With this ninth recipe in the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, we’re making what is generally a “treat” style bread, or at least it was when I was growing up. Only very, very occasionally would we be lucky enough to see a loaf of raisin bread show up in the weekly groceries.
Having now made this loaf, I can’t tell you how simple it is to make and that there’s really no reason to not treat yourself a little more regularly. All it is really is mixing the ingredients, knead, rise, shape and pop into the oven. Ridiculously simple.
I decided to make just one loaf as I wasn’t really sure if we could get through two loaves before our next challenge bread comes up (corn bread). Well, duh! Why in the world did I think that? It’s half gone already. And it’s barely a few hours old.
OK, so get the book and make this!! Impress your friends, treat your family or yourself. It’s super simple and one hella lot cheaper than buying the same thing at the store (not counting on the fact it’s just not as good as home made)!
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.
Recipe number two in theThe Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge series is “Artos: Greek Celebration Bread“. In the preamble, Peter Reinhart tells how this is a holiday and festival bread that covers 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, 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…
Since the first loaf inThe Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, blogged recently, was such a success, I decided that I’d give the recipe another go and this time keep track of the process with step-by-step pics.
It again proved to be a rather simple, straight forward loaf with little in the way of “tricky bits”. It does span several hours but as with most breads, that time is simply letting the dough rest or proof and it’s not time you need to babysit it.
So if you’re up to a play-by-play with photographic documentation, let’s get started.
The first step which I have no pics of (I’m sure you can picture it quite well in your heads) was to soak the coarse cornmeal for 12 hours. So I got my little bowl, my warm water and cornmeal and went to town. Ok, I just poured them in the bowl and covered. Not exciting. Fast forward to the next morning…
The next stage is to create the preferment, although I think technically this doesn’t qualify as it has the cornmeal in it, Regardless, I tossed the cornmeal mush into the bowl with about half the flour, instant yeast and a little more water.
The very first loaf in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, (a.k.a. BBAC) the very first loaf in the book (alphabetically) and the very first loaf out of the new oven. How’s that for a pantload of firsts?
So let’s recap what we have.
“The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge”, which you can read in more detail about in the linked post above, is basically a whole whack of people doing all the bread recipes in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice book by Peter Reinhart, all in order of appearance and on a weekly schedule (mostly). It’s more of a personal challenge, I think; there are no prizes or penalties (that I know of!) for doing every single recipe or skipping a couple but we’re all aiming to cover all 43 recipes at a pace of about one per week. So we’ll still be at this come February 2010, maybe a little later given there will likely be breaks for holiday baking and such.