Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge (BBA) – Anadama Bread

I decided to take part in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge led by Nicole of Pinch My Salt. Each week we will bake a recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice cookbook by Peter Reinhart. We showcase our work via flickr, twitter, and the blogosphere. I am doing this as a challenge to myself. I will stick to the program and learn new skills. I will not be sharing the recipes, for the most part, just the techniques used. I encourage you to buy this book as well. You can find the book here on Google Books – many of the recipes are searchable.

Last week I baked the first bread on the list, the Anadama bread. The Anadama bread is traditional to New England. I started off the bread with a corn meal soaker, turning the corn meal into mush. I have never used or made a soaker before. These are the kinds of recipes that I have always shied away from.

I let the corn meal sit all day – mushing. When the liquid was absorbed, I began to create a yeast and flour based soaker to which the corn meal mush was added. I let the starter ferment for an hour. I then added the rest of the flour and the special ingredient – the molasses.
When I put the dough aside to let it proof, I had to keep myself from peeking under the towel. It doubled in size. I was thrilled. After shaping the loaves, I let it rise some more. Then into the oven it went. It came out perfect. I had to hold back and not eat the whole loaf.

The bread is excellent toasted with butter, or toasted with avocado and turkey. Yum. Check out #BBA on twitter if you would like to follow along with us, or just keep coming back to the blog. Stay tuned for the Artos bread coming soon!

Homemade Bagels

Whenever I go back home to the midwest, bagels are at the top of the list of delicacies to bring home to the parents. Along with a list of good smelly food from Zabars, bagels rank pretty high. Maybe higher than lox even. You see, where I grew up, bagels can come in the form of the Lenders bagel, or the flavored bagels at Bruegers and Byerlys. If the bagels were only as simple as an onion and garlic bagel or a salted bagel, we would be ok. In Minnesota, bagels come in flavors like Cinnamon Streusel, Blueberry Pie, and other unmentionables. We were taught that you hoarde the precious bounty of East Coast bagels in your basement freezers and they only come out when the VIPs come for brunch.

Back when my office was in Chelsea, I had some decent bagel buying options, albeit a bit overpriced. Way downtown in the financial district, our options are slim. My options are even slimmer near my house. The one bagel place in the neighborhood, serves overpriced, raw, lead-filled bagels. They even add a toasting fee when you visit the store. Crazy stuff, right?

So I have been researching various bagel recipes. The whole boiling step always scared me away. I learned that it really is easy to make bagels. It is not much more difficult than any other bread recipe. The recipe that I am posting below, was perfect for us. It was light, but crusty and chewy and came out perfectly when toasted. It reminded me of a Toronto bagel, which is perfectly fine with me.


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cup warm water
4 cups bread flour (very important since you need to gluten to aid in the chewy factor)
1 tablespoon salt
extra sugar or honey and a pinch of baking soda for the bagel bath

1 egg for the egg wash
assorted toppings (minced onion, minced garlic, kosher salt)
In the bowl of your mixer, combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough until it comes together in a large ball and pulls away from the mixing bowl. I ended up needing to add some additional water, around a tablespoon. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead by hand for 10 minutes. The dough should be very elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F. Add some sugar and/or honey and a pinch of baking soda to the water. Make sure to keep the water at a low boil.
When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball . Let though dough balls rest for around 15 minutes. Do not let them sit too long or they will be over-proofed and end up very flat after baking.

Now it is time to turn that dough ball into a bagel. Poke a hole through the center of the dough ball with your finger. Twirl the ring round and round a bit to stretch the hole. Let bagels rest for about 7 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, lower the bagels into the bagel bath. You can “bathe” about 3-4 bagels at a time. Boil for 2 minutes and then then flip and boil for an additional minute. Transfer the bagels to a wire rack to drain and then place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Do this for all 12 bagels. Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and toast to serve.

These bagels freeze well.

Beer Bread

I came across this bread recipe on a natural parenting site that I frequent. Everyone was raving about this bread. I am not usually one to follow the cultish trends, but this seemed like a fun experiment to test on a day off. I learned a few lessons along the way. One being that the bread is awesome. Two, is that I didn’t even need a whole day. If I had a toaster oven at work, I could do this during my lunch hour. It’s that quick and easy. Three, is that the bread gets eaten very fast if you have people mulling about your kitchen. It’s really that good. I do plan to make some variations of this again. Maybe adding some herbs, olives and/or some roasted garlic.

Beer Bread


3 c self-rising flour (poured loosely into measuring cup)
1/2 c sugar (do not decrease or substitute) – I will experiment with less next time
1/4 t baking powder (probably optional)
12oz can/bottle beer – not Corona, I don’t know why…just don’t use the Corona. I used Heineken.
3 T butter, melted – do not use margarine or any other substitute


Preheat oven to 375.

Mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

Add the beer. Mix a few strokes until everything is mostly incorporated. Do not overmix. Do not knead. The dough mixture with be sticky, wet, and lumpy.

Pour into a loaf pan. Pour the butter over the top. Please remember that the butter is very essential.

Bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes., until the top is brown and crispy. This bread top is essential. It is the best part of this bread. Let cool, a little. Dig in!

If G-d forbid you don’t finish the bread on the same day, store in a ziplock bag. The bread is pretty good when toasted.

No-Knead Bread

Maybe I am a sheeple…but it works.
The latest trend in bread baking was brought on by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois in their book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I just ordered the book. While I wait for the book to arrive, I decided to try out the master recipe that has been posted all across blogs and newspapers. The duo have a website, click here.


Master Recipe by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Makes four 1-pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water (about 100ยบ F)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)
Cornmeal for the pizza peel


In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.

Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.

After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.

Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.
Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.

Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don’t have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.

When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.Here is a picture of my first try. I was definitely impressed and surprised that it worked.


It isn’t so pretty, but it tastes good dipped in olive oil. Would be good with a good hearty soup. I hope for prettier bread with the remaining dough. I will add some rosemary and garlic with the next batch.

Rosemary Bread

I would like to remind you that I am not a baker. I baked. I experimented. It wasn’t all that bad. I am not ready to venture into cakes and cookies this week. I am tiptoeing into breadmaking. I decided to try my hand at a flavorful bread. I love rosemary and I love garlic…so I knew what was coming. I looked at all sorts of recipes that I wasn’t thrilled with. In the end, I used 3 or 4 different recipes to come up with my own creation.
I wanted at least one or two loaves. In the end, I got one large loaf and eight rolls.
Rosemary Bread
  • 2 cups warm water water
  • 3 tsp. yeast
  • 3/8 cup of olive oil
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper
  • 1 whole garlic – roasted lightly then sliced (you could lightly saute it as well)
  • A handful of fresh rosemary – chopped
  • 5 cups bread flour
Pour warm water into the bowl of your mixer. Add yeast. Add sugar. Let sit until bubbly. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Knead the dough. Put dough into an oiled bowl. Let rise until doubled, about an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape into loaves or rolls. Let rise 30 minutes. Bake until done. Cut a thick slice. Dab with butter or olive oil. Eat. Best when eaten warm.
So, I was quite pleased with the results above. I could have stopped there, except we were out of sandwich bread. So during the rosemary rising, I mixed up some sandwich bread. The two buddies got baked together and all was good with the world – until slicing.

I really should learn some knife skills and/or buy a bread slicer.

We only have Hello Kitty bandaids in the house. At least my finger is pretty, says the 6-year-old, who was jealous that I had a cut worthy of a bandaid. We are stingy about bandaids here.


And you thought my evening was over. A look in my cabinet and freezer told me that we were running low on baby food. The shelf stable jarred stuff gives me the heebie jeebies. I worry about preservatives. I am not even talking about the baby food meat products. I won’t even go there. The jarred pureed fruits and veggies leave me queasy and I don’t even have to eat them.
Baby food is super easy to make. Anything can be pureed. Only combine flavors that you would eat yourself. Don’t just throw your leftovers in a bowl and have a go. On the evening’s schedule was butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Throw the goods into your oven at 350 and baked until soft. Peel the skin off the root veggies. Dump into a bowl and puree with a hand blender, cuisinart, and/or blender. You can add a bit of water if needed to reach the right consistency. I was happy with the outcome. The food freezes well and is quite portable.
Thank you for sharing the evening adventures with me!

Country White Bread

My 6-year-old daughter will only consider sandwiches as her main dish in her school lunches. The options she allows are a choice of peanut butter, cream cheese, egg salad, or chummus sandwiches. The sandwich must be on a softer variety of a whitish bread. We ran out of sandwich bread on Thursday. When I went to the store to do my pre-shabbat shopping, they were all out of any acceptable sandwich bread. I was a bit stuck in the nice-mom lunch category. So I decided I would give a shot at sandwich bread making.

I just landed a new Bosch Mixer – twice the capacity of my trusty kitchenaid. So, despite my lack of baking history, I was gifted with some baking confidence that came in the form of a 700 watt mixer. Did I mention my love for kitchen appliances? So I went about my search for a sandwich bread with ingredients on hand.

I came up with this Country White Bread. It looked easy enough. It was pareve. I had all the ingredients..and it promised two nice size loaves.

I have to admit. I was impressed with the Bosch. It took 5 minutes to do all the mixing and kneading for this recipe.

The loaves came out beautifully. I sliced up the loaves and put them in the freezer. The princess was pleased.


1 2