Sunday, November 7, 2010

BBA Slow & Steady: Marbled Rye Roundup

It can be a real challenge to photograph loaves of bread; all of the bakers in the slow and steady subgroup of the BBA Challenge have faced this difficulty as we've baked our way through the book The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Luckily today's bread, the Marbled Rye Bread, is festive enough to provide for an exciting picture, even without any additional props!


Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen is not, and has never been, a fan of rye bread, and after baking this bread she can say she never will be a fan of the rye flavor. Luckily all was not a total loss because Jessica had tons of fun marbling the bread - that's her loaf up above. Click over to her post: BBA S&S Loafin' Around, where you will see lots more pictures of her beautiful marbling work.


For Natalia of Gatti, Fili e Farina the hardest part of baking this bread was remembering to buy the rye flour! After that it was smooth sailing, and Natalia's marbled hearth loaves are exquisite. Her write-up is here: BBA Slow and Steady: Marbled Rye Bread


Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table loved the outside, the marbled inside and the taste of this bread, which she used for Reuben sandwiches: "I know, thrills are cheap these days, but this was just so much fun to do!" Just look at the perfect spiral in her bread! You can find Kayte's post here: BBA: Marbled Rye Bread


Leslie of Lethally Delicious found herself procrastinating when it came time to bake the marbled rye bread. Luckily she garnered a few hints from those of us who had baked the bread earlier, and ended up loving the looks and the taste of her bread. Don't you just love a success story? Here's Leslie's post: BBA - Marbled Rye Bread


Rye bread is a long time favorite of Margaret of Tea and Scones, and Peter Reinhart's swirled version did not disappoint. She used cocoa to get that beautiful contrast in color in the two doughs. She describes her experience here: Slow and Steady BBA - Light Wheat Bread and Marbled Rye.


An (unintended) use of blackstrap molasses (rather than the lighter stuff) left me without the required color contrast for successful marbling, I enjoyed forming my not-marbled knot rolls, and definitely enjoyed the depth of flavor in this delicious bread recipe. My post: Not-So-Marbled Rye Knotted Rolls.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Not-So-Marbled Rye Knotted Rolls {bba}

Since my childhood I've always loved rye bread in any form - and the next bread I was to bake in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice , Marbled Rye Bread looked particularly appealing to me. The picture in the book shows a lovely loaf with beautifully delineated light and very dark areas.

My husband is the primary bread eater around here, and eats it either as breakfast toast or an accompaniment to dinner. Since he has never been a fan of rye toast I decided to make this bread as dinner rolls. I had visions of cunningly twisted knots of light and dark dough baking into high-contrast, visually appealing (delicious, of course) puffy rolls.

Sad to say, the reality of my rolls diverged significantly from the vision of lovliness I'd imagined. As you can see in the picture, the marbling was essentially non-existent, but luckily the rolls did taste delicious.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- Here's the basic techique for this bread: mix up two different colors of dough, roll them together to form one loaf (or, in my case, rolls), then bake. The result should be marbled splendor.

- Although the two doughs look a lot different in the book, they are in fact nearly identical in ingredients. One of the dough has extra ingredients added to darken the color.

- The recipe calls for two kinds of flour; one third of the flour is specified as "white rye flour," a double sifted flour with the bran and germ removed. I didn't have any of that kind of flour, so I used some medium rye flour that I had on hand, and stirred it through a sieve to remove the coarser bran particles.

- For the remainig two-thirds of the flour, Reinhart gives a choice of either bread dough or "clear flour," a coarser flour with a higher content of bran and ash than bread flour. Clear flour is commonly used for making rye bread. I had ordered some "first clear" flour from King Arthur Flour, which I used for this bread.

- The dough contains molasses as a sweetener. Both the light and the dark doughs contain the same amount of molasses, in fact. This is where my bread went irretrievably off the track. The molasses made my "light" dough fairly dark. My light dough and my dark dough were essentially the same color. Additionally, I realize now that the organic molasses is "blackstrap" (although it's kind of hidden on the label) which means it's darker (and stronger in flavor) than ordinary molasses. So that's why both of the doughs were so dark. If I were to bake this bread again, I'd probably use honey or golden syrup in the light dough to make sure that the contrast in color would be noticeable.

