Tag Archives: Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Pane Italiano

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I am on a bread roll (wink wink…nudge nudge…ok I’ve fulfilled my bad pun quota for today) What I mean is, as soon as I wake up, I start thinking about what loaf I want to make, what recipe challenge I will conquer today…but then I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that there are still 2 huge loaves of bread from yesterday, that we still have to eat, before I can make more. ITS TORTURE! It’s not even that I don’t want to eat the bread, because I do, and I am, but I am only one woman and there is, unfortunately, a limit to the amount of bread I can stuff in my face on a daily basis. That physiological limit is truly limiting my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations, of baking bread everyday!

Or maybe I’m being dramatic, that happens every once and a while.

I shall persevere, but for now here are some photos from my Italian bread experience. It turned out well, and I have been enjoying some delicious lunches of pesto, provolone, and goat cheese toast w/ a side of olive topped cucumbers. Mmmmm.

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This was a relatively straight forward bread recipe. It calls for a biga which is a preferment. For the biga, you basically use the same recipe for the bread but you mix it up a day before and then add it to the main recipe the next day. It adds a more developed flavor, which is always a plus. I kind of want to see what happens if I let the biga sit for two days prior, but I’m a little concerned it will end up tasting too yeasty.

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I wanted to include this image for you because I thought it looked like intestines (teehee) and I’m kinda immature like that. You take the biga and cut it up into ten or so pieces and mix it into the main dough. Mine just happened to look like entrails.

Happy last day of classes all you U of A students! I know I’m excited…OH OH and it’s Cinco de Mayo, happy that too!



Wow, it seems like it’s been forever since I last posted…blame school for that one. Finally, it’s all winding down and I plan to assume the coasting position. While I’ve been less than prompt about posting new recipes, I have been cooking/baking a lot! In the next few days I’ll be posting a few of the things I have made in the past week, starting with focaccia. Enjoy.

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One of my new years resolutions was to bake my way through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I think out of the fifty different formulas, I have made five. Not so bad, but not so good either. In my defense school ends up taking precedence to bread baking. However, I can’t use school as my only excuse for the lack of loaves popping out of my oven. First of all when I made the resolution it was winter break and I had oodles of time on my hands. Now, the weekends come around and it seems like they only last for five minutes so, devoting an entire day to bread kinda gets me un-psyched. Today I will once again resolve to bake my way through this amazing book; I will bake focaccia. Because this came from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice there will be no recipe. But I would be kind of a jerk if I just left you hanging like that! Click here for, what looks like, a great recipe.

Note: this baker uses a pre-ferment called a poolish, the recipe I used, did not. A Pre-ferment, made and proofed prior to the combination of the main ingredients, helps to improve shelf life and develop a wonderful flavor for your bread. It’s usually just water, flour, and yeast.

I had never attempted focaccia, let alone, remember it tasting that great, or being particularly impressed by it. I know now that whatever focaccia I have had in the past was made poorly because this bread tasted incredible. Crispy and flakey on the outside, but soft, almost gooey, on the inside. I probably ate 6 ounces of it once I took it out of the oven.

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My dough came out having a slightly green tint because of the the olive oil I was using.

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The picture on the left is after I had “panned” the dough and poured half of the herb oil on it. After this point it gets popped in the fridge over night. The picture on the right is the dough waiting to be put in the oven.

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Here it is! Fresh out of the oven. I wish everyone could have been there for this moment. It would have prevented me from eating so much of it.

That’s it for now. We went climbing all day and my fingertips almost hurt too much to type. More recipes to come!

Would You Like Some Cinnamon Rolls With That Saturday Morning?

There’s nothing I enjoy more than coming home for the weekend, using my dad’s uber fancy camera to photograph food and sitting on his couch all morning getting over-caffinated while I read food blogs. There is however, one thing thats almost as good. Home-made cinnamon rolls.

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After I ate 1, I pretty much wanted 100 more. They’ve got a hint of lemon zest and it’s really good if you dip a bite in your coffee. The best part for me was that I got to drizzle the fondant glaze over the rolls with my fingers. Why? Because when you’re done you get to lick the glaze off of them and it’s really the only reasonable excuse to eat almost a tablespoon of straight frosting. Oh and we’ll just not talk about all the “taste tests” to see if the frosting had the flavor I wanted.

The reason I made these, other than the obvious was because I just read an article about a study done at Princeton about high fructose corn syrup. Click here to read about it! My dad will, from time to time, eat cinnamon rolls on a weekend morning, but they are usually be the frozen kind. Now I’m not trying to hate on frozen stuff and they do taste really good, but take one look at the ingredients list and its like every preservative known to man + high fructose corn syrup goes into these innocent looking cinnamon rolls. After reading that study and taking into account my father’s love of those classic rolls it was a no brainer that I would make some from scratch for him. Also, more selfishly, it’s helping me tick off another recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which, if I haven’t said already, I’m trying to bake my way through.

