Rustic Bread for MellowBakers

My third bread in the MellowBakers.com group bake, the Rustic Bread from Jeffrey Hamelman’s wonderful book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes is a pre-fermented loaf and has a combination of white bread, rye and whole wheat flours. Although it takes about 22 hours from start to finish, the time actually spent doing anything besides ‘waiting’ is really not that different from other breads.

The pre-ferment is designed to allow a portion of the dough to ferment and age, bringing out a lot of the wheat’s flavour without needing the whole batch of dough to sit about for 12-16 hours. I pretty much went from start to finish doing everything as expected, except for a little extra hand kneading after the first rough mix to add a small handful of flour as the dough was just a little too sticky.

As I noted, this bread used a pre-ferment so let’s start with a look at this step.

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Bagels (yes, again!) – a MellowBakers bread

Bagels! Yes, I’m blogging about bagels again, for the third (or is it fourth?) time.

Previously, I made and blogged bagels for the BBA Challenge from Reinhart’s book and a couple of other times based on Mike Avery’s recipes for Sourdough Bagels. While the Reinhart version was good, the Avery Sourdough were decidedly better. But now it’s time for a new contender.

Stepping up to the plate for the battle to Bagel Supremacy are the bagels from the Hamelman book Bread which just happen to also be part of the Mellow Bakers challenge for April 2010. Convenient, no?

A quick look at the recipe and, bypassing things listed as required like bagel boards, I note that the steps here are pretty much the same as the other bagel recipes. Mix the stiff dough, knead for a short while, proof, shape, proof again, boil and bake. That is the SHORT version of course, but the steps are not much different from the others. Basically this tells me I’m in familiar territory so no surprises are expected. Good. Let the fun begin!

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Hot Cross Buns! First MellowBakers bread

Well, here we go, the very first bread in the MellowBakers.com group bake!

Having run to the store the day before to pick up candied lemon peel, I was all ready today to get this bread started up. The whole recipe, which is from Jeffery Hamelman’s book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, should take about 4.5 hours or so from start to finish – or until the buns are set out to cool.

If you don’t count the big mistake I made along the way, that is. I’ll get to that as we go along.

So as always, we’ll begin with the Mis en Place which is supposed to help avoid problems.

If you’d like to make this bread too, a recipe based on the Hamelman Bread recipe has been devised and posted by Susan on the WildYeastBlog.com so hop over there and print out a copy. Hers is slightly different but you should be able to follow what I’m doing here even if you use that recipe.

For those visiting the blog for the first time, you may like to know that almost all smaller photos (except headers) usually link to a larger version. Larger photos may not; hover your mouse over each pic to see if it will lead to a larger, more detailed version.

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Black Bean Soup (or Dip!)

Here’s a recipe found on RecipeZaar.com that we make somewhat regularly (and “we” here meaning Punkin specifically, I just get to taste test and blog it). It’s spicy, zippy and bursting with yum. The nifty thing about this is that the day it’s made, we eat it as a hearty soup. That takes care of 2 of the 6 serving amount made; the remainder goes into the fridge and becomes a really great dip for tortilla chips or raw dipping veggies over the next few days… if it manages to survive that long.

This recipe uses one whole fresh jalapeño, leaving out the seeds. It’s got a nice kick but since it’s only 1/6 of one pepper per serving, it isn’t deadly hot by any means. If you do like spicy hot foods, include the seed. If the idea of spicy food scares you a little, cut back on the amount or leave it out completely, although that does skip on part of this soup/dip’s appeal. The soup will still be delicious, just a lot more tame.

This recipe can easily be switched to a vegetarian one; see Note after the ingredients.

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Banana Bread: Fast, Easy and Deeee-licious!

I like banana bread. Or banana cake. Not sure how you tell the difference. But in any case, I went looking for a new recipe (I have blogged a recipe from TheFreshLoaf previously) just to see what was out there and ran across this one from baker and author David Lebovitz that looked pretty darn good. So I gave it a go and really liked it. So I thought I’d share the process for those of you who want a quick, warm-from-the-oven treat. It’s very simple and, I need to point out, really yummy.

Banana Bread,
from David Lebovitz
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake, 12 servings

Be sure to use very ripe bananas: the skins should have black speckles on them and be soft to the touch.

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