When I mentioned to folks at work that I was planning on making bagels a few weeks ago, I got a look like I was going to try to reinvent the wheel. Of course they all wanted to try them as well.
The “classic” bagel, made most famous by the Jewish bakers of NYC, is boiled for a short time before baking. The BBA bagel formula takes this style of bagel as its inspiration and adds a sponge to get the fermentation process going earlier. Like most of the formulas in the BBA, this is a 2 day process. Unlike the other 2 day breads I’ve made so far, you get to do most of the work on day 1 for the bagels.
The bagel dough is very stiff, so stiff that the formula recommends mixing and kneading by hand (so as not to endanger your stand mixer). That of course is a non-issue for me as I don’t have a stand mixer to use anyway. After mixing up the dough, you actually get to shape the bagels before putting them in the refrigerator overnight to retard.
On day 2 its time to boil and bake the bagels. I boiled 3 bagels at a time for a minute on each side. After I had boiled enough to fill a sheet pan, I placed them in the oven per the instructions. I think for my oven, I needed to bake them longer than I ended up doing. My bagels didn’t get that nice golden brown color on the top. They were fully baked through the inside however. I sampled my first bagel when it was still slightly warm and it was good. However, the texture and the flavor of these were much better after they had fully cooled.
Oh and those folks at work? They liked the homemade bagels.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/bagels/
Diving back into the BBA Challenge, I started a biga on Monday night. This was the only one of the 3 pre-ferments in the BBA that I had not used yet. As this is an Italian style pre-ferment, I chose to make the Italian Bread.
Italian Bread is similar to a French Bread, but with a few extra ingredients. This dough is enriched with oil, sugar, and dry malt extract (which I happened to have due to my trip to the home brew supply store for beer ingredients last weekend).
As always, I kneaded by hand. I’m really starting to want to take a class on breadmaking. I feel like I’m always adding a bunch of extra flour to my dough to get to a tacky but not sticky dough. I also don’t think I’m always passing the “window pane” test. I do get a little window pane…but it also tears pretty easily as well. The dough was within the right temperature range when I left it to ferment. The other reason I’d like to take a class, is to work on my shaping. One of these loaves ended up pretty close to what it was supposed to look like, but the other i didn’t quite get my edge sealed so I had a little edge on one side of the loaf.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/italian-bread/
French baguettes are going to take some practice. While the bread tastes fine, it doesn’t have the gassy texture you should have with a good baguette. Also my scoring lines were apparently not deep enough, as the bread didn’t crack on them. This however my first attempt at hearth style baking in my oven. I cooked these on my pre-heated round pizza stone, which is why two of the loaves are shorter than the third. Maybe the next time I attempt this formula, I’ll have a rectangular stone, so all three loaves can be equal.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/french-bread/
My journey through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice
continues with Kaiser Rolls (inspired by the pictures of Pinch My Salt and What We’re Eating’s Pulled Pork on Kaiser Rolls
). I considered substituting brown sugar (per the advice of Pinch My Salt
) as I was having a hard time finding barley extract powder or barley malt syrup at the store. When I found it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend $5.99 on a 16oz jar of which I only needed 1 1/2 teaspoons of. But in the end I decided to splurge and get it (figuring I could use it the next time I make the Anadama Bread for instance).
My second bump in the road making these rolls, was that I didn’t have a spray bottle. This was needed both for creating a little steam in the oven at the beginning of baking and for putting on the seeds on the tops of the rolls. I ended up using flax seeds instead of the more traditional sesame or poppy seeds. They fell off the finished rolls easier than I think the sesame or poppy seeds would have, but they still tasted good.
I made these in mind of using for buns for bison burgers. To match the size of the rolls, I made my patties a little smaller than normal, between a “slider” sized patty and a regular sized patty. The burgers were kept pretty simple with a single slice of provolone and a piece of lettuce. They definitely made a tasty MLKjr Day dinner.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/kaiser-rolls/
This bread is described by Peter Reinhart as one of the great New England breads. The story he relates to the name of the bread is the story of a man who’s wife has left him, leaving behind only a pot of cornmeal mush and some molasses. He mixes that together along with some yeast and flour and mutters “Anna, damn ‘er!” It later gets amended to the more genteel “anadama”
For this bread, I used agave syrup instead of the molasses (I had the agave syrup and not the molasses). It made for very nice sandwich bread, I had roast beef and provolone sandwiches for my lunch for a couple days with this bread. The next time I make this bread, I think I’ll replace the molasses with the barley syrup I bought for the next bread I’ll be posting about.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/anadama-bread/
Since I figured I’d have some spare time, I brought my copy of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice with me while visiting my parents over Christmas. On the drive up to Oregon from LA, a stop in Corning at the Olive Pit inspired my third bread from BBA. (That and the memory of Nicole’s focaccia.) The Olive Pit’s Roasted Garlic Rosemary Dipping Oil was just perfect for the herbed oil called for in the recipe.
When I hit up the local grocery store (Market of Choice) to get some bread flour, I discovered something I’d never seen before. In the bulk section, they had a machine full of wheat berries that would be freshly ground into flour. Pretty much exactly like the more common fresh peanut butter machines, just for flour. So I got a bag and set into filling it with around 4 pounds of freshly ground hard red wheat flour.
This was another two day bread, that started with making a poolish. The poolish is a starter that you allow to ferment ahead of time to get nice start on long strands of gluten. Because I was using whole wheat flour, without any of the normal bread flour additions, I gave my poolish a little more time than normal. It also probably could have used a little more water for the yeast to work with. Nonetheless, the bread ended up turning out pretty good. It might have been a little denser then it would have been if I had used bread flour, but it was a big hit with the family.
just out of the oven
cut and ready to eat
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/focaccia/
The success of the Homemade English Muffins, had me wanting to explore the Bread Baker’s Apprentice even more. It being winter (a relative term in Southern California), a dinner of Chili and Cornbread seemed like a good idea. The BBA cornbread is no Jiffy Mix cornbread though. It takes 2 days to make and has a special ingredient full of win. Yes, the love of hipsters from SE Portland to Williamsburg, Brooklyn…Bacon!
The night before baking, I started a soaker of polenta and buttermilk. After soaking overnight the rest of the ingredients are mixed together and crumbled on top, 10 slices of thick cut bacon.
In the spirit of trying to eat locally and ethically, I picked up a pound of ground bison at the Hollywood Farmers Market. With this I made a simple red bean and meat chili to have alongside the cornbread. Both were excellent, especially as leftovers the next couple days (though the chili did outlast the cornbread).
I made this almost a month ago, so unfortunately the details of the cooking/baking are a little short.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2010/cornbread-and-bison-chili/
My friend Nicole is behind this little event called the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge (aka BBA Challenge). Basically, she picked a cookbook about bread baking and is baking through the recipes. When she posted this idea on Twitter, it took off, and now folks around the world are baking alongside her.
After a few months of seeing (and tasting the Focaccia) the wonderful breads Nicole was making, I decided to pick up a copy of the book myself. I’m may not end up baking completely through the book, but I’m going to try to make it through most of them.
I decided my first bread would be English Muffins partially because the recipe was pretty simple, but also because you grill them instead of actually baking them.
Mine ended up a little denser than Nicole’s English Muffins looked, and definitely denser than store bought, but they still tasted really good. My muffins also were a little inconsistent on the color, but I attribute that mostly to the fluctuating temperature on my gas stove/cast iron pan.
For that first one, I toasted it and spread some butter and my grandpa’s homemade huckleberry jam. It was fantastic!
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2009/homemade-english-muffins/