These take around 4 hours to make and are completely worth it. I wanted to have them for breakfast so I made them up the night before and popped them in the fridge over night. I took them out about 2 1/2 hours before I wanted to bake them, to let the dough proof, and popped them in the oven!

I won’t be posting the recipe, but click here to find a recipe by The Pioneer Woman that looks like it tastes just as good. Have I mentioned she’s my hero?

If you want the recipe I used…GO BUY A COPY OF THE BOOK, or borrow it from your library, but seriously, go buy it, it’s AWESOME.

  • In a standing mixer, start by beating together the butter, salt and sugar. Then, whip in the egg and lemon zest until smooth.
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  • Depending on the type of yeast you have (I had non-instant yeast) proof it now in a bowl of warm water. So, I tried to proof the yeast in warm buttermilk, but, that didn’t work. I think buttermilk is too acidic and possibly killed the yeast. I started over and proofed it in a bowl with 4 tbsp of warm water and just subtracted 4 tbsp from the total buttermilk volume. If I remember anything about working with dough it’s that you need to keep the hydration ratios the same.
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  • Add the flour, buttermilk and yeast.
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  • Don’t mind the beer that snuck itself in there…..mmmmmm 90 Shilling.
  • Turn your mixer on medium speed and let it go until the dough starts to form a ball. I’m including a picture because mine never turns into a “ball”. This is what I think they mean.
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  • Basically mix until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough could be formed into a ball. Remove the paddle attachment and replace it with the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 10-12 minutes. If you’re kneading by hand go for at least 15. The dough should pass the windowpane test.
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  • Oil a large mixing bowl. Place the kneaded dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Ideally, you want to let the dough rise in a warm place, but my kitchen is always too cold. My trick? Just turn the oven on for about 5 minutes then turn it off. Then I put the bowl in there and close the door and let it rise, in this case for two hours. Maybe that’s cheating or maybe that’s crafty and maybe sometimes I forget to turn off the oven…but maybe just maybe all my bread disasters and successes even out in the end.
  • This is what my dough looked like after it rose.
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  • Lightly sprinkle your work surface with flour and plop the dough on down. Next, break out your rolling pin, which as a poor college student was a first for me, seeing as I have been using wine/beer/vodka bottles, in that utensil’s abscense. (Using a bottle is a common phenomenon, look! This post from Bread & Honey: a food blog ) so there. Anyways, break out your rolling utensil, whatever it may be, and roll the dough into a square. It is supposed to be 2/3 inch thick but off the top of my head I don’t know what that looks like so mine looked like this.
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  • While you were waiting for the dough to rise you would have mixed together sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Take that filling and sprinkle it all over the dough’s surface. Using a tip from The Pioneer Woman, I melted some butter and lightly coated the dough. This way the cinnamon sugar has something to stick to.
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  • Then start at one end of the dough and roll it all the way up.
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  • Using a sharp knife, slice pieces off of the tube. How many rolls you end up with depends on how thick you like them. I think I ended up with 10 rolls.
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  • After re-reading the instructions I realized I had placed them too close together so I readjusted them to fill the whole pan. It worked out that they were each about 1/2 inch from each other. At this point I covered them with plastic wrap and threw them in the fridge over night, but this is the time where you would normally bake them. The next day I removed them from the fridge about 2 hours before I planned on baking them. I cheated again and used the oven trick to warm them up more quickly than the instructions suggested. Who can wait THREE WHOLE HOURS for them to warm up, not me. This is what they looked like when they were all proofed and ready to go into the oven. It was almost like the picture!
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  • About half hour before the rolls were done proofing I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees and positioned the rack in the middle of the oven. The rolls baked for 22 minutes and came out looking like this.
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  • The directions said to wait something like twenty minutes for them to cool before icing them. Psh. I think I waited as long as it took me to whip up the icing, which was all of five minutes. Who knew powdered sugar+milk+vanilla could be so amazing? Click here for an icing recipe similar to the one I used. One substitution to that recipe would be to add 3/4 of a teaspoon of vanilla/organge/lemon extract. At this point I dipped my fingers into the icing and began splatter painting the cinnamon rolls. Here’s the end result.
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  • It looks like the magical sugar-icing-spider came along and graced the household with a delicious web of fondant glaze.

    You’re supposed to wait like another twenty minutes to serve them, after you glaze them but…bet you can’t tell where this is going…I pretty much served them as soon as I was done icing them. And you know what? They were great. Serve them with a hot cup of (decaf at this point) coffee and you’re off to sugar-coma wonderland.