Category Archives: Sourdough Breads

Where I show my attempts and often failures at mastering the art of sourdough. Since one learns from one’s mistakes, even the bombs are important.

Focaccia!

Welcome back, dedicated followers, first timers and anyone else who’s just stumbling on this little blog! Today’s post is going to look at my first time try at Focaccia, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge recipe, where a whole whack of people are systematically going through each recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book as a personal challenge and to try out lots of recipes they may not ever have attempted otherwise.

With summer being half over already, we’re now at recipe #13 out of 43 total. Those who are keeping track of such things may note I’ve hopped over a couple of recipes in the list, particularly the last one which was English Muffins. The only reason I skipped that one is that I had a bunch of extra starter (“excess” starter I’d actually been feeding) and I wanted to use it up. I happen to come across Mike Avery’s English Muffin Loaf recipe which uses Sourdough, so I made two loaves of that. Totally didn’t click English Muffins was one of the next Challenges. They were similar, so I’ll just assume my batch counts. You can read that officially non #BBA post here.

Anyway… enough of that, let’s look at Focaccia. This is a very simple bread, based on number of ingredients:

Focaccia1

A short list of ingredients for this one! Continue reading

English Muffin Loaf, Mike Avery style

Decided to make something today to try and use up some of the extra sourdough I have hanging around. So I hunted around and came across this recipe from Mike Avery’s SourdoughHome.com website.

We’re probably all familiar with English Muffins, whether bought from the bread shelf at the local grocery or, if you’re lucky, home made. And one of the big calling cards to an english muffin is the texture and the “nooks and crannies” you get by spitting them with a fork and toasting, then those little peaks and valleys crisp right up and manage to hold on to way more butter and/or jam.

Well, this isn’t like that.

But it’s close: instead of being individual rounds of bread cooked up on a griddle (yes, the “normal” english muffin is cooked on a stovetop, not baked) this one is formed into a loaf and baked, then sliced. Just like regular loaf bread.

We’ll discuss the taste and texture at the end. So let’s get our ingredients out and mix us up a batch.

EMB-MEP

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Cinnamon Buns… OF DEATH!! (A #BBA challenge recipe)

cinbunsdisplayThere were no objections to this latest The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge recipe.  Odd, that.

We’re now on recipe number eight, out of 43 as we work through the entire list of recipes. As already noted in a previous post, I skipped Challah and Ciabatta as I’d already made both of them before.

So here we are at the next one: Cinnamon Buns. OF DEATH!! Ok, that last bit I added myself, simply because, well, I’ll explain at the end although you may well guess before then.

As always, we’ll begin with the Mise en Place where we make certain ahead of time we have all the ingredients we’ll need measured and ready to use.

Oh, before we go on, a little clarification. One reason that’s often given to persuade people to use a scale over measuring everything in volumes (cups, teaspoons, etc.) is that if you use a good scale, it will have a “tare” function which basically just brings the scale readout back to zero. So if you started at zero, added a bowl, you’d tare back to zero then add, say, 174 grams of sugar, then you could tare again (go back to zero) and add 36 grams of water into the same bowl.

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Vermont Sourdough – Redux & Step-by-Step

Since I decided to skip the next two breads in the challenge, these being the challah (yet another egg bread and one I’ve done before)  and the Ciabatta (again, previously done) I decided it was time to get me some tasty sourdough. Since I was on my own that week (Punkin being off visiting the ‘rents for their 50th) I decided to spoil myself. I also decided I’d follow the pattern I’ve been doing for the last few weeks and do the step-by-step thing.

[easyazon-image-link asin="0471168572" alt="Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OV5EvTM6L._SL160_.jpg" align="right" width="130" height="160"]This Vermont Sourdough is now somewhat of a “classic” recipe and is from Jeffrey Hamelman’s tremendous book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. This is another book that should be “mandatory” in a bread enthusiast’s library. Aside from recipes, as with the BBA, the book is chock full of great info that teaches you more than simply “how to make this or that bread” but gives you the technical knowledge to help you learn what’s going on with your breads.

Be sure to click the image to order it from Amazon if you don’t already have a copy.

So here we go, grab a coffee or whatever and follow along.

First, the now mandatory “Mise en Place”:

vermont-mep

As you can see, the ingredients list here is pretty simple: flour, salt, water and some form of leavening, in this case, a shot of Audrey-2.

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Artos: #BBA Challenge Bread No. 2

artosdisplay

Recipe number two in the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge series is “Artos: Greek Celebration Breads“. In the preamble, Peter Reinhart tells how this is a holiday and festival bread that cover multiple variations.

The basic recipe is easily turned into “Christpsomos”, a Christmas loaf, by the simple additions of raisins, cranberries and walnuts or into “Lambropsomo”, an Easter loaf, by adding raisins, dried apricots and almond slivers a, braiding and nestling red-dyed hard boiled eggs. There are numerous local and not-so-local variations on this basic spiced bread.

I went with the christopsomos version since I did happen to have raising and cranberries, although I passed on the walnuts since we’re not big fans here.

So here we go, the step-by-step evolution of my first Artos bread…

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Updates and Sourdough Bagel Recipe tweak

I’ve made a couple of changes to the recipe for Sourdough Bagels, primarily I’ve added an ingredient list for making an even dozen as well as rephrasing a few of the comments to make some of the steps a little more clear. Hop over to the recipe here if you haven’t seen it yet.

They’re still awesome bagels. If anyone has given them a try or has questions, please don’t hesitate to comment (on that page).

Just so you know, I haven’t been ignoring the blog. I have been baking bread but because I’m really repeating a couple of the recipes I’ve found successful, I haven’t updated the blog in the last while. As well, several of the loaves I’ve made are tester recipes from Peter Reinhart’s upcoming book and of course, I can’t talk about or show pictures of them. The book is expected to come out later this year.  No, I’m not claiming special status, there are some 500 people putting the recipes through their paces to make them as clear and logical as possible, so I’m just one of VERY many. But that is one reason I have not been updating as often as I’d like.

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A Cautionary Tale

It happens. You’re going along, baking your bread and you just know something is amiss but you keep going because it’s not really feasible to halt the process when everything’s in progress, the oven’s on, the water’s boiling, the bread’s been proofing… There’s no turning back now!

So I’m sick. Not not “sick” as in twisted, sick as in coughing and moaning and dragging my feet with a cold. A cold that hit big time just when the last bagel batch was nearing the end of the process. My head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton, my throat’s itchy and/or on fire. So I’ve slugged back a swig or two of cough syrup and now I’m zoning out. Everything’s a little askew, a bit off kilter, spinning somewhat and I’m losing track of things. I should have known better but I kept going. Bad idea. Somewhat. Continue reading