When I signed on with Nicole to do the Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought, I’ll bake some ciabatta, I’ll do a little Twittering and maybe make a bloggy bread baker friend or two.
Fast forward to five – is it really only five??? – weeks later and you might find me where I was on Tuesday night: up to my elbows in bread flour with stray remnants of coarse cornmeal underfoot.
If I had known how much proofing, rising and fermenting would be ahead of me when I joined the challenge I might have second guessed my decision.
For those who are new here, I am baking my way through Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice of with about 200 other bloggers around the globe.
We started with Anadama Bread and though we aren’t posting each recipe, we’re baking each bread in the book, in order.
I’ve been baking roughly once per week, which might not sound like a lot until you factor in a few other things.
Like, OH I DON’T KNOW, a full-time job, a forty-minute commute, SLEEP, this blog, a social life….you know, all expendable.
The first thing I’ve learned about baking bread is that it’s a delicate process.
The mixing, kneading and shaping are all painstakingly worth the hours each step might take to complete.
Many of the breads in Reinhart’s book take more than a day from start to finish and when you’re away from home for twelve hours on the average day, well, that makes it tricky to time each step perfectly.
This past week, we baked a specialty Italian bread called Casatiello that was, if nothing else, a pleasant change from the previous four breads.
With no overnight step, you can bake this in a day and have a wonderful, rich bread to serve with dinner. Casatiello is often referred to as Italian Brioche, a rich dough made with eggs and milk, peppered with cured meat and sharp cheese.
The recipe calls for salami or crisp bacon but I had neither on hand so I made do with roasted red peppers and a block of sharp provolone.
The “vegetarian” version of this bread might not have tasted quite the same as the prescribed recipe, but it was moist and flavorful – everything a bread should be.
This bread was fairly simple to complete – fast rising and had a great consistency.
With some of the breads I’ve baked, I’ve found myself spending more time than I care to admit peering into the bowl of my Kitchen Aid and manipulating the dough into a ball on the dough hook.
I’m thinking that by the time I get to Cinnamon Sticky Buns, I’ll forget about all of these hard times.
Tell me about a kitchen challenge you’ve faced lately. Is it bread baking? Grilling? What is something you didn’t think you could master but now execute with elegance?