{bba} light wheat bread

This week I was in the mood for sandwiches for my workday lunches. As it was, the next bread up for me in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge was Light Wheat Bread–perfect for sandwiches.

When I first joined the BBA Challenge, I stayed on the weekly baking schedule. Then things happened and I joined the Slow & Steady Group.  Then I got busy and I think I’m now so  beyond the S&S time line that I’m baking a bread when the opportunity and time arises.

{bba} italian bread torpedo rolls

Life got a little too busy or too complicated or maybe I just got a little too lazy. For whatever the reason, I decided to join the Slow & Steady group of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.When I joined the group, I already baked the breads they were baking and blogging. I had a good chunk of time before the bread I needed to make next–Italian Bread.

Ha ha! I sat on my duff too long. The Italian Bread was due the first week in December! I didn’t realize this until this week. But luckily, the some of other Slow & Steady Bakers got thrown off track because of the holidays and Nancy of The Corner Loaf (our fearless leader) is revising the schedule with the Italian Bread due in two weeks. So it seems I’m ahead again 😛 .

Shaped and ready for proofing

I made the bread for my supposed-to-be vegetarian Christmas Eve dinner and shaped them into torpedo rolls. The rolls rose and baked beautifully.

Fresh out of oven

My family loved the bread. My Mother couldn’t stop talking about it. My Mom is big on bread. She always used to say to me, “The key to a great dinner party is good wine, good bread, and good conversation”. All the other stuff is incidental.

Dinner Party!

I hosted my first dinner party last week. It was small, just me and three guests. I worried about the menu because one of the guests is a picky eater. I only cook vegetarian and he doesn’t like/won’t eat vegetables. I also wanted to make something that would go with French Bread so I could get the next bread on my list from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge done–nixing pizza or cheese enchiladas (as suggested by picky eater).

The Menu:

Edamame

Rosemary Roasted Almonds (From September 2009 issue of Cooking Light)

Olives (From Whole Foods olive bar)

French Bread (From The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, made into 2 oz rolls)

Toasted Goat Cheese Ravioli with Red Pepper Dip (from September/October 2009 issue of Clean Eating magazine)

Creamy Rigatoni with Gruyère and Brie (from September 2009 issue of Cooking Light)

Slow-roasted Tomatoes with Sea Salt and Ground Coriander (from Orangette)

Dessert was the Chocolate Caramel Crunch Tart for next week’s Tuesdays with Dorie…more on that on Tuesday. As for wine, I threw myself on the mercy of the wine guy at the 3rd/Fairfax Whole Foods in Los Angeles. He asked me questions on my menu and walked me around the entire wine section. For a starter wine, he suggested the 2008 Marquis de Goulaine Rosé d’Anjou.  For dinner he suggested the 2007 Protos Verdejo, a Spanish white wine. The wine choices were excellent and reasonably priced. I’m definitely going back to him.

The dinner was a big success and loved every minute of it. I prepped most of the day, but was relaxed and carefree for the party. The guests enjoyed everything and we’re all looking forward to doing it again.

Honey-Wheat English Muffins

I’ve baked the English Muffins from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice before and they were delicious as written.  I made them again for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, but this time decided to make a honey-wheat variety. I used 1/2 traditional whole-wheat flour and added 1 tablespoon of honey instead of the sugar. I made them 2 ounces each  and was able to yield 8 instead of 6 muffins. They turned out great–light and fluffy and pretty tasty.

Or at least I thought so, until I tasted THE BEST BREAD EVER. I went to Bouchon for dinner while in Las Vegas. I can only dream of baking bread this good. The crust was unbelievable, it was just the right crunch, just sweet enough, and the inside was light and fluffy. It all just melted in my mouth. I bonded with the person that refilled our water over the bread. I was giddy and excited and he told me the bread was his favorite too. I can’t wait for Bouchon to open in Beverly Hills. (By the way, the rest of the meal was amazing–but this is about the bread!)

THE BEST BREAD EVER

THE BEST BREAD EVER

Peach and Pecan Celebration Bread

In the introduction to the Cranberry & Walnut Celebration Bread in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart discusses how the bread is reminiscent and in celebration of Thanksgiving.  Because it is August and I just baked a bread with cranberries and walnuts, I decided to use diced dried peaches and pecans. It’s a little more seasonal. I’m celebrating the peak of summer, my favorite season.

Peter Reinhart also suggests shaping the bread using an elaborate double-braid method where there is one giant braid and a smaller braid balanced on top of it. Balancing things isn’t my strong suit, so I shaped my bread into a simple boule.

The bread was okay. I thought the fruit-to-nut ratio was off. I would increase the nuts and decrease the fruits. I felt it also needed more flavors. Maybe cinnamon? or cardamon? or Chinese 5-spice?

If you would like more information about The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, please visit HERE.