Archive for the ‘BBA Bread’ Category

BBA #18 Light Wheat Bread

I originally made this bread about a year ago but didn’t get pictures taken of the process, so a few weeks ago I made it again. I mixed bread flour, whole wheat flour, honey, salt, powdered milk, instant yeast, shortening and water. This created a standard dough that was pretty straight forward in processing.

I should have rolled the dough a little tighter before placing it in the pan because you can see that I had a little separation of layers happening in the baked loaf. Overall, this bread was a little ‘meh’ for me. It tasted a little like sawdust. I’m not sure if I should have used butter over the shortening, or maybe a little extra salt, but this bread as I made it was not really that great (a rare thing indeed).

The next bread up is the marbled rye which creates a beautiful loaf.


BBA #17 Loved the Lavash Crackers

The next formula in Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice is Lavash Crackers starting on page 178. I originally made these crackers last in the Fall of 2009, but with all the hub-bub of buying a house and moving, I didn’t get any pictures taken. They were really tasty and quick to make in an evening. They disappeared almost immediately at work the next morning.

The best tip from my fellow BBA bakers was to split the dough in half and work with each half at a time. This allowed me to roll the dough  very thin, which results in a crisper cracker. If you leave the dough thicker, you will bake something closer to pita bread – which is not necessarily a bad thing!

Cheese, sea salt and black pepper lavash

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BBA #15 Italian Bread

Italian Bread was the last bread that I made in my old kitchen before we moved into the new house. The pictures were taken on my cell phone camera so I apologize for the funniness. I don’t bother with step by step photos, but they were very similar to the French Bread just a few posts earlier.

I was most impressed by the oven spring I got on these loaves, they almost tripled in size!

This bread was really nice. It had a very soft interior with a thin crispy thin crust and the recipe made two really nice sized loaves.

That crumb was light as a pillow -I would love to make this one again! Grrrr, I hate the blurry pictures.

I was so eager to post those Kaiser roll pics that I forgot that this Italian bread went first – so they are a little out of order.

Next up – for real: Lavash crackers. Those will also be a redo – since they didn’t get photos the first time around. I’m thinking savory and sweet this time!

BBA #16 Kaiser Rolls Repeated

Kaiser Rolls are the next recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice and I loved them so much the first time I made them, that I decided that for the sake of the blog, I should remake them and get some pictures posted. That and the fact that Andrew and I wanted to test out his new Christmas present (a fancy schmancy BBQ grill) and we needed some buns for those burgers. This dovetailed nicely with updating this-here blog, so the Kaiser Rolls were born again!

A few days before burger night, I started a double batch of pate fermente and stuck it in the fridge. I used part (16 oz) for the French Bread and (7 oz) for these rolls. I still had 20 ounces left over!!! so I stuck it in the refrigerator to freeze until I need it for another recipe. I’m convinced that it would just keep growing until a giant blob of dough took over my fridge entirely. What a clean up job that would be – no thank you- but I digress…..  

Above you will find the ingredients for this recipe: unbleached bread flour, pate fermente, egg (slightly beaten), vegetable oil, water, salt, poppy seeds (decoration), sesame seeds (decoration) yeast and diastatic malt powder. Actually as you can see in the top photos – mine is NON-diastatic malt powder, but it seems to have worked out fine. By using what I had on hand instead of buying regular diastatic malt powder I think the rolls didn’t “brown” as nicely as they would have and didn’t have a “shine” that the right powder could give, but I’ve made my peace with that.

I added everything to my mixing bowl and with the bread hook in place, I started it on speed 2 to mix the ingredients together.

Once the dough was ready, about 12 minutes, I covered the bowl with plastic and let it rise for about 2 hours.

After 2 hours had elapsed, the dough had doubled and I started dividing the it  into about equal sized pieces. This turned out to be about 4.25 oz each.

I formed each piece into a boule and let them rest (covered) for about 10 minutes. This allows the dough to rest before I start shaping them into a “traditional” Kaiser roll shape. I say “traditional” but I’m not sure how close my final shape ended up being traditional, but, eh, moving on!

To shape I started by rolling each ball into about an 8 inch long rope. Next I tied a loose knot in the rope and tucked on end down the hole and stuck one end up through the hole. I pretty much had one shot at getting it right since the dough stuck to itself once tied and you pretty much ended up with a mottled ball of dough in the end. Which explains what happened with the lower right-hand side roll – there were problems….

Once shaped, I recovered the rolls and let them rise for about 45 minutes. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees while I waited for the dough to double.

