The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge Has Begun!

Kneading Anadama Dough

I am completely blown away by the response to my Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.  We have somehow turned into a group of over 200 home bakers and we have all pledged to bake our way through Peter Reinhart’s wonderful bread book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.

How could this have happened?

It all started with one innocent little tweet.  Yes, I said tweet.  This whole crazy thing started on twitter. It was a Saturday evening not even two weeks ago, and I was sitting at home thumbing through baking books.  This is always one of my favorite pastimes, whether I’m in the mood to bake or not.

Looking through my books, I started to feel the itch to bake bread again (for some reason this always happens as we get closer to summer).  I started thinking of all the bread I baked when we were in Sicily, of how much I learned during my marathon sourdough sessions, and of how much I have forgotten in the last couple of years.

Looking through my bread books, I realized that I have had some wonderful baking instructors sitting neglected on my bookshelves.  It was time to learn from them.  I decided on a whim to choose one book and use it as a textbook for the summer; the book I chose was The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Since my laptop is always within arm’s reach, it was inevitable that the decision to bake my way through The Bread Baker’s Apprentice was broadcast to the world via twitter within minutes of my making it.

Here’s what I wrote: “I need a challenge. Am thinking of baking my way through every single recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Anyone want to join me?”

I didn’t really expect a reply other than maybe a few people telling me that it sounded like fun but who has time for such a thing.  Was I ever wrong.

Behold the power of twitter.

Within minutes, I had four people wanting to join me.  And an hour later, we were up to 13. Two days later, word had spread so much that Peter Reinhart himself e-mailed me to show support for what we were doing.  The group grew to 100.  We created a map and joked about world domination.  The group kept growing.  And then it happened, 9 days after my first BBA tweet, our crazy group of bread bakers grew to 200.

The last couple of weeks are a total blur.  Somehow we have come together from around the world and we are baking bread together.  We communicate via e-mail, blogging, twitter, a google group, a flickr group, and even a Facebook group.  We share photos, we ask questions, we give advice.  There are a few who before this group had never baked a loaf of bread, there are some who have been baking for 30+ years.  We are all learning from each other and it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

We will be baking together for the better part of a year.  We have 43 recipes to tackle and will be working at a pace of about one bread per week.  Some people will be baking faster than that, some will be taking it slower, but we’re all staying connected through the process.  And through Pinch My Salt, you will stay connected to us, too!

Want to Bake Along With Us?

There are several ways for you to join in the fun!  First of all, you need a copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Read the first section of the book carefully, as this will prepare you for the bread recipes in the second section of the book.  Then just jump in and bake some Anadama Bread!  Please visit The BBA Challenge Page for more details on how to participate in the group!

Happy baking!

  1. Jodi

    Wow Nicole, this is amazing! How exciting and I look forward to following and reading about this yummy challenge!! Good luck!

    3:24 pm  May 14th, 2009
  2. Susie

    I am having SO very much fun. I think I may have been the 27th blessed gal to find your challenge. 🙂

    3:25 pm  May 14th, 2009
  3. Audrey

    What a great story, Nicole – and thank you for being thusly inspired! This group is so much fun already and I haven’t even started my Anadama yet. I love that you read your baking books…I have to stop tweeting and read mine. 🙂 Thanks for bring us together. You’re awesome!

    3:27 pm  May 14th, 2009
  4. Deb

    Thanks again Nicole, you gave me the push I needed to get out of my bread baking rut!

    3:33 pm  May 14th, 2009
  5. Eagranie

    Oh, this makes the #bba twitter tag make so much more sense to me. I’m happy to live vicariously through your posts – love the photo!

    4:01 pm  May 14th, 2009
  6. Dana

    Missed your tweet but if you open to new members, I am game and I already have the book!

    4:06 pm  May 14th, 2009
  7. Caitlin

    Behold the power of Twitter indeed. I’m thrilled to be doing this – making the second bread this weekend, and the anadama was fabulous! Millions of thanks 🙂

    4:15 pm  May 14th, 2009
  8. A&N

    Yayyyyyyyyy! 🙂

    And I love that pic! The cornmeal glistens 😉

    4:31 pm  May 14th, 2009
  9. Jim

    I will be following and enjoying every little problem

    5:36 pm  May 14th, 2009
  10. Ben

    Wow! Where was I that I didn’t hear about it until recently? World domination through baking? That’s the world I want to live in :p

    6:00 pm  May 14th, 2009
  11. Andrea

    CRAZY! I’ll be following your progress!

