Thursday, August 27, 2009

Part Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls {bba}

As I was getting ready to bake the next bread in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (as part of the BBA Challenge) I wasn't as worried about being stuck in the seemingly-endless "C" section of the book as much as being mired in enriched sweet breads (with more to follow upcoming weeks). But it wouldn't be a challenge if all of the requirements were easy, right? Plus, even though I was tired of it, many people that I know would consider homemade sweet bread to be a treat so I knew that I'd be able to share my batch of rolls.

Now, on to planning how I was going to bake these.

The recipe has two variations: Cinnamon Rolls or Sticky Buns. None of us like the ultra stickyness, so cinnamon rolls it was. (Asked about sticky buns, J.D.E. said "ooh, pecans... no")

n.o.e.'s notes:

- I made my cinnamon rolls with about 1/3 whole grain (oat flour and white whole wheat), a bit of all purpose flour and 1/2 bread flour.

- I have a fairly fresh batch of fresh yeast in the fridge, so I used it for half of total yeast, and half was instant yeast.

- To keep the citrus accent very faint, I used a bit less than half of the lemon extract specified in the recipe.

- For the filling, I used brown sugar with cinnamon and a pinch of cardamom, mimicking the cinnamon filling from the cinnamon roll muffins that I'd recently made (and gave to my mother)

ready to proof
- I tried to make the "small" rolls, and cut 14 out of my rolled log. (Since my log was tapered a bit, my rolls were of varying sizes.) The rolls were huge by the time they came out of the oven! After making 8 recipes from this book, I've come to the conclusion that Peter Reinhart doesn't do small bread!

- Additionally, I didn't make the fondant glaze in the book (also has lemon in it) but just stirred together confectioner's sugar and milk then drizzled on a tiny bit of glaze over the finished rolls.

ready for the oven
the verdict:

These cinnamon rolls were a thousand times more to my liking than the ones I made with the brioche dough. The crumb wasn't as cakey; it was chewy, moist, yet tender. The brown sugar/ cinnamon was intense and a tiny bit of confectioner's sugar glaze was the icing on the cake so to speak.

[I'm sending these rolls to Yeastspotting!]

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quick Cinnamon Roll Yeast Muffins

If you are craving the taste of warm cinnamon rolls but not the effort involved in making and rolling a brioche-type dough, these delicious Quick Cinnamon Roll Muffins* are the perfect solution: they are made with yeast but no fuss, all the rising happens in the oven as it preheats, they come out beautifully puffy, and with or without an icing glaze they will reward you with yeast-y cinnamon-y goodness; my only tip is to sprinkle the cinnamon filling on top since it falls as the dough rises (mine all ended up on the bottom of the muffin cups and I had to scrape it off and stick it back onto the muffins) oh, and if you're using instant yeast, as I did, use 3 teaspoons.

As you may have guessed, I wrote the post above during One-Sentence-Blog-Post-Week, but never managed to get it posted, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to post the recipe source info in one sentence! Here's the scoop on the recipe:

*The original recipe was from Fleischman's Rapid Rise Yeast, and was for a cinnamon bun bread/coffee cake. It was baked in that form and posted by Baking Bites, and then baked as muffins by Joy the Baker. But I found the recipe from my blog friend Margot, of Effort To Deliciousness, who made muffins. Once I saw the muffins, I couldn't consider the bread version!

{edit to add that these muffins have been Yeastspotted!}

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BBA Slow & Steady #7: Ciabatta roundup

Those of us in the Slow & Steady subgroup of the BBA Challenge might still be in the "C" section of Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice (on our way to the end of the alphabet - and the book!) but we're not discouraged, nope, not one bit. We've been too challenged by the current bread, Ciabatta, to even notice that several more breads are still ahead before we escape the wily grip of the third letter of the alphabet.

Ciabatta is a rustic hearth bread which hails from Como, Italy - it takes its name from the region's dancing shoes which it vaguely resembles. Aside from that flat slipper shape, Ciabatta is also characterized by large shiny holes in the crumb. The loaf pictured up top demonstrates the holey nature; in fact that one is pretty much one big hole surrounded by crust! Now before anyone gets their hopes up and/or becomes despondent, that loaf in that picture was not baked by anyone in the BBA Challenge; it is a loaf of Ciabatta that I bought at a local bakery (Ciabatta accompanies dinner at our house nearly every evening).

To a greater or lesser extent, all of us had the goal of baking our Ciabattas with large holes. Read on to see how we fared in our quest.


Di, of Di's Kitchen Notebook, parlayed her new square of linen (for making a couche) and her substantial experience with wet doughs into two lovely loaf of ciabatta, one of which harbored these gorgeous holes in the interior
Here's Di's post: the hole (short) story


Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table was delighted to find that her bread looked exactly like the dancing slippers from the Como region of Italy that give this bread its name, and her family was delighted with the taste of the bread, dipped in herbed olive oil (yum!). She's already plotting to try this bread again, to see if she can get, guess what? Right, bigger holes! Her post: BBA: Ciabatta.