- Reinhart gives instructions for darkening the dark dough with liquid caramel color, or with coffee, carob, or cocoa powder (which can make the dough a slight bit bitter). I didn't have any of the liquid caramel color. I first tried adding coffee to my "dark" dough. Sadly the dough didn't end up darker than the light dough. As a last ditch effort, after the dough was already mixed, I sprinkled super dark cocoa powder and tried to knead it in. It wasn't successful on any front. The dough was streaky but not really darker.

- Once my dough had risen, I rolled it into snakes then twisted them together into rolls. It really was impossible to tell the two doughs apart by looks; the "dark" dough did have a slight bitter taste.

the verdict:

Despite my many woes with producing actual marbled bread, the rolls ended up tasting quite good. My husband loved them, even though he usually doesn't care for rye bread.

Monday, June 28, 2010

KA part whole wheat hamburger buns

One of the very best parts about learning to bake bread at home is that you can avoid trips to the grocery store when you run low on bread, and can instead whip up your own batch of wonderful fresh-baked bread. Faced with no plans for dinner on a lovely summer evening, I quickly thawed a pound of ground beef for burgers, and decided to bake some buns to complement them.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- I found the recipe on the King Arthur website.

- I made 1/2 recipe.

- For flours I used 1 c. whole wheat, 1/3 c. oat flour, 1/3 c. high gluten flour, and the remaining flour was all purpose.

- Instead of active dry yeast I substituted 2 scant teaspoons of instant yeast, which I added with dry ingredients.

- I mixed the bread dough in the food processor . First I put in 3 cups of the mixed flours, then added the wet ingredients which were cold. I pulsed the processor until the dough was stretchy and registered at least 77 degrees and "windowpaned" - about 2 minutes.

- The dough rose slowly. Finally it was tie to shape the rolls and I used 77 g of dough for each roll.

- The rolls could have used a bit more time on the second rise, but it was getting to be dinner time so I went ahead and baked them. Right before baking, I sprinkled the rolls with coarse salt.

the verdict:

These were soft, moist, and flavorful buns, a perfect complement to the burgers. We loved the salt on top (no surprise there since we love salt on almost everything).

I'm submitting the rolls to Yeastspotting, a weekly compilation of delicious yeasted breads, presented every Friday.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

BBA Slow & Steady: Light Wheat Bread Roundup

The bakers of the slow and steady subgroup of the BBA Challenge pulled out our loaf pans to bake the next bread in Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice, the Light Wheat Bread. There are no tricky parts to baking this bread, and in the end the recipe produces a versatile loaf. Although the BBA bakers do not post recipes for the book's bread, Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted this bread last year, including the recipe, which you can find here.

Nicole, of the blog Pinch My Salt, is the founder of the BBA Challenge. Lately she has been baking at the same pace of the slow and steady bakers, so I thought I'd include her in our roundups. That's her bread up at the beginning of this post.

For Nicole, this bread was "easy to make, easy to eat, and not too bad to look at, either. The proud loaf that came out of my oven puts store-bought sandwich bread to shame." Nicole includes lovely step-by-step pictures in her BBA posts, so do yourself a favor and click over to her post: Bread Baker's Apprentice: Light Wheat Bread

As an aside, I'll note that most of us baked this bread months ago (and have, in fact, baked many of the BBA breads following this one) but my blogging efforts are lagging behind the pace of the group's baking.


Leslie of Lethally Delicious tried this bread first with high gluten flour and the bread didn't work for her. She switched to her favorite - bread flour - and the bread turned out beautifully. Its subtle flavor played well with other foods in Leslie's opinion. Here's Leslie's post: BBA - Light Wheat Bread


Natalia of Gatti, Fili e Farina found this bread to be straightforward and a wonderful vehicle for her homemade jams and marmalades. That sounds wonderful, yum! Check out Natalia's post: BBA Slow and Steady: Light Wheat Bread


In the course of all this bread baking, Margaret of Tea and Scones has discovered that she really enjoys whole wheat breads. This recipe was not her favorite, however; she thought it lacked "oomph." It looks beautiful though, doesn't it? Read more about it here: Slow and Steady BBA - Light Wheat Bread and Marbled Rye x


Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen cleverly baked this bread as dinner rolls, which are versatile enough in her book to serve as toast, sandwich bread, or, as rolls at dinner (supper? you decide) time. Her post: BBA S&S: Light Wheat Bread


Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook baked her Light Wheat Bread with white whole wheat flour. She found it to be perfect for toast and grilled cheese sandwiches. See more at this post: mmm, toasty


Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table and her family enjoyed this easy and delicious bread, saying, "the bread was wonderful, soft and lovely for sandwiches and just crackly nice for toast." Here's Kayte's bread: BBA: Light Wheat Bread x


And here's where I have a confession to make, one that should get me bounced out as a food blogger. Although I baked this bread, and we enjoyed every last crumb, when I went to write a blog post about the bread I realized that I had no photographs of it. Rather than re-bake the bread just to take pictures (which I actually contemplated doing), I decided to skip the post and report here in the roundup that this was a lovely bread. I used regular whole wheat flour and added a bit of oat flour to the dough as well. According to my notes, here's the verdict: This was lovely loaf of bread. Made delicious toast.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stout, Oat, and Honey Knots

This is one of those recipes that at first glance seems to call out "winter" - the ingredients include stout (or cider) and oats, which conjure up images of a hearty, cold-weather bread. But really, I've baked them several times, and they are just as delicious in warm weather as they are in cold. And I'm posting them now because my good blogging friend Natashya of the lovely blog Living in the Kitchen with Puppies (with a blog name like that you know we just have to be friends, right?) is hosting this month's Bread Baking Day, and she chose the theme "Breads with a Twist." There's nothing twist-ier than a knot, in my opinion, so I'm going to post these wonderful knotted rolls as my participation in Bread Baking Day #30. In early June Natashya will post a roundup on her blog and it's always amazing to see the variety of breads from bakers around the globe.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- These rolls are a Dan Lepard recipe, one of a series of recipes that are published weekly by the Guardian. I love to check on Saturdays to see what Dan's baking up each week. recipe here

- Here is a youtube video of Dan baking these rolls:

- Dan came across the rolls in Findhor, on the Firth of Moray in northeast Scotland. The rolls incorporate oats that are cooked in stout - or cider - before being mixed with the flour and yeast.

- I've baked these rolls with all Guinness Stout , with Guinness stout supplemented slightly with an ounce or two of chocolate stout, and I've baked them with the alternate beverage listed, apple cider (I used the non-alcoholic kind, although the recipe might have been contemplating the "hard" kind).

- For the whole grain component the first time I baked the rolls I chose half rye, half white whole wheat. I've also used King Arthur Flour's Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour, which is a rough-ground whole grain soft wheat flour.

- I've used instant yeast and fresh yeast (6 tsp) with equally good results.

- The recipe produces 1200 g of dough, which makes 8 rolls @150 g each. These bake up into fairly large rolls, suitable for sandwiches. You could also make a dozen rolls at 100 g each, which would give you a generous dinner roll.

- The dough is soft and sticky, so the knots didn't keep their definition as well as the Italian knot rolls that I baked last year, and about as well as the kaiser rolls that I baked recently.

- In order to get a light coating of oats on the rolls, the dough is formed into logs, then rolled on wet paper towel and dipped into loose oats before forming the knots.

I ordered this cool cutting board here after hearing about it from Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen
the verdict:

These rolls are one of my favorite breads - substantial but not heavy, filled with the complexity of whole grains but not a bit dry, tinged with mystery from the stout, and just a touch sweet, especially version with the plain apple cider. These do just as well on the edge of a cold salad plate in summer as they do on the rim of a bowl of steaming soup in winter.

I'm also sending the rolls to Yeastspotting, a weekly compilation of delicious yeasted breads, presented every Friday.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

BBA Slow & Steady: Lavash Roundup

Although many of the bakers from he BBA Challenge are actually finished baking every single bread in Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice, those of us in the Slow & Steady subgroup are baking slowly, but somewhat sporadically, on. This is our 17th bread, Lavash Crackers. Let's see how the S&S bakers enjoyed this one.

Margaret of Tea and Scones (that's her lavash in the photo, above) took note that Peter Reinhart suggested we use several different types of toppings on the lavash: "poppy, sesame, caraway seeds. Kosher salt. So I did. I also used some Italian seasoning (NOT a good choice) on part of the sheet. But the pieces with just salt were the best." Here's her post: Slow and Steady BBA - Lavash


Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen baked her lavash in a wonderful black and white mode (black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sea salt.) She formed crackers, and the whole effect is quite chic. Jessica gives a helpful analogy of lavash to fashion that you won't want to miss, so read her whole post: BBA S&S: Lavash


Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table is always up for learning a new technique, so she really enjoyed making lavash. Her family really enjoyed eating it, so she will doubtless get practice rolling her lavash even thinner next time. Her post: BBA Challenge: Lavash