    6:03 pm  May 14th, 2009
  12. Arundathi

    What a gorgeous photograph!!

    7:13 pm  May 14th, 2009
  13. SallyBR

    I can only join everybody in thanking you for starting this “crazy journey”

    I am having so much fun with it!

    7:18 pm  May 14th, 2009
  14. Laurie Ashton Farook

    You won’t reconsider opening to more people? I’m planning to join in and would love to make it official.

    Given that I’m in Sri Lanka, though, many ingredients simply aren’t obtainable here, so I’ll be modifying recipes with abandon. But then, sometimes, that’s half the fun. 🙂

    7:53 pm  May 14th, 2009
  15. Hélène

    Twitter is changing our World. I was following you before the Challenge but now it’s even more fun as we are doing this from all across the World with you.

    Love that picture. I’m sure that this challenge will help us in conquering the world of bread but also and more important it will make us meet new blogger friends. That will be a great year.

    Thanks again 🙂

    7:57 pm  May 14th, 2009
  16. Judy

    This has been so fun but I am really wondering how crazy I am!!! I was one of your first 4 sign ups! LOL! This is going to be an incredible year of baking…

    2:13 am  May 15th, 2009
  17. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Bread is always good, a new bread every week is better!
    So glad you tweeted LOL
    Always known I was crazy. It’s so much better knowing there are so many others.

    3:02 am  May 15th, 2009
  18. Andrea

    I’m so glad you tweeted that Saturday night and that I saw it! Thanks for keeping us all organized. I baked the Anadama yesterday and am cutting this morning for breakfast. Can’t wait to taste it.

    4:31 am  May 15th, 2009
  19. Michelle

    Bread is something I haven’t mastered yet. Not even close actually, so I’m looking forward to being a voyeur as you all bake your way through this book. I’m hoping to be inspired enough to try myself!

    9:53 am  May 15th, 2009
  20. Liz C

    Pooh! I just learned about the challenge and it looks like I’m too late. I even have the book already — it’s been sitting, unused, on my bookshelf for 3 or 4 years. Perhaps I’ll try to bake along. I’ll definitely be following you!

    I’ll add you to my Cooking The Books cook-through blogroll blog, too, under Meta-CTBs.

    11:34 am  May 15th, 2009
  21. Jamie

    Hey there! I wrote you an email several days ago wishing to join in on the baking fun. I haven’t heard back from you, so I guess it sounds like I missed the cut off since you’re not accepting any more bakers to join. Such a shame! I even went out that day and bought the book!

    Is there any way you will reconsider and allow more people to join so they can feel like its official?


    1:12 pm  May 15th, 2009
  22. Shellyfish

    I’m so sorry that I missed out on this! If there is any way to get into the official group, I would love it! I was just saying that I need to try to bake more from Apprentice – I’m a newish baker – baked my first cupcakes 2 years ago this month – and I’ve baked a handful of things from Apprentice, but I want to expand.
    I sure hope you’ll reconsider!

    2:03 pm  May 15th, 2009
  23. Penny

    Let me know when I need to come take some of that bread off your hands or do some taste testing for you!

    7:10 am  May 16th, 2009
  24. Trinity

    Too bad that the main group is closed, but I’m going to follow along and bake too. I’ve made the anadama before, and it’s spectacular!

    If you’d consider reopening the group, me too me too! 🙂

    12:01 pm  May 16th, 2009
  25. Susie

    The owner of this site and the creator of the BBA Challenge is gone for the weekend. She probably fried herself after getting all 200 of us somewhat organized. 🙂
    She’s great.

    12:07 pm  May 16th, 2009
  26. BBA #1: Anadama Bread « Appoggiatura

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  27. Amanda

    I’ll add my request as well for letting other people join the group! I think it would be lots of fun, but if it’s not official, I would probably not do it.

    10:06 pm  May 16th, 2009
  28. Wendy

    Thank you so much for organizing the challenge. You rawk! I love the picture of you kneading the anadama dough. It’s a great picture.

    5:21 pm  May 17th, 2009
  29. Judy

    The Anadama Bread was a big hit with everyone. Next time I make it I’ll use a little less molasses, maybe mine was too dark. But this is already wonderful and fun…oh Nicole, look what you’ve created! Amazing!!

