Today I have put together a photographic run-down of the bread adventures I have been on in the past few weeks.  All of these were made from recipes take from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  BBA has replaced The Bread Bible as my top breadmaking reference.  I’m planning to do a full side-by-side review of the two books but in the meantime I think it suffices to say that I prefer BBA because it has more consistently guided me to good results.

Baguettes

Baguettes

These baguettes were absolutely amazing. Light but chewy; flavourful but a perfect complement to cheese or butter; and unlike the last time I made baguettes, nearly five years ago, I avoided giving myself a painful burn by touching the blazing-hot oven wall.

Sourdough Starter / Barm

Sourdough Starter / Barm

The sourdough barm / starter (I haven’t really figured out the difference yet) from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I will definitely be writing more about the particularities of sourdough baking because it is a topic that fascinates, challenges, and sometimes frustrates me. For instance the detailed schedules that lead up to a loaf of sourdough (move the barm from the fridge one day before mixing the starter eighteen hours before mixing the dough, etc.) seem on one hand to be the product of “well, we don’t totally know what is going on here and these precise steps worked for me so if you choose to wander at all from my path you’re on your own” and on the other to be a sensible consideration for the mystery of how water, flour, a little salt and some very wild yeasts mixed together can produce a great loaf of bread.

Poilane-style Miche

Poilane-style Miche

This recipe is, apparently, based on the famous Parisian bread that is in such great demand that it is flown around the world on a daily basis. Mine tasted good enough but was way too dense and heavy.  I blame this failure on an injury to my kneading arm that week (seriously) and also on the fact that I believe I forgot to put a steam pan in with the dough.

Auvergnat with a tilted hat

Auvergnat with a tilted hat

The pain de campagne from BBA.  For no particular reason I chose to use the auvergnat style of loaf.  The darker brown part that is tilted to the right in the picture is just a small ball of dough that is rolled flat and placed on top of the main ball of dough while it proofs.  The recipe directs you to press in the centre of the “hat” to form a connection with the main ball.  I suspect that I inadvertantly created a firmer connection on one side and that caused this weirdly-shaped oven rise.  Still tasted great but if I was going to do this again  I would attach the hat after the final proof just before the bread goes in the oven.

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