BBA Challenge

BBA Challenge – Foccacia

After reading other BBA’ers comments on Foccacia, I knew I was in for an experience.  Nearly everyone raved about this bread.  I mean RAVED.  Couldn’t stop eating it and talking about how awesome it was.  They did not lead me astray.  This Foccacia is “OMG GOOD”.  Bri and I kept walking past the bread board and slicing another little hunk off.  The herbs, the oil… the texture!  It was such a perfect package my mouth is watering just remembering how fantastic it was.  If you are searching for the perfect foccacia recipe – look no further.  Get thee to the nearest bookstore and find yourself a copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Now.  Go.  Seriously.  Anytime you waste now is time spent without this foccacia.


BBA Challenge – English Muffins

When it comes to breakfast breads, nooks and crannies are number one on my list.  It never occurred to me to try and make them myself.  Who does that when Thomas’ already does it so well?  I approached this challenge with a whole lot of skepticism.  You “bake” these on a griddle – which baffled me.  Once I really started looking at the anatomy of a store bought English muffin it started making sense – like a light bulb came on!  OH SO THAT’S WHY THEY ARE BROWN ON THE TOP AND BOTTOM!  In the end they were the perfect little nooked and crannied muffin and I was beyond excited with the outcome.


BBA Challenge – Corn Bread

I love cornbread in just about any form.  Muffins are adorably portable, but for this recipe I went with the standard 8 x 8 cake pan so that we could snack on it with pulled pork.  Peter Reinhart’s recipe includes bacon but I opted out (FOOLISH!)  I think next time I’ll skip the corn kernels and add in the bacon.


BBA – Cinnamon Raisin Bread

To me, Cinnamon Raisin Bread requires a cinnamony-sugary swirl.  I used dark brown sugar instead of the standard granulated white sugar and it turned into this delicious filling reminiscent of a sticky bun.  Delish!


BBA Challenge – Cinnamon Buns

YUMMY!

mise en place!  Egg not pictured.  I took this waiting for husband to get home from the grocery store with eggs!

mise en place! Egg not pictured. I took this waiting for husband to get home from the grocery store with eggs!

 

butter, sugar, buttermilk powder & salt creamed together

butter, sugar, buttermilk powder & salt creamed together

 

kneading with the help of my kitchenaid mixer

kneading with the help of my kitchenaid mixer

 

ladies and gentleman - i give you the window pane!

ladies and gentleman - i give you the window pane!

 

the dough is a balmy 81 degrees

the dough is a balmy 80.4 degrees

 

sticky bun glaze - butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt & corn syrup

sticky bun glaze - butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt & corn syrup

 

glaze & toasted pecans

glaze & toasted pecans

 

cinnamon and sugar spread over the dough

cinnamon and sugar spread over the dough

all rolled up and ready to be cut into rolls

all rolled up and ready to be cut into rolls

rolls ready to be parked in the refrigerator over night

rolls ready to be parked in the refrigerator over night

my husband was kind enough to take them out at 5:20am.  At 9am they were warmed up, proofed & ready for the oven.

my husband was kind enough to take them out at 5:20am. At 9am they were warmed up, proofed & ready for the oven.

halfway through the 25 minutes in the oven

halfway through the 25 minutes in the oven

out of the oven and ready to be flipped

out of the oven and ready to be flipped

drooooooooool

drooooooooool

looks delicious at any angle

looks delicious at any angle

my masterpiece! (and my breakfast)

my masterpiece! (and my breakfast)

crumb shot!  check out that swirl.

crumb shot! check out that swirl.


BBA Challenge – Ciabatta

I have a love-hate relationship with this bread.  The first time I made it, I used Peter Reinhart’s Poolish starter.  The bread had a very tight crumb.  Good flavor but definitely bared no resemblance to ciabatta.  Refusing to accept defeat, I made the bread again, this time using the Biga starter, max hydration and the optional olive oil.  I also elected to sprinkle freshly grated asiago onto the dough during the two stretch and fold manuevers.  The dough was super sticky and nothing like any of the doughs I had worked with so far in this challenge, so I figured I must have finally gotten it right.  I was extra careful with the dough, trying as hard as I  could not to let any of the gasses escape.  I was extremely confident that this time I had it right. 

When I checked on the loaves half way through baking, they were massive!  They ballooned in the oven.   My confidence in this bread had started to wane.  The bottoms were done, but the top wasn’t nearly as browned as I would have liked – but I pulled the loaves because I hate burned bread bottoms.  After an hour on the cooking rack, I cut into the first loaf.  It wasn’t what I expected.  The crumb was too tight, but the slice was very light and had a nice flavor.  I was mad.  I started cursing the ciabatta.  I went onto twitter and complained about my failure. 

Then came dinner.  My husband and I decided to have sandwiches.  I started slicing the ciabatta and low and behold – by the second slice in I had holes!  I immediately tweeted by appologies to the ciabatta and then enjoyed a salami sandwich.  Up next is either cinnamon rolls or sticky buns.  I haven’t decided which.  Maybe I’ll split the dough in half and make both.