Leslie of Lethally Delicious enjoys making flat breads, having a favorite crisp rosemary flatbread recipe she got from blogger Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures. For Reinhart's version of crackers, Leslie used her pasta roller to get the dough thinner-than-paper, which she later found to be too thin, as the bread baked almost instantaneously. In the end, although she liked the lavash, it was "just too high maintenance" and Leslie will probably stick to her standby recipe. Here's Leslie's post: BBA - Lavash Crackers


Wendy of Pink Stripes took a different direction with this recipe. Peter Reinhart gives the option of baking this dough as pita bread rather than crispy crackers. Wendy baked six 2 ounce pitas, which was not enough because she found these pitas "fluffy and light," not dry like store-bought ones. Read more here: {bba} not lavash crackers


I topped my lavash with coarse salt and found that this recipe turned out surprisingly delicious saltine crackers! (I'm not sure why, after nearly a year baking from this book I'm surprised at how good the bread turns out) So delicious, in fact, that my husband and I ate them - plain - for dessert every evening until the crackers were gone. Here's my post: Lavash {bba}

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lavash {bba}

The next bread for me to bake from Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice as part of The BBA Challenge is Lavash, which Wikipedia explains is a cracker bread of Armenian origin, and very popular in surrounding countries as well. In his recipe, Peter Reinhart gives the option of baking the same dough into pita bread, that soft hollow flat bread that makes a great vehicle for sandwich fillings and salads.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- I substituted fresh yeast for the instant yeast in my dough.

- The recipe called for honey; I used honey crystals which I thought would be a good balance for the extra liquid in the fresh yeast.

- The type of vegetable oil in my lavash was olive oil.

- It turned out that I was low on bread flour, so I filled in with a bit of high-gluten flour.

- I rolled my dough so thin that it was almost transparent.

- In Peter Reinhart's hands Lavash is covered with a variety of seeds such as poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Most of the seed options are not favorites in this house, so I decided to go with coarse salt, for my own version of saltine crackers.

- After baking, the bread is broken into shards, which make quite appealing-looking crackers.

the verdict:

The lavash baked up to be crispy and delicate, and I was shocked at how good simple crackers could taste. They just about melted in my mouth! Around our house the favorite way to enjoy this flat bread was unaccompanied; in fact we loved it so much that we ate lavash for dessert for several days in a row until there was none left. Just the crackers, plain - absolutely perfect!

I'm sending this fabulous flat bread to Yeastspotting, the weekly roundup of all things yeast-y. Stop by on Friday to see what clever bakers worldwide have been baking this week.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

BBA Slow & Steady: Kaiser Rolls Roundup

The lead bakers in the BBA Challenge have been posting the final bread in the book The Bread Baker's Apprentice but we in the Slow & Steady subgroup continue to bake in our own deliberate pace, and are about halfway through the book. The current bread for us: Kaiser Rolls. This bread turned out to be a universal hit with the S&S bakers. Read on for details.


Leslie of Lethally Delicious is always learning from the BBA! This week she learned that a roll stamp doesn't make as good swirls in the top of kaiser rolls as the handmade knots would have, and the water spray didn't make the rolls as shiny (or the seeds stick as well) as an egg wash would have. She also found that the recipe made just enough rolls to enjoy without needing to share them! Click to read Leslie's post: BBA - Kaiser Rolls


Margaret of Tea and Scones loves rolls, and of all the rolls, sheloves making kaisers most of all because it's so much fun to knot the dough! Her rolls look just like the ones in the book - see from her picture, above? Here's her post: Slow and Steady BBA - Kaiser Rolls


Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen has had a long history with "cute" kaiser rolls - the ones from the grocery store that are shiny and covered with seeds and full of promise but when you get them home turn out to be chewy and dry disappointment, but now she can add a new chapter: her very own cute shiny seed covered kaiser rolls that are not dry but rather a perfect hearth bread - kind of a cross between French and Italian bread (but with an egg) - crusty on the outside and soft inside. Read more here: BBA S&S: Kaiser Rolls


Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook isn't able to buy true kaiser rolls in her neck of the woods - the ones she finds are soft, so she was excited to bake this bread recipe. So excited, in fact, that she baked a double batch, adding a bit of whole grain flour to her dough. (Truth be told, Di might have had a bit of a difficult time sharing her rolls.) The story is here: On a roll


Karen, of the blog Shortbread loved her kaiser rolls, saying,
"They’re like a ray of sunshine, a light from above. The best thing about them is that they start out as a humble dough of just a few ingredients, and then somehow miraculously turn into gorgeous rolls with an intense depth of flavor."
Check out her post, It's a Dream Kaiser Rolls, to read about her dream and see more photos of her terrific rolls.


