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.