    8:40 pm  May 17th, 2009
  30. Kathleen

    What a genius idea! I love it! I’ll be baking along with you whether I’m ‘officially’ in or not – just LOVE the challenge and motivation. I can’t wait to get stuck into baking through this wonderful book. I’m so glad you had the idea and shared it with the world!

    8:57 pm  May 17th, 2009
  31. bogartkick

    Thanks for this nice article. Bread is one of my favorite breakfast and snack meals, even with no sandwich spread. Yummy! Nice sharing!

    5:30 am  May 18th, 2009
  32. Vickie

    So sorry I missed your post before you closed off members! Would love to participate if you open to more bakers. This would be a great motivation for me to practice new break recipes, and I love the book!

    9:32 am  May 18th, 2009
  33. Becky O.

    you go! this is awesome. one of our local bakeries started their business because of this book…

    i can’t wait to see everyone’s adventures and hopefully bake a bit along with you all!


    10:30 am  May 18th, 2009
  34. Curt

    Do I get extra credit for being one of the first couple of people??? 🙂

    I’m starting my 2nd bread today!

    5:47 am  May 19th, 2009
  35. Diane

    I am baking breads that I have never baked before inspite of my 36 years of experience. I now have a blog to chronicle the journey. And I’m following a similar pattern of making soup to go with the bread by cooking, in order by copyright of her books, all of Rachael Ray’s soups. Who knew?

    Thanks for the inspiration, Nicole.

    10:34 am  May 19th, 2009
  36. ivyb

    So I have made the Anadama and the Christomos breads. The 3 loaves of AD are long gone.. did not last 6 hours! the (2) Celebration breads.. one came to work, all gone in a jiff! The 2nd one is for a friend of mine. I imagine she will like it, judging from my co-workers’ exclamations and how quickly they devoured it. Next up, bagels!
    Thanks so much for putting this together!
    ivy, ny (#53)

    10:57 am  May 19th, 2009
  37. Mrs. L

    I so wanted to join you on this. I have never baked bread, not even in a bread making machine! I’m hoping by following on your blog I’ll get the courage to give one of the recipes a try!

    12:47 pm  May 19th, 2009
  38. Paula - bell'alimento

    Thanks again Nicole for putting this whole group together & inspiring me to bake bread for the first time! The Anadama was amazing! I can’t wait to learn, grow & share my progress every week with the group!

    1:31 pm  May 19th, 2009
  39. BBA Challenge: Anadama Bread — Pinch My Salt

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    1:46 pm  May 19th, 2009
  40. The Kitchenette

    I wish I had been able to get into the BBA group. As it is, my best friend and I will be trying out a bread recipe this weekend! It will be my first bread-baking from scratch adventure. I’m quite excited.

    2:02 pm  May 19th, 2009
  41. Cathy

    Thanks Nicole for starting this challenge. I guess I missed the cutoff date as well. I’ll bake along with you guys even if I’m not in the official group. I think this is a fabulous idea! I’ll post it on my blog so other bread bakers can follow along in the fun!

    2:11 pm  May 19th, 2009
  42. SulaBlue

    Oh no! I heard about this group a week or so ago, but I wasn’t sure at the time if I was up for the challenge! I just started today on the Anadama bread and came back to find out that WHUPS! I’d missed the train!

    Oh well. I’ll be baking along with you at any rate, and posting my baking adventures over at The Yeast I Could Do.

    ~SulaBlue @ The Yeast I Could Do.

    1:32 pm  May 21st, 2009
  43. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge « Chilli & Chocolate

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  44. ATigerintheKitchen

    Love this! While I bake a lot at home, I’ve never made bread before … I’ll be living vicariously through you. Good luck!

    7:54 am  May 22nd, 2009
  45. Anadama… DAM’A! « Shimmies And Sprinkles

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    8:13 pm  May 22nd, 2009
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  47. Andrew Morris

    Wish I had known that one of these was going on. I think I will try to join you despite entering quite late. I was given a copy of this book by my brother for this last Christmas. I have made a few things from it, like french bread, but it would be fun to go in order. I have been making bread for a few years now, pretty much ever since I left home a couple years ago. This last year I have been making bread about once a week. I was looking for something that I might want to make tonight and was considering anadama bread. Obviously I won’t be able to do the BBA’s version since it requires a little while, but maybe for next week.

    Andrew Morris

    4:51 pm  Jul 31st, 2010
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