Just a tip: make sure you know which side of the plastic you wrote your rising time info – sharpie marker does in fact come off on to your dough if it touches it.  Oopsies!

Once doubled, I used a spray bottle and coated the top of the rolls with a fine mist of water. I applied poppy seeds to two, sesame seeds to two and left the last two plain.

I slid the rolls onto the baking stone and let them bake for about 10 minutes. I carefully rotated the rolls in the oven and left them for about 8 more minutes with the temp turned down to 400 degrees. They were starting to smell pretty good at that point so I tested them with my probe thermometer and they registered 200 degrees – done!

After cooling for about 25 minutes, I slice a few open and slathered the inside with peppercorn ranch dressing, added my perfectly grilled gorgonzola basil burger and topped that off with a little lettuce. It was burger heaven on a home-made bun!

Kaiser rolls are done – so that means Lavash crackers are up next!

BBA #14 Fresh French Bread


Alright, so onwards to the next bread in the Bread Baker’s Aprentice Challenge! This is another bread that I initally baked back in August, but with all the chaos of moving, pictures of the process were just scraped in favor of actually baking the bread. This is probably not a bad thing since I remember that my baguettes were mis-shaped and pretty homely little things. I think I also over-baked the baguettes since they were quite dry inside. I wasn’t to thrilled so I didn’t figure too much was lost. Fast forward now 4 months and I decided for the sake of the blog to re-make these and not only see if I could get my photos, but also improve on my first lack-luster effort. So let’s get started.

French bread calls for the simplest of ingredients: equal amounts of unbleached bread flour and all purpose bread flour, 16 ounces of pate fermete which I made and refrigerated the day before, salt, yeast and water.

I combined all the ingredients in the mixer with the bread hook attachment and let it knead everything together. I had to add about an additional tablespoon of water to get all the flour to incorporate. After about 10 minutes I had a nice smooth ball of dough, it was a little sticky to the touch but I’ve learned that its not a problem.

I sprayed the bowl of the mixer with olive oil and let it rise for about 2 hours. I removed the dough and divided it into two pieces to make batards this time instead of the thin baguettes.

Trying my best to follow the pictorial tutor in the book, I took the first piece of dough and shaped it into a rough rectangle, then I took the bottom third of dough and folded it over to the middle of the rectangle. I tried to press down and make a tight seam and to create some surface tension on the roll. Next I brought the top of the dough to the bottom of the roll and pinched the seams together until the surface was taunt but not in danger of ripping in the next rise. I set this roll -seam side down – onto my floured couche.  I repeated all this for the second piece of dough.

I covered the batards with oiled plastic and let them rise for about 60 minutes until they had almost doubled in size. Mid way through this rise I preheated the oven with my baking stone to 500 degrees.

Next comes the slashing.

Typically loaves are slashed for a couple reasons, one is to give the bread a place to expand in the oven (called oven spring) without tearing open the loaves and two, is decorative. Now I know, what your thinking. I have number one down, but number two needs some work. Clearly pretty, Martha worthy slashes still elude me, but I’m working on it! The bread tore instead of cut, so some of those cuts are might ugly, the good news is that they don’t affect the taste =)

I transferred the doubled, slashed loaves on to a parchment covered baking sheet and then slid them onto the baking stone. I poured a cup of boiling water into a cast iron pan in the oven to create steam and then for the first few minutes sprayed the interior walls of the oven with a spray bottle. The loaves had good oven spring and after only a few minutes I had to turn the oven down to 375 to keep them from over browning on the bottom. After about 25 minutes total I tested the loaves and they registered 205 degrees. I whisked them out of the oven and onto a cooling rack for an hour or so cool down.

The interior was nice and soft – not too dry, and was filled with plenty of medium-sized holes. The crust was crunchy out of the oven but softened during cool down.

This bread turned out really good and I’m so glad that I took the time to re-make it. This challenge is teaching me to adjust cooking times and temperatures by what I see happening in the oven and it is a lovely thing to realize that bread baking is a learn-able skill. The other lesson I have learned is that if things turn out less than picture perfect you can eat the evidence and no one is the wiser -that is until you tell the internet about it.

Next up: Kaiser rolls get a thumbs up!

BBA #13 You Say Fococcia, I Say Focaccia

Well hi there folks! We’re on to the next bread in the baking backlog. Recipe number thirteen is Fococcia – one of the best breads ever to grace my plate if you want my opinion on the matter. I remember the first time I had fococcia bread on my sandwich, it was at a  little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop near Red Rocks, Colorado and it left a major impression on my 15-year-old self, I was in love! I have ordered it many times since, so I was particularly intrigued by Peter Reinhart’s recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Without further ado let me show you how easy this was to make!

