Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: Italian Bread


The new year is about to begin and I’m determined to get back on track with The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge! I’ve fallen way behind many of my fellow BBA bakers, but the great thing about this challenge is that we each set our own pace, and even though I’ve fallen behind, I can pick right back up where I left off and continue working toward the goal of finishing all the breads in the book.  And since I am behind several of the others, there are plenty of people I can turn to for help or advice!

Today, I’m writing about the 15th bread in the challenge:  Italian Bread.  I actually baked and photographed this bread months ago, so bear with me as I try to remember the details of the process – luckily I took lots of photos.  One thing I do remember is the wonderful flavor of this bread.  I gave a loaf to my friend Caron for her birthday, and she shared a buttered slice of the still-warm bread with me in her kitchen.  There’s nothing like sharing bread and butter with a friend! Continue reading →

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Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: French Bread

Baguette with Butter

So it turns out that I have fallen a bit behind on The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.  Life doesn’t always cooperate with bread baking and blogging, and that’s the reason I’ve encouraged everyone to bake at their own pace and take breaks as needed.  Well my break is now over, my husband is home from Iraq, and I’m ready to jump back in and share some bread with you!

Bread #14 in the book is French Bread.  After the huge success of the focaccia, I was a little worried that my baguettes would disappoint.  I’ve never made a basic French bread, and it’s so easy to pick up great-tasting baguettes from our local bakeries, I wasn’t sure it would be worth the effort.  But, as usual, Peter Reinhart proved me wrong.  This bread wasn’t that difficult, and it had an amazing flavor! Continue reading →

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Herbed Focaccia from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Piece of Focaccia

Ok, let me come right out and say this.  This focaccia was the best I’ve ever tasted in my life.  Period.  Like many of the formulas in the book, this one takes two days to make.  And although it’s more labor and time-intensive than other focaccia recipes I’ve tried, I’m pretty sure it’s the only one I will ever make again.

This is the 13th bread I’ve made for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge (with 31 more to come) and it has moved up to the top of my favorites list.  Honestly, I didn’t think I could love any bread more than the salami and cheese-filled Casatiello.  But I was wrong.  Foccacia, I love you. Continue reading →

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Homemade English Muffins

Toasted English Muffin

Have you ever thought about making English Muffins from scratch?  If not, maybe you should!  They are surprisingly easy and lots of fun to make.  You might not know this, but English Muffins are baked on a griddle rather than in the oven.  Since I am somewhat obsessed with watching things bake and have a tendency to plant myself on the kitchen floor in front of the oven glass, I love that these get baked on a griddle where I can get up close and personal!

I’ve made english muffins several times over the years, but this is my first time using Peter Reinhart’s recipe.  Yes, this is another installment from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge and it’s another great one!  Although sourdough english muffins are my favorite, these plain white muffins were outstanding!  Like many of the bread formulas in the book, this one calls for buttermilk, and I think that’s what made them so great. Continue reading →

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Peter Reinhart on Bread

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BBA Challenge: Cherry Pecan Celebration Bread

Cut Celebration Loaf

And here comes number eleven!

That’s right, I’m still plugging away at The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge and the next bread up is Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread.  But since Mr. Reinhart gave us the option of choosing different dried fruits and nuts, I decided to celebrate cherry season and use tart dried cherries and pecans in my bread.

Although it is definitely a gorgeous loaf worthy of a celebration, this bread was surprisingly easy to make!  No unusual ingredients for this one, just bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, buttermilk, eggs, butter, water, lemon extract, dried tart cherries, and pecans.

Celebration Bread Ingredients Continue reading →

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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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