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Cheese and Bread... what could be better? Well, I'll tell you: cheese baked right into the loaves! Here is a bread to blog about. Here is a bread that will make you want to bake often and with the window open to make the neighbors insane with longing. I really had not done the whole cheese in the bread thing before, so this was certainly a new and exciting endeavor on my part. As you know, I am participating in the Bread Baker's Challenge and I can definitely see the end now. This is the next to last recipe in the book: The Breadbaker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart and an absolute keeper! The recipe uses both wild yeast and and a bit of commercial yeast, but I chose to only use the wild yeast soley to keep the integrity of my own rule of using my own sourdough starter as the only leavening agent. If you have the book, you can follow along with me on page 278, or if you still don't, you can try this link here.
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Since this recipe uses mashed potato, I chose to use red potato because I like the taste of these potatoes best. Meanwhile, my wild yeast "Adam" if getting puffy and bubbly. Ripe for the process to begin.

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The ingredients all went in along with  the chives until the dough "windowpaned" and then was allowed to rise to double in size (this took my dough about 5 hours to get there). After the bulk rising, the dough was divided into two and slightly pressed out into a rectangle where the cheddar cheese slices were applied. They were then rolled into batards where the cheese was nicely tucked inside. The second rise only took about 3 hours and then I placed them into the hot  500* oven along with a cup of hot water and steam baking. The finished loaves were supposed to be cooled before eating, but we are not very patient people sometimes. This bread is chewy and onion flavored and the oozing cheese was amazing!
Yeaspotted!

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absolutely delish!
 
 
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We love the taste of whole wheat bread, but because of it's density, I hardly ever make it. This is bread number 41 in the challenge and on page of the Bread Bake's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart. Reinhart tells the story of wheat bread being the reason for his bread beginnings thirty something years ago, and how complex it can be to actually extract wonderful flavors without leaving a "grassy" or bitter aftertaste. I was in fact inspired by Reinhart's journey in discovering ways of improving flavors from whole wheat and so also obtained a copy of his Whole Grains book. Getting back to the subject at hand, in this particular recipe, there is the use of both a soaker and a poolish or biga, in which the longer fermentaion is supposed to balance out the bitter/grassy notes in the whole grain and improve the crumb somehow.
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When I first began to think about this recipe, I decided to try a combination of whole wheat flours to see if there was any difference in flavor. I had a new bag of Trader Joe's white whole wheat, and a fairly new bag of whole wheat durum flour that I thought would make for an interesting mix.

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The actual recipe calls for both a soaker of  whole grains ( I used the two flours and threw in some corn grits for texture), and a biga. The Biga was actually my wild yeast that was increased to make the appropriate amount for this recipe.

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The grains looked full and opened up a great deal after the soak. I combined the rest of the ingredients to make a typical bread dough and let it bulk rise until it doubled in size. The dough was then divided in half to make to loaves and placed inside bread pans.

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The resulting bread was actually a lot heavier and dense than I had hoped for, but the the rustic looking loaves had a wonderful tangy taste and was delicious  with soups and salads. I will try this again but use different wheat grains next time.

Yeastpotted.

 
 
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Moving right along, we are at bread #40 in the Bread Baker's Apprentice book, and I can say that I see the light at the end. (I can also certainly say that i was not incredibly excited about tackling this bread, since most white breads have a very boring flavor profile to me.) I have made plenty of white breads in the past, and so I just knew that this was going to be an ordinary loaf. However, since I am only using my wild yeast starter as the sole leavening agent, I was very curious to see what would happen to the flavor and texture once the longer fermentation process was implemented. I chose to tackle variation 3, since it involved a preferment and I was using my sourdough as my leavening agent. Since I am participating in the BBA Challenge, I cannot post the recipe, but someone has posted the recipe for variation 2 here.
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This bread actually involved a preferment (A pre-ferment and a longer fermentation in the bread-making process have several benefits: there is more time for yeast, enzyme and, if sourdough, bacterial actions on the starch and proteins in the dough, thereby creating greater complexities of flavor), egg yolk, sugar, and butter to enrich the dough.

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After kneading the ingredients together to get a soft dough that window-paned, it was then rolled in an oiled bowl(I used the same mixing bowl) and covered to let double in bulk.

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The dough was divided after fermenting and shaped into a loaf and 4 sandwich buns. I opted to sprinkle the top with poppy seeds.
The verdict? Well, let's just say that this was the BEST white bread we have ever eaten. The sponge or preferment, really gave the bread wonderful flavor, and the fat from the butter and egg yolk softened the crumb which gave a more delicate texture. What a wonderful surprise!
yeastpotted.