Over in Italy, Natalia of Gatti, Fili e Farina used her sourdough starter in place of the recipe's preferment dough and turned out beautiful kaiser rolls. She knotted the dough because she doesn't have a roll stamp. She coated some with poppy seeds and others with sesame seeds - so pretty! Here's her post: BBA Slow & Steady: Kaiser Rolls


Coming across a two-day recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, such as the Kaiser Rolls, no longer intimidates Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table. Even though these rolls take a bit of attending to the rising and shaping steps, the delicious results are well worth the extra work, and overall, the rolls were "downright fun to make." Check out her post: BBA: Kaiser Rolls


Leave it to Wendy of Pink Stripes to make mini 1-ounce kaiser rolls (just think of those tiny dough knots!) and make them into "sammiches" for a party, filled with goat cheese, pesto, and roasted red peppers. Hmmm, my invite must have gotten lost in cyberspace! Find her report here: {bba} mini-kaiser rolls


As much as I've always liked kaiser rolls, I never expected that this recipe would bowl us over the way it did. It's my husband's favorite bread from the BBA (although it is VERY hard to choose). I made Beef on Weck sandwiches with some of my rolls, but my husband refused to put anything - other than butter or olive oil - on his rolls because he didn't want to "ruin" them! I experimented with three different ways to form the rolls, and I found that the roll stamp (center, in the picture above) didn't make a lasting impression (pun intended!) My kaiser post: Kaiser Rolls {bba}

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spiced Stout Hot Cross Buns

Hot-cross buns! Hot-cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons,
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!
But if you have none of these little elves,
Then you may eat them all yourselves.

So goes the nursery song, describing the traditional English spiced buns that were eaten on Good Friday. (For a bit more history, check out my last year's hot cross buns post here.) Reading between the lines, it appears that if you have any hot cross buns, you are supposed to give them away. The preferred recipients appear to be any daughters that you might have. Failing that, hand the buns over to your sons. No children? You get to eat the buns yourself!

I baked a big batch of buns this year, and by chance my daughters were visting home this week! I sent most of the buns home with my older daughter to share with her Easter weekend guests.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- Hot cross buns are a kind of celebration bread, filled with fruit and spices. The smell of this dough reminded me of some of the celebration breads that I've baked in from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

- The recipe for these hot cross buns is from Dan Lepard, part of his "How To Bake" weekly series for The Guardian. I love to check the site each Satuday to see what Dan is baking up. Ingredients for these buns include stout, tea, raisins, spices, and candied citrus peel. It sounded like an intriguing combination of ingredients, so I was very eager to see how the buns would turn out.

- This is the first time that I've followed a Dan Lepard recipe that employs an overnight pre-ferment; in this case stout, yeast, some of the flour, and the spices are mixed together, covered and put aside overnight.

- In a separate bowl, the raisins and peel soak in black tea for the same length of time. I ran out of regular raisins, so I measured out a combination of raisins, golden raisins, and currants.

- A big bag of homemade candied citrus peel (lemon,lime, tangerine, orange) was resting in my freezer and I was very excited to find a great use for it. (I posted about the candied peel recipe that I use here)

- The next day, the dough is mixed in typical Dan Lepard style: combine all ingredients, rest briefly, knead for 10 seconds every 10 minutes (3 cycles) then shape, rise, bake.

- I had run out of bread flour (it happens, even to bread bakers!), so I combined 2/3 all purpose flour with 1/3 high gluten flour (approximately).

- I measured out 100g for each bun, and ended up with 20 1/2. If I'd been a little more thoughtful when I was working, I could have avoided that half roll, but warm from the oven the little bun made for a great taste test for my daughter.

- Last year's buns featured a piped cross made from icing, but the crosses on these buns are a flour and water paste. After the buns come out of the oven they are brushed with a sugar glaze.

- I'm submitting these buns for Bread Baking Day #28. The theme this month is "Bread Buns" and is hosted by Rachel of Tangerine's Kitchen. Rachel will be posting a roundup, so be sure to check back to see the wonderful bun-ny bread!