Leslie of Lethally Delicious was very disappointed in her ciabatta experience; her dense loaves left her wondering what went awry, but I know she will be back in the bread saddle just as soon as her wrenched back will let her (feel better, Leslie!)
Read about her experience here: BBA - Ciabatta FAIL


After a false start where a batch of dough almost broke her mixer, Audrey of Food From Books switched to a food processor and successfully mixed her bread dough. In true apprentice style, Audrey figures it will be a few more tries until she gets the interior crumb (holes!) that she'd like. I'm sure her new linen couche will get lots of work making beautiful hearth breads! Check out the full post: Bread Bakers Apprentice #7: Ciabatta


Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen had stiff competition from some amazing restaurant Ciabatta as her benchmark; luckily her version garnered compliments from her brother. She has made Ciabatta in the past from another recipe, so I'm attributing the sizeable holes in her bread's crumb to the practice she's had! Read her post: BBA SOS: Holla for your Challah!


Welcome to a new member this week, Margaret of Tea and Scones, who found that her bread was wonderful for dipping in flavored olive oil (check out the fennel in that picture - tasty!). She's hoping that a bit of practice will produce, say it with me - holes!
Her post: Slow and Steady BBA - Ciabatta!


I had the benefit of Cathy's wisdom (see below) when I wrote my Ciabatta post (because my post was so late) and I realized that I should to be content with the fabulous taste of my bread rather than fret about whether the crumb had the right type of hole. For the most part, my loaves had a fairly close crumb, but you can rest assured that as I was cutting the bread whenever a hole appeared, I whisked the bread to the nearest natural light and snapped a picture, like this one:


Cathy of The Tortefeasor, despite the restrictions of One Sentence Blog Post Week, managed to describe three lessons she learned from her "insanely delicious" bread; her post served as a reality check to me and is a fitting reminder as I conclude this round up that when a bread is as good as this ciabatta was for nearly all of us, the hole size really shouldn't matter!

Here's her post: BBA: Ciabatta


We will be back on the sweet side of the bread street with our next challenge: Cinnamon Bune and Sticky Buns. Look for the roundup here in about 2 weeks.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Garden Tomato Bread

When I received a Tweet from @SunsetMag linking to a page of tomato recipes I immediately fell in love with the picture of Garden Tomato Bread (whole wheat, herbs, and garlic along with a healthy quantity of ripe tomatoes and their juice - recipe here) so I earmarked some ripening tomatoes on my counter just for the bread and baked it this week; I had a few mishaps in baking a half recipe of the bread (in the excitement of converting to fresh yeast, I forgot to halve the water), but thankfully "bread is forgiving" and I was rewarded with two small hearth loaves of savory bread that was delicious with seasoned olive oil and even better as a grilled cheese (with aged cheddar) and my husband, who had earlier pronounced that "tomatoes belong in sandwiches, not bread" found the bread "surprisingly, good," although to him "good" does not mean "very good" or "fantastic" or, apparently, "I'd like some more," so I gave one loaf away and will be finishing the other loaf - happily - all by myself!

[This post is part of the One-Sentence-Blog-Post-Week Challenge! Also, the bread is going to Yeastspotting hosted this week by Macheesmo, look for the roundup on Friday. Some of my Twitter buddies baked this bread at the same time, see their posts here and here]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ciabatta {bba}

There are times when a reality check is in order: thanks to The Tortefeasor’s recent bread post I realized that I could indeed write about my Ciabatta (the next bread in the BBA Challenge, mine is the poolish version) in one sentence, and, more importantly, she made me see that I should glory in the superb taste of this bread, the best to ever come out of my oven (narrowly edging the fabulous bagels), rather than be disappointed in the lack of characteristically large holes inside; apparently my family members agreed because when I had apologized for the smallish holes in the bread they said, “So what? It tastes fantastic!” (and now I hope to bake all of the hearth bread for our dinner).

Friday, August 7, 2009

BBA Slow & Steady #6: Challah roundup

The stalwart members of the Slow & Steady subgroup of the BBA Challenge continue our way through all of the breads in Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Although we're still in the "C's" in this alphabetically-arranged book, we are making progress. Really we are!

The current bread is Challah, an egg bread that is traditionally baked for the Jewish sabbath. It's an enriched bread, with eggs and oil, but no dairy. Typically it is a rich golden color from the whole eggs and egg yolks used in baking it.

Sarah, of Blue Ridge Baker, needed some buns to bring to a July 4 get-together, so she whipped up a batch of Challah, baking one braided loaf and forming the rest of the dough as buns (see the picture, up top). She reports that the bread made fantastic french toast as well. Get the details in her post: BBA Challenge: Challah.


Cathy of The Tortefeasor turned out some professional-looking braided loaves, which she is used as a base for other recipes: croutons and French toast. Clever use of an abundance of bread, Cathy! Here's her post: BBA: Challah


Leslie of Lethally Delicious found that she learned a ton of lessons while making a loaf of Challah that her husband found irresistible. For example, don't braid your dough before you've had your coffee! Luckily, even with a bit of over-hydration (too much water), Leslie's bread turned out beautiful and delicious. Read about her experience here: BBA - Challah


Di, of Di's Kitchen Notebook, wrote a lovely post about reading with her girls, which she tied in very nicely with baking the challah. Her bread, although not a favorite in the taste department, was equally lovely, which Di attributes to all the practice she's had braiding hair. I guess when you come from a family of girls and have a family of girls, braids sort of happen naturally. Here's Di's post: Feeding body and mind


Although Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table might tell you her middle initial is "B", I'm convinced her middle name is "Determination!" Not satisfied with her braiding technique on her first Challah loaf (aka "Wild Child"), Kayte baked the bread a second time, and ended up with a much better behaved dough and a beautiful loaf. See both versions: BBA Challenge: Challah.


