no character” and really doesn’t bring anyhing particularly notable to the table. It’s only filler or background, to put it simply, it doesn’t step anywhere near the front of the stage.

This home made version, on the other hand, is going to have less unpronounceable words than the bagged variety (sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate or calcium propionate, anyone?). And it’s as close to Punkin’s favoured sliced bread as we will get… we hope. Continue reading “BBA White Bread”

Vienna Bread with Dutch Crunch Topping

Merrily skipping over a couple more breads that I seriously doubt would get eaten in our house, we now land on The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge bread #39 (of 43): Vienna Bread with an option to add Dutch Crunch. Since I recall getting the occasional Dutch Crunch covered bread at some point in my childhood, possibly just as a very occasional lark, I decided to give that a try here.

What is Dutch Crunch?

It’s a sort of slightly sweet topping that’s spread on top of a bread dough, which then bakes up a little crunchy and crispy and can give the loaf a nifty visual effect, as seen at left here. In this case it’s basically rice flour, a bit of bread flour, a little yeast, salt, sugar, veg oil and water. Simple really. And this is just one variation, there are many.

This is a two day bread, the first day being taken up mixing a Pâte Fermentée which we’ve done a few times already so I won’t repeat the process now. This pre-ferment is pretty much like a normal yeast dough except it’s made in advance and allowed to “age” overnight in the refrigerator in order to slow the yeast and allow the wheat flavours to develop as the yeast ferments the dough.

I made this first thing in the morning and since it’s supposed to refrigerate overnight, I let it sit in the fridge for 8 hours and pulled it out in the early evening. Presto, the 2 day bread is now a 1 day bread… if you’re OK with baking right up to midnight. Which I am.

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