BBA Challenge: Brioche!

I had a lovely and productive weekend at home... the weather was nice so i opened all the windows and doors and had a serious spring clean and garden preparation.  Part of the weekend included some time making the "Middle Class Brioche".  Brioche is a soft, slightly sweet bread heavily enriched with butter and eggs.  There are varying degrees of the flour to butter ratio, so I decided to go with the 'Middle Class' version, which has two sticks of butter in the dough (about a 2:1 ratio flour to butter), along with five eggs.

This recipe only took one day to make and was surprisingly easy.  I opted for the loaf-shape for my first try and ended up with three small loaves but would like  to experiment with other shapes next time.  The resulting bread was soft, light, and buttery.  Very flavorful with a pleasant yellow-ish color from the eggs.

I was delighted to finally try making it and to discover that it was not that difficult, so it will probably be showing up in other places in the future.  I saw a recipe for brie wrapped in brioche with a fruit chutney somewhere...  Oh, yeah.  That's what I'm talking about.  Bring it on!

And about two weeks straight at the gym afterwards.


Sun Stars

I have a confession to make:  I'm an absolute sucker for sun stars.  I was able to go out into the field with the guys from work to take photos of the fancy-schmancy test they were doing with our UAV (whoo hoo!) and got this shot.  I'm thinking of entering it for the DGrin DSS #44 Challenge - Silhouettes... find the challenges here.


At long last...

I have finally posted the last of Erin's wedding shots.  The last bunch I worked on was the "preparation" set, so I thought I'd post a few of those.  Enjoy!

The salon owner brought his chihuahua/dachshund mix in for a visit:

See the whole set from the wedding here.  


BBA Challenge: Artos - Greek Celebration Bread

I was ready for this bread to be an epic fail, but it at least looks alright so far.  I was unable to decorate the dough with the cross-shape; the dough I had reserved for that simply wouldn't cooperate, so I made it into two small boules and threw them into the oven.  I tried a bite of one and it seems to be lacking something.  I'll have to read through the recipe again to make sure I didn't miss anything.  I think I will be adding the glaze to the loaf, as the mini-loaves seem to suggest that it could use all the help it can get!

The recipe called for spices, raisins, nuts, lemon or orange zest (I used orange) and honey for this particular loaf (Christopsomos), which should give it a unique flavor.  It was a poolish recipe, so I used "baker's math" to up the formula for poolish so that I'd have enough for this dough as well as the next poolish recipe in the book - Ciabatta.  Right now that's chilling in a pre-proofing state and hopefully I can get that baked tomorrow.

On top of working with these two breads, I also managed to make palak paneer (with from-scratch paneer) for dinner, dirty up and then wash at least three sinkloads of dishes, and cleaned up a bit around the house.  No wonder I'm exhausted. 

Would love to hear about others' experiences with this bread!

ETA: Salt.  I think there was an issue with the salt.  Maybe next time I should try two batches - one by the book and one with a little extra salt and honey.  I'm not sure at this point whether I used the recommended amount or not... maybe i missed it all together?


Intro and BBA Challenge #1 - Anadama Bread

Greetings and welcome! Hopefully this blog will be an exploration of food and photography... and maybe a little bit about life too. We'll see ;)

I've just received a copy of the Bread Baker's Apprentice by the bread guru Peter Reinhart, so I thought I'd join the BBA Challenge and work through the book systematically and post my progress. It's a very thorough book with about 100 pages of instruction in the beginning (which I love - I really enjoy those cookbooks that are half textbook, half recipes) and beautiful photographs throughout. Check out pinchmysalt.com for the rundown of how the challenge works. It happens to be one of my favorite blogs as well!

First bread in the book: Anadama Bread

It's cooling as I'm writing this and I'm doing my best to not break into it too early. I am on day three of this process, so I suppose waiting a few more minutes isn't too terrible...

This bread is made with a cornmeal soaker, which I started two days ago. You whip it up and let it sit overnight to release the goodness in the cornmeal. Then the next day I assembled the rest of the dough, which included molasses along with the standard bread ingredients. I used about half whole wheat bread flour and half unbleached all-purpose white flour... I now realize that I probably should've used the whole wheat flour for the sponge instead of using the white flour at that stage, but I don't think it's a major crisis.  I never achieved the 'windowpane effect' with this dough, so I was a little concerned, but fortunately the bread turned out just fine.

After shaping the loaves last night, I placed them in the refrigerator to bake today. I had to let them proof for about four hours before putting them in the oven (since they came from the cold fridge, they had to be warmed back up to room temperature and then proof, hence the four hours as opposed to one or so). The smell of bread in the house was just lovely, and now that I've pulled them out to cool, they look great. I'm counting down to the moment I can try some :)

One thing about the book that doesn't jive with me is the fact that Reinhart discusses using plastic wrap or other coverings in the detailed pages in the first section of the book, but in the recipes only mentions using plastic wrap. I would classify myself as a "plastiphobe" when it comes to things in my kitchen or things I'm going to eat or drink in general, so the last thing I wanted to do was put plastic onto the dough. Instead, I have some heavy cotton dinner napkins that I bought specially for bread baking and placed a wetted napkin over the dough. When I had to refrigerate the dough overnight, I also covered it with foil to make sure that the cloth (and therefore dough) stayed moist. It seemed to work out just fine, so that's what I'll go with in the future.

WHOA! I just tried the first slice and I can't believe this came out of my kitchen! It's light and fluffy with a little grit from the cornmeal on the crust adding a nice texture, a bit of flavor from the molasses, a pretty light brown color, and somehow a little buttery. I might add a pinch more salt next time, but this is just great! I'm not so sure I want to share....