Tag Archives: bread bakers apprentice

Pain a l’Ancienne or Giant Grissini?

67-PainAncIntroThis one was not so good. So I won’t spend a lot of time on the details.  Suffice it to say there were enough problems with the finished product and the process that it’s not a type of bread I’d be open to revisiting any tine soon.

So, as always, a quick look at the mis en place…

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Le Pain Français du #BBA

FrenchBBA-SneakPicBonjour et salut à tous! La recette d’aujourd’hui est un pain français du livre «The Bread Baker’s Apprentice» par le boulanger célèbre, Monsieur Peter Reinhart.

And that’s all the French I’ll force you to suffer through for now. So yes, today is French Bread day in the BBA Challenge and dare I say, “it’s about time!”. Not because the other breads so far have been bad but because I’ve rather been looking forward to this one for a while.

Although my extended stay in Paris was a couple decades back, one of the very best things (although there were many) was being able to get up in the morning, go around the corner this way or down the street a bit that way, and hit a bakery to pick up a still warm fresh baguette, perhaps some almond croissants, then head back to the apartment and consume it with some strawberry jam and crème fraîche (yum!! Rather like Devonshire cream) along with a hot cup of coffee while looking out onto the bustle of Boulevard de Rochechouart.

This experience is simply not doable back here in North America as there aren’t bakeries in almost any neigbourhood and even when there happens to be one, it’s simply not a habit here to get bread for the meal and expect to go out again next time for the next loaf, warm off the shelf. No, we may pick up a loaf at the local grocery store that we don’t expect to get into for hours if not days, the quality simply isn’t the same in these factory-produced breads.

So getting to this particular loaf is giving me hope of getting a little bit of that ‘plaisir’ back, and maybe reliving a little bit of that Paris experience. You can probably tell I haven’t made this yet (I write the blog up halfway while waiting for things to proof or bake) so I don’t know how it will turn out.

Let’s get going and see, non?

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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

Corn Bread: Breakfast in a slice.

CBFancyShotCorn Bread: Breakfast in a slice.

This is recipe #10 (1/4 of the way there! [almost]) in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.

By now we know the drill: look up the recipe, translate the ounce weights to grams for better accuracy and get all our ingredients set up for the Mis en Place. So let’s get this show going.

Wait!! Before we get going, there’s the overnight soak we need to attend to. So our coarse (palenta style) cornmeal gets a bath of buttermilk and left on the counter until next day. Straight forward to not need photos, right? Good, cause I didn’t get any.

So one full sleep later…

The ubiquitous Mis en Place. Althought there are  a fair number of ingredients here, the process is really simple.

cbMEP

WAIT!! Hold on, we’re already ahead of ourselves. A step we did before getting all the ingredients ready and measured was to cook up our bacon, about 15-20 at 375ºF on a parchment covered baking sheet. Book says use two, but there was plenty of spare space on one sheet. I even used 10 ounces of bacon to not leave one lonely slice in the package (and get in deep doodoo for it too)

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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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Casatiello Bread for #BBA Challenge

Nearly didn't make it into the bread

Nearly didn't make it into the bread

I went out and bought the “special” ingredients needed for this Casatiello, an Italian “cousin” of the eggy French brioche and the fifth recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. The 200 gram of Calabrese salami and the 250 gram chunk of Provolone cheese cost $12. Yipes, I thought, this had better be damn good bread.

Just as a test I had a few crackers with the cheese and salami, you know, just to make sure this was a good combo. Good thing we only had a couple crackers left or there would have been nothing remaining of the salami and cheese for the bread. Also gave a test cracker to my other half. Turns out spicy deli meats are not a favourite at all; now I know the salami’s all mine. Muahahaha! And so is the bread. OK, I cut the recipe in half then: one loaf should be plenty for lil ol’ me. Darn, now I’ll have all this spare salami and cheese. What ever shall I do?

I immediately put “Crackers” on the shopping list.

OK, let’s get this show on the road and see what we  end up with since we know the “featured ingredients” are awesome. Continue reading

Brioche: a quasi-fail (#bba)

Sometimes you think you’re doing the right thing but it turns out you’re not.

This was one of those times.

Although, in reality, it’s a small problem and nothing that can’t be resolved by EATING THE EVIDENCE. Still, it would have been nice to get it a little closer to “right”. Woe is me. Let me tell you what happened…

I decided to give bread #4 in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge a go yesterday and of course (since you already know what the post title is) it was Brioche. There are three variations of it to choose from and I went with Rich Man’s version. This one  has a whole whopping pound of butter in it, vs the Middle Class and Poor Man’s versions with a half and a quarter pound of butter, respectively.

So let’s follow along the process.

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As you can see, the ingredient list isn’t exactly strange. Except that we’re not using just a little bit of that butter, we’re using the WHOLE thing. The recipe indicates that, in baker’s percentage, this loaf is 87.7% butter in the end. In case you’re thinking that means it’s 3% other things, allow me to explain in a little more detail.

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