 
 
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Here we are at BBA bread number 39 in the challenge and it's Vienna Bread. Developed in Vienna, Austria, Vienna bread is baked by using ovens that  are injected with steam as the bread bakes to add moisture to the crumb of the bread.  As the bread bakes with the moisture, the surrounding crust becomes lightly browned, slightly crisp, and flaky in texture while the crumb remains soft. Vienna bread is typically produced as an oblong loaf of bread, but is also available in other shapes. However, as a longer type of loaf, it is a bread that has been attributed with being the origination of French bread, as bakers in France attempted to adopt the steam method of producing their French baguettes. This bread was definitely not a french style, but an enriched loaf with a really beautiful glaze. I was enthusiastic about the addition of the dutch crumb topping and loved the way the loaves looked when finished. You can follow along on page 261 of the book: The Bread Baker's Apprentice or you can find an adapted recipe here.
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preferment on the left and finished dough on the right
This is another two day bread where the day before baking the bread, a preferment is used for flavor. This was an enriched dough as well, for it contained egg, butter, sugar, and barley malt or powder. (I had the malt, so I used it.) The finished dough came together fairly quickly and I was soon able to get it to windowpane, where it was then put into an oiled bowl to rise until it doubled in bulk.

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After the first rise, the dough was then divided into two and shaped into batards. In the meantime, I made the dutch crumb glaze and brushed it over the scored loaves. The loaves were then left to rise again until doubled in size. They were then baked in the oven with steam to create the wonderful crust that this bread is famous for.

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This technique resulted in a light and airy bread crumb that not only looked beautiful, but tasted wonderful as well. It reminded me a lot of a lower fat challah bread, and toasted up really nicely as a vehicle for Nutella. Yummmmm!

Yeaspotted.

 
 
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Legend has it that, in 1100, in an attempt to force Florence to surrender in one of their endless battles against each other, nearby Pisa blockaded the salt that arrived at her port, preventing it from reaching Florence. Thus, pane toscano (Tuscan bread) was born - the bread famous throughout Italy for being 'sciocco', from the word in the Tuscan dialect for ‘unsalted’. This is just one of the legends, (but my favorite) that tells of the origins of this saltless wonder. While we were in Florence a few years ago, My husband (who is first generation Italian) introduced me to this peculiar bread, and much to my surprise, I loved it! So, I was worried when I got to this bread because so many of the BBA Challengers who went before me really disliked it. Boy was I amazed! Not only did I love this bread, it was ABSOLUTELY my favorite thus far. The crust was deliciously crisp and the crumb was incredibly chewy with a slight sweetness and tang that seemed to permeate and change with every bite. This was a bread experience like I have only dreamed of having from one of my own baked goods, and my husband agreed that this was an exceptional bread.
If you are following along with me, you know that I have been baking my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart using only wild yeast starter as my leaven. This is bread 38 and the recipe is on page 259, but if you still haven't picked up a copy, Susan at WildYeast  has a gread adapted version.
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This is another two day bread, but it uses a fascinating method to 'scald' flour using boiling water to gelatinize the starches and to encourage more enzyme activity. I have never seen this method before but according to Reinhart, it can be applied to many of the lean dough recipes so far. This approach really intrigued me, so I will be experimenting with this new-found  technique in the near future.

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The actual kneading process of the finished dough was a little more difficult than some of the other breads so far. I found the dough to be VERY goopy and lumpy in the beginning stages of mixing, and I noticed that the time it actually took to reach the desired dough consistency and temperature took much longer than I anticipated, and I thought my poor mixer would give out before it did.

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Finally, The dough got to a kind of 'windowpane' stage and I proceeded with the rest of the bulk fermentation. If you have been following along my blog, you will notice that I am trying to use a wild yeast starter exclusively while baking through Reinhart's book, and even though I did not use any salt in this bread, it took forever to double in size(I keep telling myself that patience is a virtue). Even when forming into batards, the second rising seemed to take much longer to rise also. The long fermentation may have had much to do with the final flavor profile of this recipe, for we were rewarded in the end when the bread turned out so delicious.

