Monday, January 11, 2010

Bread Baking Bonanza

I've been baking bread like mad in the last couple of months. Mostly it has to do with the fact that fresh bread is yummy, healthier for you and uses up less plastic. It also keeps me slightly saner to feel creative in the kitchen. After working my way through Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (and then buying the second book), I decided, for grins, to try to work on "harder" bread.

My first attempt was a Pugliese.

That's no moon!

It was enormous. Tasted pretty good, but not amaaaazing. It took an extra day to make because I had to create a pre-ferment called a biga. Very interesting.

Then, I decided to create a bread called Pain de Campagne. It took 4 days of creating a pre-ferment and then it wasn't very good when I finished baking it.

Flat, dense and sour.

In between the more complex breads, I was still making the AB5M breads and enjoying them greatly. There's a lot to be said for bread that you don't have to spend a lot of time making and yet tastes great!

Lentil curry bread. Yes, it was green.

The lentil curry bread sounded good to me, in theory, but I needed to find out what it would be like in reality. As it turns out, Caitlin, Eric and I loved it. It turned dark brown once cooked, but was still sort of dark green inside. Caitlin received flak about it at school. Her friends don't understand why she doesn't have "normal" bread. Green bread was really blowing their minds.

Five minute baguette. Easy and yummy.

I also love the reaction I get from friends and family when I break out a bread for dinner and they inhale it.

However...around Xmas time I asked Eric for a new bread book. This one is called the Bread Baker's Apprentice and teaches you quite a lot about the science behind the loaves. I love it.

The very first bread I made from it?

Large bagels in front have just been boiled.

Bagels are coated in onion (back), sesame seeds (middle) and a mix of light and dark sesame seeds, poppy seeds and salt (front).

Baked bagels make the house smell fantastic!

Of course, I had to make cream cheese to go with the bagels. It takes 2.5 days to make the cream cheese and 2 days to make the bagels. It's not just baking, it's a commitment and it may as well be good! As it turns out, these bagels were fantastic!

And that was just the start of the fantastic breads in this book. There was Anadama bread, which I've read about but never had an interest in making.

Anadama bread.


I jumped at making cinnamon raisin bagels and discovered that I'm never doing that again, unless I have a much larger KitchenAid mixer. That dough is tough, in order to be chewy, and the addition of all of those raisins makes it impossible to knead in my 4.5 qt without having a raisin shower. had to hand knead it for many more minutes than I ever wanted to.

Cream cheese on cinnamon raisin bagels.

I was glad to be done and glad to eat them. They're on my list to make again...some day. Just like croissants. I made those in my pastry class years ago and haven't made them since. There's an awful lot of work in those things!

Not pretty, but pretty yummy.

Baguettes that took a pre-ferment and two days to make.

Oooh! Aaah!

I learned about proper folding technique to stretch the outer dough and make a properly shaped loaf of bread.

Light whole wheat. More effort than I want to put in for a single loaf.

I made a bread entitled Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, so I felt almost dared to make it.

Poppy seeds on crust.

Interior crumb.

It had brown rice in it and wheat germ, oats and cornmeal. It was incredible. I need to make it again, it was so good!

The last one I made (so far) was the Casatiello.

Oh. My. God.

It's a sandwich within a bread.

Butter. Eggs. Buttermilk.
It was so good that I'm surprised the neighbors didn't break down the door from the heavenly scent wafting out the front door.


In the end, though, all of this bread winds up in our bellies.

And on the floor.

And stuffed between the pillows on the couch.

And in a trail that heads upstairs to the twins' room.

You see, while I love my bread and eat it all up, those short people are known to be a little...messy when it comes to eating.

Jamface Man.

But they love the bread. And they like to watch while I make it and sniff all of the ingredients.

Logan elbows Emma for room on the stepladder.

They also offer to touch all of the balls of dough and taste test anything before and after it is done baking. They love anything with a soft crust (Emma is terrible about picking out the middle and then dropping the crust wherever she wants.) and are tiny Carbivores. If it has flour in it, they want to eat it.

Yup. It's been a bread bonanza around here. You should really drop by and have a bite!


johnfordfw said...

What a lovely site. Thank you. It reminds me of why I used to love to make bread. It inspires me to do so again!


Anonymous said...

Very impressive! When we return from Florida, its north to Louisville for snacks and snuggles.

Paul Pursglove said...

Very impressed with your photographs of bread, it is clearly the real stuff. I am interested to know your bagel recipe as I am currently comparing bagels in order to develop my basic bread website on

friday said...

Good blog~nice to meet u..................................................................

Anonymous said...

I hate wheat digesting people! But those loves sure looks scrumptious...

kimik said...

oops, didn't mean to be anon-y-mous

EOlivas said...

You did alot of baking! wonderful pics!

ellen said...

I am sooo jealous on so many levels. First, I have no free time to make bread now that I am in school full time. A friend gave me a starter for sour dough and I had to let it die. The horror! Hey, it required regular feedings and I already have to feed 5 people regularly. I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to making bread anyway. Lastly, I am not eating anything with yeast in it right now, which totally sucks, and that makes your bread look even more delicious! I can imagine the yummy smell in your house...

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