Sunday, September 6, 2009

Too Late for the BBA Challenge, so What Will I Do?

The bread challenges that are going on on the Internet intrigue me, but I'm too late to the party. I read about the BBA Challenge in the Washington Post. It started back in May and is closed with 200 bakers. They are baking their ways through the Bread Baker's Apprentice, a book that I own and would enjoy baking the recipes, but they are four months into weekly baking, so I can't really do that one. It did make me open the book to see the recipes and get inspired, though!

My grandson for whom I started this blog since he and I were baking every week, has moved away from his interest in bread baking. I continue to bake every week and needed some new perspective to inspire me.

So I've decided to pick a type of bread and bake that type of bread weekly for a month to determine which of the four recipes is the best in my opinion. I have lots of bread cookbooks and will have good choices to do this. I'm going to let The Bread Bible by Beth Hensberger be my guide for the first recipe this time because her recipes are always dependably good. (And I want the first thing I try to be really delicious).

If anyone would like to join me in this endeavor, let me know what you are baking and how it turns out - either post a comment or email me (see contact Linda on the left side).

The bread for September, my first month, will be plain white bread. I started week one with Hensberger's White Mountain Bread. She likes the crumb in this bread which is helped with a combination of water and milk in the recipe.

Note: In this work to find the best white bread I will not be varying the recipe from the cookbooks in which I find them so I won't be giving you the recipe. The previous recipes I've posted on this blog are somewhat different from the place where I found them or they were published already on the Internet. I'll hope instead that you'll want to buy the cookbook I am using and have the treasure for yourself!

As per her instructions, I let this bread rise in a straight sided container. I usually use a pottery bowl, but she says that it is better for the bread to rise up rather than out. So this time I used a large Tupperware straight sided container. When you turn the dough out of a straight sided container, it looks like the picture below!

To form the loaves, I divided the dough with a bench knife and patted each half into a long rectangle. I folded the rectangle into overlapping thirds and then rolled it up from the short end, pinching the ends of the roll with the side of my hand.

When fully risen, she says to slice a 1/4 inch deep slash down the length of the loaf. I did this, but I'm afraid that my slash was too shallow because it didn't really separate during baking. Next time I will be braver.

The loaf baked for 42 minutes and looked beautiful. I am not in my usual kitchen this weekend (I'm in the north Georgia mountains) so I didn't know how it would do without my Thermador oven. But it came out lovely and delicious.

This was a great bread for bacon/lettuce/tomato sandwiches - it toasted beautifully and we made sandwiches with heirloom tomatoes from the Farmer's Market in Rabun County.
As Hensperger noted, the crumb on this bread was very nice.

I believe in order to have an end of the month taste test, I'll need to freeze at least a slice of this bread for comparison.

Features of this recipe for White Mountain Bread: active dry yeast, whole milk, no eggs. I mention these because the next week, the bread I'll try will be from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. Peter Reinhart uses instant milk powder, instant yeast and his recipe has an egg in it.

Note: I also baked a second white bread this weekend from The Book of Bread.
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