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The crumb was really outstanding; it had the chewiness of really good sourdough(maybe because of my wild yeast starter, or the water bath in the cold oven, or even the long fermentation) and the flavor was a little tangy, a little sweet, and a little creamy. Whatever the reason for being so incredibly yummy, I am happy that it happened. I can say without a doubt that this bread will be made VERY often in our home.

yeastpotted

 
 
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"Yet another Rye bread," I thought; but this was not your ordinary rye. In fact, I daresay this wasn't even close to the rye flavor that I have been gradually getting used to thus far. Apparently, this bread is also a traditional Christmas bread and usually heavily spiced and flavorful. Reinhart's version is leaded with molasses, orange peel, anise, fennel, and cardamon. When this bread was baking, it perfumed the kitchen with an incredible aroma, and I was drooling the whole time because I loved the smell of all these wonderful spices together. My husband usually hates anything with cardamon, but he loved this bread and promptly devoured it in a matter of a couple of days. If you like baking with exotic spices, this bread is definitely for you! Follow along on page 257 in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and you too can have an incredibly aromatic kitchen. Another one for yeastspotting!
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The day before making the bread, the aromatic sponge was made by cooking the molasses, orange, spices and water to a low boil.

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The mixture was then cooled to lukewarm and into it was added the rye flour and "Adam", my wild yeast starter. It was left to ferment for a few hours until foamy and then refrigerated overnight. Here is the sponge the next day.  .

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The final dough was made using bread flour, brown sugar, shortening, a little more wild yeast, and salt. The dough was kneaded until it registered around 77 degreesF. It was then left to bulk rise until almost doubled in size.

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The dough was then divided into two loaves and I opted to make them in loaf pans.

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delicious with a little butter!
 
 
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I am actually happy that this bread recipe came up after some weeks had already passed from the holidays. I love eating all the celebratory sweets and goodies during the winter festivities, but to be honest, I may not have enjoyed the taste or the smell of this bread quite as much as now. Earlier in the book: The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Peter Reinhart gave us the pannetone recipe which was super (and I am not sure if it's the different alcohol soaked fruit, or the powdered sugar), but, I believe I liked this bread a little better than the former. However, Peter says that this recipe can double as pannetone as well. This is bread #36 in the Bread Baker's Challenge and you can follow along in the book if you have it, or you can find the recipe from a fellow baker here.
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The night before, the sponge is made using warm milk , flour, and I used "Adam", my wild yeast to get things going. Cover and let ferment until foamy bubbly and when tapped on the side, it collapses.

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After putting the sponge aside, soak a combination of dried fruits with alcohol. I used dried papaya, golden raisins, and dried cranberries soaked in Grand Marnier liquor, and orange extract. Cover, and toss after a few hour to make sure the alcohol is distributed evenly and all the fruit has soaked up the lovely juices.

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The next day, mix together the flour, water, sugar, egg, salt, orange and lemon zests, along cinnamon and butter to form a "tacky but not sticky" dough. Cover the dough at this point and let rest for 10 mins or so.

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Next comes the mixing of the fruit into the final dough. because of the wetness of the soaked fruit, I found this step a little harder than I thought. The dough was left to bulk ferment and it took mine about 6 hours to almost double in size.

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I took out the risen dough and then punched it down and divided it into two sections. As for the filling, Reinhart gives you the option of either putting blanched, slivered almonds into the center, or using marzipan. I went for the almonds and both sprinkled it over the top and in the middle before shaping into a crescent shape.

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Fresh from the oven, the bread smelled delicious and was ready for the oil to be bushed on top before so the powdered sugar can stick.

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Sprinkle the powdered sugar wile still hot, and Reinhart's instructions were to "generously" coat the bread with the sugar. This seemed to be an important step because the heat of the loaf seemed to melt away the sugar. So, I added even extra after a minute or so. the book tells you to wait an hour before digging in, but I found that to be difficult as well. I sliced it after 30 minutes.
Yeastspotted.

 
 
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I love sunflower seeds. They are delicious, nutritious, and have a very happy name that makes me smile whenever I eat them. So, when I saw this next bread I was overjoyed to be using them in this recipe. By now, I have already baked and eaten my weight in rye breads, but somehow the sunflower seeds just makes this next one seem less disheartening. This is bread recipe #35 in The Bread Baker's Apprentice book by Peter Reinhart, and according to Mr Reinhart, this recipe is an adaptation of Craig Ponsford's 1995 Coup du Monde team. Mr Reinahrt uses both a soaker, a wild yeast starter, and commercial yeast, but if you ahve been following along while I am doing this Challenge, you will see that I am attempting all of his recipes using only wild yeast. As per the rules of the Challenge, I will not post the recipe, but you can follow along on page 249 in the book, or find a copy here.
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So, my wild yeast:"Adam" is alive and kicking on the left, along with the rye soaker left overnight on the right.

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The next day, the soaker, Adam, and the rest of the final dough ingredients gets to be all cozy together into a tacky but not sticky ball.

