Wow I am really not getting any better at the Fresh from the Oven challenge, am I? I wake up on reveal day (at noon, guess I am still getting over the jetlag) having had the intention of getting up and having the bread in the oven by that time.
Everything had been going so well this month, I had been posting regularly with some seasonal recipes. I got my Daring Cooks post up on time, made mincemeat and all manner of other interesting recipes that I have yet to share with you all.
However November has suddenly vanished from underneath me. I missed the Daring Bakers deadline yesterday, and have no time (nor any real wish) to make the Cannoli next week. I am off work for three days next week and have barely planned anything to do. More importantly however at the start of November I signed up for the Fresh from the oven Challenge, posts are meant to go up today. Have I started? Barely. My plan is to update this post during the day as I finish off my challenge bread.
Update: I have now finished my loaf, but you can read my updated commentary below.
I made this bread last weekend when I was feeling a little bit under the weather, which is my excuse for why the few pictures I took are so bad.
This is my first attempt at a braided loaf, and I found the instructions on braiding hard to follow. I spent 5 minutes reading the instructions, trying, and unweaving the strands, before it dawned on me – I already KNOW how to braid. All that time playing with Barbie’s hair wasn’t for nothing!
The bread is quite impressive, both in shape and size, so this would be a good loaf to give as a present or to take to a barbecue. The weather here isn’t exactly barbecue weather, so we had to eat it between us. This was a shame as there was way too much for two people to eat before it went past its best.
As for the actual loaf, it has no butter in it but to me had more of the texture I associate with brioche. I loved this bread and I am sure I will make it again.
I’ve got a little behind on posting my BBA challenges, so here goes two at once.
Making bagels is a two day long process, and I was so determined to make them for breakfast that I got up a full hour earlier than usual, on a week day!
First you add water, flour and yeast to make a sponge and leave it for a couple of hours. This is all the water you will add to your bagels, so make sure you get it right. (As I didn’t and this made for some very flat bagels).
Add more flour and yeast to your sponge and mix, to form a solid dough. That should not be tacky. When you read this several times and pretend your dough isn’t tacky, when really it’s worse than that – it’s sticky. Give up. Don’t waste the other ingredients and your time, cause they are just not going to work.
I did try adding more and more flour during the kneading stage, but in the end I gave up and continued. Make rolls from your not tacky dough.
After some proofing time, shape each roll into a long snake and make bagels!
Proof the bagels again and when they float in water (normally after at least 20 minutes) then they are ready for the fridge.
It’s the next morning where the main problems appear with sticky dough. In that mine had soldered themselves to the baking sheet, and to get them off they stretched out, becoming huge and flat.
They tasted just fine. I think however I am going to try making these again, I love bagels and I would love to be able to make fresh batches whenever I want. (The bagels you buy in the UK are pretty rubbish, nothing like their amazing fresh American counterparts).
Poor Man’s Brioche
So there are three varieties of brioche in BBA Rich Man’s, Middle Class and Poor Man’s, the classification is based off the amount of butter that is involved. I guess back in the day in France only the super-rich could afford 16oz of butter for two loaves of brioche!
16oz! It made me sick to even think of creating this bread, I had read a number of accounts saying this bread was so rich that it wasn’t particularly pleasant. So I decided to give Rich Man’s a miss.
So then I was left with the decision of Middle Class (8 oz) or Poor Man’s (4 oz). As my other half isn’t such a fan of buttery things I decided to go for the one most appealing to him, the Poor Man’s. Plus the dough is easier to handle the less butter it contains so I was more likely to make a good loaf.
In the end The Other Half had none of the bread, but I did take a loaf down to my parents, who do like buttery tasting things – like a proper brioche. Proper brioche in my mind is a sweet bread, but Poor Man’s is more of a sandwich loaf, therefore it needed a lot of jam to balance the fairly savoury taste.
If I was going to make Poor Man’s again I would add more than the 2 tablespoons of sugar, to create more of a sweet taste. Admittedly all the brioche in the book have largely the same amount of sugar in them – so I wouldn’t say that Middle Class would necessarily be better for this.
On the plus side, the brioche loaves were the first that truly had the correct texture and density, and they looked just like the real thing. At first my mum thought I had bought a bread maker, which of course I haven’t – I made it all by hand!
So pleased overall with this loaf, as I got to show off my new cooking skills to my parents, who I think were suitably impressed!
Up next Challah bread, which is a braided Sabbath bread. (I am skipping Casatiello for now because of the amount butter and cheese in it are The Other Half’s two least favourite things).
I’ll tell you a secret, until this very night I have never tasted the somewhat strange combination of stale bread and summer fruits that makes up one of Britain’s most loved desserts.
Over the past few months the need to finally try this dessert has come over me slowly. It started with the Great British Menu, a TV show that highlights modern twists on some of our favourite british foods. With James Sommerin’s Summer Pudding Trifle and to a lesser extent Nigel Haworth’s Summer Fruit Pudding.
Now that the summer fruits are finally available, and the weather (albeit briefly and in amongst thunder storms) is getting better, the need has become stronger.
I am going to let you in on a secret, I love fruit breads! I don’t buy them often but when I do I skip my normal breafast and eat the toasted bread with the tiniest sliver of butter, my idea of heaven. So when I started flipping through my copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread I was overjoyed to see so many wonderful recipes that I could try at home.
So you baked your first loaves in the BBA challenge. You have two fresh loaves of beautiful bread that are wafting wonderful smells through your home, and you just want to try it. Right now. Well go on. The problem comes once you’ve had that first warm slice – what do you do with the rest of it?
A lot of people seem to make it and give one loaf to a neighbour. I wouldn’t know a neighbour of mine if I passed them on the street. Now maybe that’s a bit sad, I am sure I’d like to get to know my neighbours – but knocking on their door one night with a loaf of bread in hand may put me firmly into the crazy neighbour spectrum.
Some weeks ago I bought the Bread Bakers Apprentice, as I had heard so much about the Bread Baker’s Challenge. The aim of the challenge is to cook our way through all the breads listed in the book in order!
The first recipe in the book (after several chapters on the theory of bread making) is Anadama Bread.