Audrey of Food From Books made a little hydration error (oops, too much water!) while mixing her bread dough, but luckily a little bench flour smoothed out the problem. Audrey's braided loaf looks professional, and although she found the bread pretty easy to make she found the taste a bit bland. Check out the full post: Bread Bakers Apprentice #6: Challah


Melissa of From Laptop to Stovetop baked a braided loaf that is a work of art. She loved the taste of this bread and is thinking of making the dough into pull-apart rolls next time! Check out her post: Bread Baker's Apprentice: Challah


Faced with an empty freezer and a modicum of free time, Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen managed to bake three bread recipes in one afternoon! The best part of baking Challah? Memories of baking with her BaBa, and popping the air bubbles in the dough. Two enormous Challah braids later, Jessica's freezer is no longer empty... Read her post: BBA SOS: Holla for your Challah!


Despite its pronounced resemblance to a plucked barnyard fowl, my Challah was fun and quite tasty as well. I'm not sure it matches the epic homemade Challah I ate on my babysitting job in my teenaged years, but I enjoyed eating it (and baking it, too) nonetheless. Here's my post: Challah {bba} or, Chicken and Egg Bread.

We will have a couple more bread bakers joining the Slow & Steady subgroup of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. Look for all of our loaves of Ciabatta in the next roundup!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Challah {bba}, or, Chicken and Egg Bread

When I was a teenager, nearly every weekend would see me babysitting for a family of three children. I loved the parents, the children were adorable, and generally well-behaved. One of the side benefits was the late evening snacking after the children were asleep. The mom, L, kept a case of Tab and a large package of Chips Ahoy in the fridge for us to share. She also baked Challah every week for the family's celebration of the Jewish sabbath, turning out perfectly braided, golden brown loaves. "There's fresh Challah," she'd say, "enjoy it!" And enjoy it I did - cutting off thick slices of the still-warm bread. L also showed me how she roasted a chicken (I remember it involved sprinkling paprika) and cut cucumber spears for a party (meticulously cutting off the strips of seeds).

So I was excited and just a bit apprehensive about tackling Challah last week (it's the current assignment in the BBA Challenge). Could it possibly live up to L's great bread? I'd braided bread once before, when making Artos, and knew that my technique needed work. I was also interested in seeing how the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice would taste.

Unlike many other enriched European breads, Challah has no dairy ingredients (it contains no milk, and uses oil rather than butter.) What it does have is lots of egg, which gives Challah its distinctive golden hue, inside and out.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- I didn't need much more bread in the house right now, so I made 1/3 recipe which was easy to scale (with the help of my digital scale).

- I used a duck egg, which has a bigger yolk than a chicken's. I reserved some of the white for the egg wash, using 40g of egg total in the dough. I'm guessing this gave me approximately the same proportion of egg-to-white as the recipe specifies for a full loaf.

- This bread was fairly easy to mix in the food processor. As usual, I pulsed the dry ingredients first. After adding the liquid, the dough was crumbly and dry, which seemed really odd. Then I noticed a little puddle of water on the scale and counter - it turns out that my metal bowl had a pinhole in the bottom and some of the water had leaked out. I had no idea how much I'd lost, so I added a little bit of water in small stream while pulsing, until the dough pulled into a ball in the food processor.

- I used olive oil.

- The dough was gorgeous to work with - so supple and satiny.

- After kneading I had about 1 cup of dough, made into a boule (round) shape for the first rise. It easily and quickly doubled.

- I divided the dough and had a bit of a hard time getting the strands to stay the length I wanted them - the dough was very elastic. I'd roll and pull each strandlong and thin and it would snap back to short and fat. In retrospect I should have let the strands rest for a few minutes so the gluten could relax, then stretch them thinner.

- Right after I took this picture (thanks for lending a hand, J.D.E.!), I noticed that the braid strands on the right end had come unstuck and I pinched them back. They kept coming loose and I kept pinching them back. I did everything short of stapling the dough together, but in the oven that one end popped apart again. It actually seemed that the right half of the bread rose more than the left.

- Scrolling down, the bread starts out looking fine, but then you see the whole thing, and realize that it looks exactly like...

a whole chicken, doesn't it?

(Maybe I should have trussed my bread braid like I do my chickens!)

the verdict:

This was delicious bread; refined yet chewy. I think my crumb should have been a little more closed, but we loved it just the same.

I don't think that this bread tasted as wonderful as the mythic Challah of my adolescence, but all the same I was proud that in my own kitchen I was able to produce even an approximation of that egg bread. Even if it did look like a roasted chicken.