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Jul 19, 2012

BBA Challenge

About a year ago, I came across the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook page and posted a photo of a loaf of bread I made from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. Phyl Devine of Cabbages and King Cakes suggested that I might want to check out the BBA Challenge Facebook page. And so began my obsession.....

In 2009, before I became a bread head (I started in 2010), Nicole of Pinch My Salt created a bread baking blogger group for baking one's way through Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I had already purchased this book and had made a few of the recipes and was pretty much a disciple, so while I'd missed the blogger boat, I joined the Facebook page and started baking and posting photos. Yes, I was tardy to the party, but this group is very welcoming.

I will not be posting the recipes (buy the book!) but I will be posting my photos and comments about the recipes.

I have learned so much. This book is definitely a course in how to bake bread. I can honestly say that I am now an intermediate bread baker. I hope to some day achieve expert level.

And the bread baking community is incredible.

So.... I'll be posting the breads in order, three at a time. If you are interested, buy the book and start baking. Each time I baked a new recipe, I Googled "BBA Challenge" and the name of the bread, and was able to take advantage of the experiences of everyone who'd attempted the recipe.

If you want to jump in, definitely take advantage of this community. Don't get discouraged when I say that I don't like a specific recipe. It's all a matter of taste. Baking your way through this book is like taking a course in bread baking.

These bread recipes are written in alphabetical order, with the exception of the last two. Peter created 41 recipes, and as a bonus, included two more recipes from Tim Decker of Bennett Valley Bread. 

So here are the first three breads:

BBA Challenge #1 Anadama Bread
 Evidently, this is a bread that is native to New England. It contains flour, cornmeal, and molasses. It contains commercial yeast, and takes two days to make.

On the first day, you make a corn meal soaker, and on the second day, you bake the bread.

Results: the bread was fine, but the molasses flavor was a little strong for my taste.

Would I make it again? No.

 Google BBA Challenge #1 to see other bakers' experiences.

BBA Challenge #2 Artos: Greek Celebration Bread

 There are three recipe variations in this category and participants in the challenge could choose one variation. I chose the first one, Greek Celebration Bread. It contains a barm (sourdough starter) or poolish, and is flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, citrus zest, and almond. Bakers also have the option of adding dough embellishments/curlicues to make it authentic. As you can see, I chose to go with a boule.

This bread is good, had amazing oven spring, and makes nice French toast, and I would consider making it again. It was also pretty easy to make.

 Google BBA Challenge #2 to see other bakers' experiences.

BBA Challenge #3 Bagels
 This the first recipe in the book that I would definitely make again. The flavor is incredible. You will need either malt powder or syrup, which you can get from King Arthur Flour. This recipe starts with a sponge of yeast, flour and water. Once it gets foamy, you add the rest of the ingredients and create the dough. One of the coolest parts of this recipe is the "float test." Once you shape the bagel and let them rise for 20 minutes, you see if they will float in water. Once they float, you refrigerate the shaped bagels overnight.

The next day, you first boil the bagels for two minutes, and then bake them. I felt quite accomplished.

 Google BBA Challenge #3 to see other bakers' experiences.

Would you like to comment?

  1. The Anandama bread was one of the recipes that drew me to the book in the first place. I used to make a recipe from Better Homes and really liked it, so I wanted to try PR's version. The first time I made it, I didn't care for the crunch of the coarse cornmeal, so the second time, I soaked the cornmeal to soften it and didn't sprinkle any additional cornmeal on top. It was excellent that way.

    Your bagels look great and have me wanting to make some soon!

  2. Thanks, Phyl. Kind of makes me want to bake these bagels again too! I'm more of a lean bread/cheesy bread kind of person. =)


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