The happy little half-bun, in bad artificial light!
the verdict:

After the rolls had mostly cooled, my daughter ALE tasted the little half roll. Here's her reaction: "yum. That's good. (pause) That's really good." After a few more bites, she gave a more complete assessment: "I like the glaze. I can taste the stout. I usually don't like fruit in breads, but I'm dealing with it. That candied peel is good."

She shared the buns with her friends, and reported that they made a big hit. Her boyfriend loved the peel and the complex variety of flavors.

Wishing a blessed Easter to all who observe the holy day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kaiser Rolls {bba}

I'm sure that I ate hard rolls in my early years, but my clearest - and fondest - association with kaiser rolls is from the wonderful trip my husband and I took to Austria in 1983. We'd been working for 2 1/2 years with no vacation time aside from the odd long weekend, and were sorely due for a break. It was my first time abroad and we spent 2 weeks hopping trains and buses around Austria, visiting big cities (where we sat in cafes and drank coffee and hot chocolate) and tiny towns (where we spent our time cross county skiing). We stayed at bed-and-breakfast type accommodations, and breakfast was, invariably, kaiser rolls, butter, and jam with coffee and tea.

Ever since that time I've had a soft spot in my heart for a Continental breakfast! I can say that I never dreamed that I'd ever tackle homemade kaiser rolls, but the next installment of the BBA Challenge found me baking the Kaiser Rolls from Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- This recipe uses pâte fermentée, a type of pre-ferment that is the same percentage of ingredients as the finished dough, but made in advance so the flavors develop. After a day or so in the fridge, the pâte fermentée is mixed with additional fresh ingredients to make the final dough. As usual, I mixed the dough for this bread in the food processor. Although I don't reproduce the BBA recipes, you can find the recipe for this bread here.

- A batch of kaiser roll dough makes nine 3-ounce rolls.

- I shaped my rolls three different ways, shown above. The first was knotting the dough (roll on the left in the picture above), which was a bit tricky, but gets easier with practice. I also used a roll stamp, but even though I pressed very hard to make as deep an impression with the stamp as I could, the pattern turned out very faint (see middle roll, above). The third technique I used was folding or pleating the edges of circle of dough into the center (see the roll on the right, above).

- I baked some of my rolls with salt and seeds to make Kummelweck rolls (famous in Buffalo, NY as the base of the local specialty, Beef on Weck sandwiches. I made the sandwiches, which are posted on my other blog)

the verdict:

I'd assumed I would make this classic bread, taste it for nostalgia's sake, and that would be it before moving on to something more exotic and delicious. But I ought to know by now that the BBA breads will always exceed my expectations, especially when I'm not expecting anything spectacular. This bread happens to be our favorite bread so far - the only one that my husband asked me to bake again the minute that the last roll was eaten.

Whether you eat these rolls with butter and jam for breakfast, or with roast beef and horseradish for dinner, I highly recommend them!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rye and Seed Crackers

I've spent so much time baking bread from Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice as part of the the BBA Challenge that I've had little time to explore the bread in his new book, Artisan Breads Every Day, although I've had a copy since it it first came out last Fall. (I also have his Whole Grain Breads book which is fabulous.) When my friend Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook asked me if I wanted to bake the Crispy Rye and Seed Crackers from the new book I jumped at the chance to join her. As circumstances would have it, we couldn't find a convenient time to bake at the same time, and I think Di might not have ended up making the crackers.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- I won my copy of Reinhart's new book in a giveaway sponsored by Jude of the blog Apple Pie, Patis, and Pate. Thanks, Jude! Although his blog has been on hiatus for several months, check the archives for some beautiful bread and other foods.

- You can find the recipe for these crackers here. There is no leaven at all in this recipe, but I'm including it on my bread blog because it came out of Reinhart's bread book. Makes sense to me.

- The cracker dough has several kinds of seeds, which are combined with rye flour. I ground the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in my spice blender. Instead of grinding flax seeds, I used flax meal that I had in the fridge (it keeps much longer there).

- I mixed my dough in the food processor (surprise!). It was a bit sticky, so I added more rye flour, about a tablespoon or 2.

- Instead of a floured counter, I kneaded the dough on an oiled counter.

- Using a straight edge for a guide I cut half of my crackers into diamond shapes, as Reinhart does in the book - and as NPR did in the recipe link above. (I gave away all of the diamond-shaped ones and later realized that I forgot to take any photos of them.) The other half I cut with a dinosaur-shaped cookie cutter. Why dinosaurs? Why not??