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Now here is where the good stuff goes in- the addition of toasted sunflower seeds. The smell of toasted sunflower seeds made me a little crazy when they came out of the oven, because I was eating a kernel here and there while they were cooling off. So, I may have had slightly less seeds in the final bread than the recipe called for.

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After I managed to incorporate all the seeds into the flour, the dough cam together rather nicely. It was left to bulk ferment until almost doubled in size. For me, that actually took about 5 hours.

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After bulk fermenting, the dough was then divided into two and shaped into the "couronne" loaves as you can see. They were then left to rise again until almost doubled in volume and to be put into a screaming hot oven.(500 degreesF along with poring boiling water into a pan) I then lowered the oven temp to 450 degrees F and continued baking until done-- around 25 mins or so.

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The final loaves were beautiful and oh so tasty. I found the sunflower seed taste to be just as "loyal" as Mr Reinhart says, and the slices were perfect as an accompaniment to cheese and wine. Who knew sunflowers and rye would be such a delicious combo. I will definitely be making this one again!
yeastpotted

 
 
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So, here is another rye recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I am one of many people across the online community of bakers who is participating in the BBA Challenge, only I am planning to do all if not most of the bread recipes using wild yeast only. As per the rules of the challenge, I am not posting the recipe but in case you still don't have your copy of the book you can find an adapted version here. This is bread number 34, and If you have been keeping up, I have been really impressed by the rye bread recipes so far. Not being a huge fan of rye breads in the past, I am slowly re-thinking my distaste for rye breads. I always thought of Pumpernickel bread as being dark from the color of the rye itself, but it appears that is not the case at all.
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This is a 2 day bread using a wild yeast starter, and in my case ONLY wild yeast. "Adam", (my wild yeast) was refreshed and bubbled away like a champ.

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The recipe also says to use bread crumbs,preferably rye bread crumbs. I had some leftover rye bread from the previous rye bread and toasted and then ground coarsely for texture as was recommended by Reinhart.

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Here is the final dough kneaded and oiled-- ready for the initial rise. This one was also not over-kneaded so as not to make the rye become "gummy".

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The second rise took forever. I waited for 7 hours before putting the loaf into the oven, and it still didn't have an impressive rise. I don't know if that is the nature of rye flour or not, but so far, none of the rye breads had an impressive spring.

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This loaf was very chewy and dense with a heavy crumb. I now understand why as a kid I always saw pumpernickel breads sliced so thin. Also, Reinhart was absolutely spot on about the addition of day old bread to improve the texture, which seemed give a interesting crunch that was unexpected. The tasty loaf was probably my favorite so far and quite difficult to resist when hot from the oven. yeastspotted.

 
 
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I was actually a little intimidated when I first thought of making this bread. In case you've missed out, I have been baking my way through the cookbook: The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This bread, which is on the cover of his book, mimics the bread Lionel Poilane made famous from his family recipe. We went to Paris and found one of Poilane's bakery in the St Germain district and were completely blown away by his breads. In fact, we were so excited when we smelled the aroma, we had eaten all of the bread and forgotten to take pictures. So, you can imagine the fear and the delight when I saw this recipe in the book and thought about recreating such an iconic delight. What I really loved about this recipe is that Peter goes into the explanation using "clear flour" which is not easy to obtain here in the States, but he says to sift the bran from whole wheat to get a similar product.Follow along on page 242 or you can find the recipe here.
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Since I did not have any clear flour, I took the time to sift whole wheat flour into a bowl. I was actually amazed at how much bran was left behind, and almost felt guilty leaving it out. But, I knew I could save it for another application elsewhere.

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Here is the firm sponge mixed with my starter:"Adam" and left to ferment for a few hours. I then refrigerated it overnight to retard slowly.

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The next day I cut the starter blob into several pieces and waited about an hour to take the chill off. I then mixed the final dough ingredients along with the now room temp starter into a soft, pliable dough.

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The dough should be tacky but not sticky. The dough was then left to rise until it doubled. For me this took about 5 hours or so.

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After the dough had risen I then gently formed the dough into a free form boule to rise againtil it reached 1.5 times it's initial size,

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Here is the risen dough slashed and ready to go into a preheated oven at 500 degrees. I used the spray method to create steam in the oven and reduced the oven temp to 450. After 25 mins, I then rotated the loaf and reduced the temp again to 425 degrees an baked until it was a deep golden brown. (about 30mins longer)

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This bread tasted really wonderful. There was a lovely nutty flavor and yet the wheatiness was less apparent than in other whole wheat breads that I 'd baked. Of course to me, Poilane's bread in Paris was so much better-- but maybe that's because I was in Paris. Yeastspotted