 


BBA Challenge – Challah

Peter Reinhart goes into detail about how to make a traditional braided challah, but much like the Artos and Casatiello formulas, it was going to make an enormous loaf.  I opted to make 2 oz rolls instead.  I think next time I would make 4 oz rolls – which would be the optimal hamburger bun or sandwich size.  The 2 oz rolls would make smaller sandwiches or decent sized dinner rolls.  If you wanted to use these for sliders, I would go 1.5 oz.  I found instructions to shaped “festive knot rolls” from The Secret of Challah.  I would definitely make this challah again.  It rose like a champ, was very easy to work with and tastes fantastic. 


BBA Challenge – Casatiello

Casatiello is an Italian cousin to Brioche.  Like a savory panetone.  Peter Reinhart even mentions that you can bake the casatiello in panetone molds.  I looked online and found that the panetone molds were kind of on the pricey side (even for me…  the girl who will buy anything baking related even if I only use it once).  So I decided to make my own.  I am a pretty big fan of origami boxes, so I adapted one to suit my needs.  I made a base out of brown shipping paper, and an insert made from parchment.  I was quite happy with the results.  I spent a solid 30 minutes telling my husband how much of a genius I am because I was able to combine my love of origami, photography and baking all into one project. 

In keeping with my trend of sharing the bread with family/friends/coworkers, I made 4 individual loaves each in its own origami panetone form.  This casatiello has sopresetta (salami), sharp provolone and aged asiago.  Husband really enjoyed the bread.  I loved the sopresetta.  Once it is lightly sauteed the flavor really comes out.  The origami really held up.  I was quite excited.


BBA Challenge – Brioche


BBA Challenge: Bagels

 

When I found out that bagels was one of the breads in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice I got excited.  Dorkishly excited.  So excited I spoke about bagels constantly for a week.  So excited I immediately went to King Arthur Flour and ordered high gluten flour and some diastatic malt powder.  And a dough whisk.  Back when I was on a quest to perfect pizza dough I aquired high gluten flour from a local pizzeria.  I was tempted to do that again, but since I needed the other items I went ahead and bought it online.  Anyone considering making bagels or pizza dough, make sure you track down some high gluten flour.  It really makes all the difference in the world.

Because I can never make anything simple, I decided to make the plain bagels and the cinnamon raisin bagels from BBA.  My absolute favorite bagel in the world is the egg bagel.  Peter Reinhart mentions egg bagels in BBA, but does not include information on what exactly to do.  I knew from speaking to bagel makers that egg bagels are a completely different animal – which is why not every bagel seller will offer egg bagels.  I decided on a whim to email Peter Reinhart and to my delight he responded within the hour and included instructions on how to prepare the egg bagel dough.  I was so excited. 

For those who are interested, here is his response on how to adjust the formula.

Hi Allyson,
   You can add eggs and reduce the water by 1.5 oz. for every egg. I’d suggest starting with three eggs and see if you like that ratio. Adjust with flour and water as needed if the dough is too stiff or too wet.
   Let me know how it goes.
   Sincerely,
   Peter
 
Peter Reinhart
http://peterreinhart.typepad.com (blog)

I loved all 3 bagels.  I would without a doubt make any one of the 3 again.  I will say that even though you can retard the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, that I prefered the over night dough for the plain and egg bagels.  The raisin bagel dough seemed to improve at the end of the 2 days, however it was still fantastic with a simple over night stay in the refrigerator.

I’ve also noticed that showing up somewhere (my in-laws, work) with bagels makes people happy.  The look on their face when you tell them that the delicious bagel they just scarfed down was hand made by you, well that’s pretty darn awesome.


BBA Challenge – Artos

Artos is a Greek Celebration bread.  It is sweet and spicy with a sticky glaze drizzled over top.  Typically it is one gigantic loaf.  Not kidding about the gigantic.  One BBAC participant claimed her loaf was so large someone confused it for a turkey.  I decided to instead make 8 rolls (the finished roll is about the size of a grapefruit).  My husband is anti-raisin, while I enjoy them – so 4 of the rolls have raisins, and 4 without.  I also opted to grind the spices myself with a coffee grinder.  The results are an extremely fragrant bread – it smelled AMAZING while it was baking.


BBA Challenge – Anadama

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge was initiated by Nicole from pinchmysalt.com.  The goal is to bake every bread from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.  I’ve always enjoyed baking and I love a good challenge, so i’m jumping into this with both feet.  Much to my husband’s chagrin, that means buying every gadget/spice/flour that is mentioned in the book and has already resulted in a multi-store quest at 11pm on a Friday night attempting to track down the exact loaf pans I needed for the first bread, Anadama.

The formula (as it is called in BBA) produces either 2 larger loaves or 3 smaller loaves.  I opted for 3 smaller loaves for easier sharing with family and friends.

 

UPDATE:  After reading about anadama I realized that I failed miserably the first time around.  While it tasted good, it just wasn’t the bread it was supposed to be – Soft, light & good for sandwiches.  So I gave it another shot, and it became all it was supposed to be.  Photos coming soon.