Tag Archives: BBA Challenge

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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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

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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Sourdough Pumpernickel

Here we are at bread No. 34 in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Sourdough Pumpernickel. The header image is the same as the prevous entry since it features both the lighter New York Deli and the Pumpernickel breads. These are what we should be hoping to see once we’re done baking.

This was a pretty simple bread, all in all, nothing terribly tricky or fancy to do, the most unusual thing here is the use of cocoa powder to boost the dark colour of the bread. Otherwise, there’s nothing in the process we haven’t already done many times. So let’s have a go at this 10th-to-last recipe in this BBA Challenge.

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New York Deli Rye

And here we are at the first of several Sourdough Rye breads in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, bread number 31 of the BBA Challenge.

This one seems intriguing as it’s not simply a rye bread, not even a rye and caraway bread but a rye, caraway and onion bread. The pressure on this one coming out well is high as I was a little disappointd in the previous Basic Sourdough. That was a good brad but didn’t really fare well compared to the Hamelman Vermont Sourdough. So this New York Deli Rye had  to pick up the batton and go the distance. Did it? Let’s see…

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BBAC No. 30: Basic Sourdough Bread

First, an admission.

I made and photographed this bread around Dec 10th but it’s now Jan 23rd so I’ve held off posting for well over a month. Why? A few reasons: Holiday season, other breads wanting to get made, getting a wee bit “done” with the challenge, among others. But now it’s time to try and get back into the groove, especially since we’re now into the Sourdough section of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice which I was probably most excited to get to during this Challenge. So yes, this is really an “old” post that I’m simply finally getting around to writing up.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get around to the next several breads in the Sourdough section in a more timely fashion.

So let’s get this show on the road then.

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