 Our cast of characters for this bread are pictured above: olive oil, unbleached bread flour, water, salt and yeast. Not pictured are my fresh herbs which missed out on the photo op.

 My mise en place.

Using the usual procedure, add the ingredients to a mixing bowl and then knead for about 7-8 minutes until you have a smooth, soft and sticky dough. Next flour your counter well and plop the dough on the counter and pat the dough into a shape approximating a rectangle. It helps to have floured hands for this.  Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax and recover from the trama.

Next, take the dough and stretch the dough till it is twice its size and fold it over letter style, mist the top with oil and cover with plastic and wait for 30 minutes. Repeat this step, only fold the dough in the opposite direction and recover. Wait 30 minutes. Repeat folding a third time but let rest on the counter for an hour.

During this two-hour fold and wait process. Grab some fresh herbs, I used thyme, rosemary, and chives. Dice the herbs fairly fine, about 1/2 cup worth and then add about a cup of olive oil and some coarse grain salt and fresh ground pepper. Give it a stir or two over the two hours. Finally, your dough is ready, it will be a little larger than before your folding.

Find a piece of parchment paper and place it in a rimmed baking sheet and spread with a generous amount of oil. Place your dough on the parchment paper.

Using the tips of your fingers press the dough into the corners of the pan. Spread half the oil over the surface.  Your fingers will have left dozens of  little dimples on the surface of the dough which will allow the herbed oil to soak into the dough. Cover the dough and place the pan in the fridge overnight.

The next evening pull the dough out of the fridge, it should have expanded to fill the sheet pan. Dimple the dough down again and pour the rest of the herbed oil mixture over the top. Cover and let rest on the counter for 3 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a rack on the middle shelf. If you want add any additional toppings you want on the dough. Once in the oven, lower the temp down to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the fococcia is a light golden brown and your kitchen is filled with the most amazing aroma. Test the dough with a thermometer and remove from the oven when the internal temp reads 200 degrees.

As quick as you can, remove the fococcia from the pan and place on a cooling rack, then try and convince yourself to wait the recommended 20 minutes for the bread to cool before you slice yourself a piece and enjoy the fruits of your labor. It was just perfect. I will make this one again for sure – maybe with cheese on top, or a desert style with melted chocolate and cinnamon sugar. The possiblites are endless…..

Next up: French Bread

BBA #12 English Muffins

Oh man, these were good! I never thought that I would ever make English muffins! I love them, but always thought they were just easier to buy at the store. BUT, due to their price – yikes – they were regulated to some-what of an indulgence. I was so excited to learn how to turn simple, cheap and easy to find ingredients in to one of my favorite  breakfast foods! Let’s see how it’s done:

Find some unbleached bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and buttermilk (or regular milk) and set them out. My buttermilk was frozen so, I put both the buttermilk and the butter in a bowl and microwaved them just until the buttermilk was melted.

Add together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Then mix in the buttermilk and butter.

I used my bread whisk to get the dough started and then dumped the mix into the Kitchen Aid and used the bread hook to mix the dough until I could get a window-pain and the dough was smooth and elastic. I oiled the bowl and placed the dough in the bottom and covered it with plastic. I let the dough rise until doubled (between 60-90 minutes).

 Once the dough is doubled, I wiped down the counter top with a damp sponge and placed the dough ball on the counter. Trying not to deflate the dough completely, I carefully divided the dough into six pieces and formed each into a boule.  I sprayed a piece of parchment paper with oil and set the six boules on the paper with enough room for them to rise again. I recovered them with  the plastic and waited for them to double again. (Another 60-90 minutes).

Meanwhile, I placed a liberally oiled griddle on the burner over a medium flame. I also preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough had doubled, I placed three boules on the griddle and let them cook for about 7 minutes. I should have checked them a little sooner, since they were a little on the dark side. I flipped them over and gave the other side the same treatment. When I the first three were done I placed them on a pan in the oven and cooked them for another 5 minutes. This allows the inside of the muffin to finish cooking. I repeated this process with the last three boules. This is one recipe that I could have easily doubled or tripled!

Look at those! So good, just a bit of tang from the butter milk and lots of little “nooks and crannies” to let the butter sink into.

 The trick to “nooks and crannies” is to use a fork and pierce the side of the muffin all the way around, then tear the two sides apart. Toast till golden in the toaster add butter and your favorite jam.

If your feeling fancy, you could whip up some Hollandaise sauce, poach and egg and slice some ham to make the best Eggs Benedict you could ever have! Enjoy =)

Next up: Focaccia