- I topped my crackers with salt for garnish. I was a little too exuberant with the salt, but luckily it was quite easy to brush off the excess after the crackers were baked.

- The crackers that turned out the best were the ones that I rolled very thin and then baked until they were browned and crisp.

the verdict:

These made a surprisingly big splash at my book group meeting. They tasted a lot like Wheat Thins, but in a rye-ish kind of way. All in all, a nice savory cracker and a very cool way to incorporate whole grains.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

BBA Slow & Steady #15: Italian Bread roundup

Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice continues to delight the Slow & Steady bakers, as we make our way from beginning to end as (very slow) participants in the BBA Challenge. We're approaching the middle of the book; right now we're on Italian Bread, another classic hearth bread that we'd all love to master. Read on to see how we did (hint: as a group we were far more successful than with the previous recipe, French Bread).

This week I'd like to welcome a new member of the Slow & Steady group, Wendy of the blog Pink Stripes. She began the BBA Challenge at a quicker pace, but decided to stop and smell the roses and finish the book with us!

Wendy baked the Italian Bread as torpedo rolls - pictured above - to accompany her (not quite) vegetarian Christmas Eve dinner. They were a hit, especially with her mother, who always advises that good bread, good conversation and good wine are the keys to a good dinner party - smart mom (aren't they always?!) Read more on her full post: {bba} italian bread torpedo rolls


Although the two day process for baking the bread is a bit time consuming, Karen, of the blog Shortbread found the taste of her Italian bread rolls "fantastic" and the time investment "so worth it." She suggests that the rolls would be a great base for sub sandwiches. Read her post: Super Bowl Subs Italian Bread Rolls


I love the way Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen introduced her bread: "Next up is Italian bread, the softer, more versatile friend of French bread. It's still a hearth bread, but this time with feeling. Italian bread gets its wonderful personality from a biga starter and the addition of some barley malt. ...If you know anything about Italian bread, you know it likes to party. Italian bread is great on its own, but it's also a great base for things like garlic bread and sandwiches." For more hearth bread insight, check out Jessica's post: More Globetrotting Breads! BBA French Bread & Italian Bread


Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table found this bread "less fussy" than the French bread was. The texture and flavor were wonderful and Kayte's husband loved this bread for his sandwiches. Sounds like she will be busy baking this bread from now on! Read more: BBA: Italian Bread


Thanks to Natalia of Gatti, Fili e Farina we learn that because of the added fat in its ingredient list, the bread that we call "Italian" bread is softer than the breads in Italy usually are, and she calls this kind of bread "Corean [Korean] or Indian" bread. Whatever it's called, this bread looks pretty spectacular and I'll bet it tasted just as delicious! More about this stunning bread at: BBA Slow and Steady: Italian Bread


A newly-self-professed "bread snob," Leslie of Lethally Delicious now bakes, rather than buys her daily bread. The Italian bread came together smoothly, and her verdict: "I thought it was pretty great, especially in a sandwich." Here's Leslie's post: BBA - Italian Bread


Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook showed her bread-baking expertise on this week's recipe. She has baked the BBA Italian Bread several times previously, so she decided to experiment this time around and used her sourdough starter as the main leavening agent in her bread's biga pre-ferment. She baked one large loaf and it turned out perfectly! When the rest of us are ready to start baking with sourdough starters, thank goodness Di will be able to guide us. Her post: Italian Bread


Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker had a bit of an adventure while her Italian bread was baking. One step to getting fabulous crust on hearth breads is to pour hot water into a pan on the floor of the oven as you place your dough in to bake. Unbeknownst to Sarah, the water extinguished her oven's pilot light! Even though the oven had cooled a bit, her bread baked perfectly - as if nothing in the world was wrong. Sarah liked the fact that this bread had a softer crust than the French bread, as it was easier for her little ones to chew. Read about her bread here: BBA Challenge: Italian Bread


Although her bread spread a bit more than she would have liked, Margaret of Tea and Scones thought that her Italian bread was a perfect accompaniment to some stew. Looks perfect to me! Here's her post:: Slow and Steady BBA - French and Italian Bread


I can't say that I have the shaping of Italian loaves figured out, but my bread turned out pretty well in spite of me, and we absolutely loved the taste. My post: Italian Bread {bba}

We will continue our streak of crusty white breads with Kaiser Rolls. Stay tuned!