Sunday, March 28, 2010

BBA Challenge Bread #27: Portuguese Sweet Bread

I made this one a couple of weeks ago. Big hit with everyone. One that I will definitely come back to. Slightly sweet, with a hint of lemon and orange. Although it looks very dark, it is not burnt -- the crust is quite soft. Great with coffee and/or tea!

BBA Challenge Bread #4: Rich Man's Brioche

The Bread Baker' Apprentice includes three brioche variations: Rich Man's Brioche, MIddle-Class Brioche, and Poor Man's Brioche. I decided to go for broke and try the Rich Man's version -- a whole pound of butter -- it is definitely one rich bread. The crumb is super buttery yet light and tender, however all that butter made for a lot of work. It is a very difficult dough to work with, very sticky and very difficult to incorporate all that butter into the dough even with a bread machine doing the mixing. (I gave on attempting it by hand pretty quickly!)

The dough took a very long time to rise, slowed down by all that fat and the chilly temperature this morning. I attempted the traditional brioche a tete shape, but they sort of flattened out while baking. Maybe the "head" was too big? Next time I try this bread, I will make the Middle-Class version and hope they turn out little prettier.

BBA Challenge Bread #3: Bagels

By far the best bagel recipe I have tried to date.  Still not equal to a top notch NYC bagel, but even those are getting harder to find. More and more bagels are assuming that "bread with a hole" characteristic that most home bagel recipes have. These bagels were chewy with a slightly crisp crust and lots of flavor thanks to a long overnight fermentation in the fridge.

High gluten bread flour and malt syrup are key to this formulas success. While you can substitute bread flour and honey, I think it is well worth the effort to hunt down these ingredients (online if you must, King Arthur Flour's website carries both) if you are looking to replicate a true bagel.

(NOTE: I skipped bread #2 -- Artos, Greek Celebration bread -- because I wanted to track the authentic spices mentioned as alternatives. I plan to make this one for Easter.)

BBA Challenge Bread #1: Anadama Bread

The "formulas in The Bread Baker's Apprentice are listed alphabetically. Most people doing this challenge have been baking them in that order. I will be skipping around from time to time depending on ingredients, scheduling issues and the fact that many of the first few breads are sweet and/or very rich and I would like a little more variety week to week.

Anadama bread is a New England specialty. Don't let the smell of molasses put you off. This is an interesting bread, soft and chewy with a little crunch from the cornmeal. The dough came together quite nicely. Makes a great sandwich bread. Makes 2 or 3 loaves depending on the size of you loaf pan. You may choose to sliced one up and freeze it as I did.

The BBA Challenge

I have often thought of cooking my my through some of my cookbooks and had already begun a winter frenzy of weekend bread baking when I came across this challengePeter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, is practically a course in itself on bread baking and in just a few weeks, my baking skills have drastically improved. 

Other favorite baking books of mine include: Marcy Goldman's The Best of (I'm on my second copy), Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Cake Bible, and The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. More on those at a later date. 

Being very late to the BBA Challenge, I will do some lighting round posts to catch up.