Entries Tagged 'BBA Challenge'

Sweet Skillet Corn Bread with Bacon and Fresh Cut Corn

Cut Corn Bread

Can you believe I’ve made it through the tenth bread in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge? I was a little surprised to see a quick bread recipe in the book, but I’m really happy that Mr. Reinhart decided to include this corn bread.

It’s sweet and dense, without being too heavy.  The slices were crispy on the outside, but very moist inside.  The sweetness of the fresh cut corn is nicely balanced out by the salty bacon on top.  I pretty much loved everything about it!

Of course I’m from California and I grew up eating a fairly sweet corn bread.

Hot Corn Bread Continue reading →

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Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread Slice

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t so sure about this one.  I love raisins, but I generally prefer my cinnamon bread to be raisin-free.  And walnuts?  Well, they’re great in banana bread, but again, I like my cinnamon bread the way my mom made it, thank you very much.

But I was wrong.  So so so wrong.  Not about my mom’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread, of course.  That one will always be a favorite.  But this Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread is now tied with Casatiello as the favorite bread I’ve baked so far in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.  This bread is good.  And I mean really good! Continue reading →

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Cinnamon Rolls or Cinnamon Buns? Delicious Either Way!

Lightly Glazed Cinnamon Bun

I call them Cinnamon Rolls, Peter Reinhart calls them Cinnamon Buns.  Whatever you call them, these things are delicious!  These Cinnamon Buns are the eighth bread in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge!

What fun we’re having with this challenge!  Unlike some of the other great baking groups out there, we aren’t all baking the exact same breads at the exact same time.  But that’s what I’ve really grown to love about it!  It’s wonderful to have support and advice from those who have baked the bread before you, and it’s equally nice to be cheered on by those you who are following along behind you.

Speaking of being behind, it might seem that I’ve fallen behind in the challenge since I actually made these cinnamon rolls a couple of weeks ago.  But I’m further ahead in my bread baking than I am in my blogging and I plan on completing the tenth bread tomorrow!  You’ll just have to excuse me as I rush you through two bread posts this week (you’ll be reading about the next bread tomorrow) so I can try to get back on my original BBA blogging schedule.  I’ll try. We’ll see.  Either way, I’ll be sharing the process of every single bread I bake regardless of whether it’s on time or not!

I’m going to try something a little different this week.  Since the photos are self-explanatory, I’m going to let them stand on their own, without explanation.  Let’s see if you can follow along! Continue reading →

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Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: Ciabatta

Ciabatta Crumb

Last week I finished bread #7 in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.  The bread was ciabatta and while I was excited to try it, I admit that I was a bit nervous.  Lots of BBA Challenge members finished their ciabatta before me, so I knew that the bread wasn’t turning out perfectly for many people.  Everyone seemed to be saying the same thing:  great flavor, but not enough holes!

In addition to its signature flat and rectangular shape, ciabatta is known for its open crumb with lots of big, shiny holes.  And I’ve learned over the years while trying to perfect my own loaves of sourdough, the open crumb with big shiny holes is much harder to achieve than a great flavor!

Peter Reinhart offers many variations for his Ciabatta formula.  We had the option of using either a Poolish or Biga for the pre-ferment — the main difference being the amount of water added to the flour and yeast during the pre-ferment stage.  A note in the sidebar mentions the option of enriching the dough with olive oil, milk or buttermilk, for a softer, more tender loaf.  And he also gives directions for Wild Mushroom Focaccia, Ciabatta with Cheese, and Caramelized Onion and Herb Ciabatta!  But even with all those choices and variations available, I decided to stick to original formula using only flour, salt, yeast and water. Continue reading →

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Learning to Braid Bread Dough: Peter Reinhart’s Challah


Bread #6 for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is Challah.  This was my very first time making Challah and also the very first time braiding any type of bread dough!  Luckily, both the bread and the braid turned out pretty darn good.

Challah (listen to the pronunciaton) is a traditional Jewish bread that is eaten on the Sabbath and holidays.  The dough is enriched with eggs and lightly sweetened.  The bread itself is delicious, but the shaping is what makes it so spectacular.  The bread dough is divided, rolled into ropes and braided.  The braids can be really fancy, but I stuck to a standard three-strand braid since it was my first time.  After braiding, the loaf is brushed twice with an egg wash and sprinkled with seeds.  The resulting loaf is shiny, golden and absolutely beautiful! Continue reading →

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Casatiello: No Need to Make a Sandwich

Slice of Casatiello: Italian brioche with Salami and Cheese

This savory Italian bread already has all of my favorite sandwich ingredients inside of it!

For week five of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, I baked Casatiello. Peter Reinhart describes it as a rich, dreamy Italian elaboration of brioche.  His description is beautiful and poetic, but the Casatiello is even more so.  Rich, but light and fluffy, studded with chunks of salami and filled with oozing pockets of cheese, this bread stole my heart. Continue reading →

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Rich and Buttery Brioche

Brioche, Bacon and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

I really can’t believe I’ve already made it through week four of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge! The fourth bread we tackled from the book is brioche.  Yes, buttery and delicious brioche.  Although I love to eat the stuff, I had never before baked brioche at home so I was really looking forward to this one!

Peter Reinhart gives us a choice between three versions of a basic brioche: Rich Man’s Brioche, Middle Class Brioche, and Poor Man’s Brioche.  Since butter is the most expensive ingredient in this bread, it stands to reason that the Rich Man’s Brioche contains the most amount of butter (a whopping 16 ounces).  The Middle Class Brioche calls for a more moderate amount of butter, while the Poor Man’s Brioche almost seems healthy after reading the butter content of the other two. Continue reading →

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Peter Reinhart’s Bagels

A Variety of Bagels

Week three of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge has ended and I have to say that I am sad to say goodbye to these bagels!  I would happily make these once a week for the next year if there weren’t so many other tempting breads coming up.

Bagels are one of those things that I always assumed you had to buy from a bagel shop if you wanted the ‘real thing.’  I’m certainly not a connoisseur, but I’ve had wonderful, chewy bagels in both New York and Los Angeles that put every other bagel I’ve tasted to shame. It’s certainly seems to be true that the real deal can’t be found just anywhere.  I’ve had decent bagels in San Diego, but nothing to get overly excited about.  However, I can now tell you that it is possible to make a great bagel at home, even in San Diego, because these babies rivaled anything I’ve eaten before. Continue reading →

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