Photo courtesy of  PJG, thanks!

With this bread, I completed the BBA CHALLENGE!

For a PDF version, click here (breads are ranked from one to five stars)

A big thank you to Nicole for setting up this event, and of course to Peter Reinhart for his wonderful book.  I’ve had it many years, but never imagined that one day I’d say that “…I baked them all!”


This last bread took 3 days to prepare.  The sourdough sponge, made on the first day, was mixed and shaped on the second day, and  after a night in the fridge it was topped with roasted onions and grated asiago cheese, then finally baked.   I made a half  recipe, which was still  enough for one  big round loaf.

The onions can be prepared the day before…

and added to the bread 30 minutes before baking ….

The dough contains a lot of grated asiago cheese,  so each bite acquires its sharp flavor, mellowed  by the sweet roasted onions.   What a beautiful combination!

You can check the Roasted Onion Asiago bread made by Oggi (the first baker to complete BBA Challenge) by clicking here….

Our five favorite breads from the challenge were:
Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo
Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche
Vienna Bread
New York Deli Rye
Potato Rosemary Bread

To all my virtual fellow challengers baking along this tasty path, have fun with it.   I’ll be watching and cheering for you!  😉


With my heart beating fast in anticipation, I am thrilled to say:   forty-two breads down,  ONE to go!

This bread is definitely one of my favorites, for several reasons. First,  it uses a sourdough starter, which already makes me pretty excited about it.  Second, it contains potatoes, a great addition to this kind of bread,  as they give it moisture and a texture hard to reproduce in any other way.    Third, it takes cheese rolled in the middle of the loaf.  No need to explain the positive aspects of this.  Too obvious for words.   Did the recipe rise to my expectations?

Oh, YESSSS!  😉

This was not a difficult bread to make.  Because the dough takes a mixture of sourdough starter and commercial yeast, it rises quite fast: the whole process – from mixing the dough to baking – took just a little over 3 hours!   I used the full amount of potato water called for, hoping for a more open crumb.   Instead of kneading, I folded the dough twice, at 20 and 40 minutes, then allowed it to rise undisturbed for another hour.

Here are a couple of shots from the loaf right after shaping, and before going into the oven.

I am sure I’ll be making this bread again and again.  At first, my husband said he would prefer it without chives, but after a few bites,  he agreed that they add a special flavor, quite unique.  This is an impressive loaf, that would be perfect with an Italian-inspired meal.

Please visit these links to see my fellow friends who already baked #42:

For Oggi’s blog, click here.

For Paul’s blog, click here.

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event, Special Holiday Edition.


With only two breads remaining at the end of the BBA Challenge, I was hoping for something wonderful to say about Reinhart’s version of whole wheat bread.   But unfortunately, this bread fought hard for last place with the now infamous 100% sourdough rye.

I wasn’t the only participant to have problems with this recipe; you can jump to Oggi’s blog for her comments about it.  At some point I’d like to improve at breads with low to no white flour, because they consistently provided lessons on humility.   So, without further ado, here are the proofs of my crime, with apologies to Mr. Reinhart.

The dough was sticky, grainy and generally unpleasant to work with. The crumb was tight, as expected for this variety, but the taste was just plain bland.   Even my husband, who eats all my failures with a smile (while saying that I’m too hard on myself…violins playing, please) told me “if a bread isn’t even good with butter and this awesome fig jam, then something’s seriously wrong with it”.

I will be making croutons… (sigh)

Life goes on, so does the challenge. I’m anticipating the final two breads, which look like masterpieces… Stay tuned!


The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge brings us to White Bread, offered in three variations – I picked number 2, just because I like even numbers (they are never lonely…)

It is a very simple dough to prepare: buttermilk, flour, yeast, oil, one egg. I halved the recipe (our freezer is already overflowing with bread), and folded the dough instead of kneading it. You can shape the bread in many ways, take a look at the gorgeous dinner rolls made by Oggi (click here . )   I opted to make hamburger-style buns, brushing them with egg wash and sprinkling sesame seeds on top.

They turned out pretty nice, and tasted delicious!

Coming up next:  Whole Wheat…   I am looking forward to making it and comparing with my favorite sandwich bread, Light Whole Wheat, number 18.    Stay tuned…


Thirty-nine breads down, FOUR to go!   Seems like a dream, but we are getting to the end of the BBA Challenge

After last week’s bread, which fail to please the baker, I was eager to make this one, and the ice storm that hit us was the perfect excuse to indulge in bread baking.   Peter Reinhart’s  recipe requires a pate fermentee, made the day before.  The dough is reasonably rich with butter, egg, and sugar.   Wonderful to work with!   I mixed everything together, allowed it to sit undisturbed for 20 minutes, then folded the dough a few times.  One more cycle of folds after 60 minutes, another hour of rise, and the final shaping.  Nice and easy.   The shaped loaf was sprinkled with flour and slashed right before baking (click on the image to enlarge it).

The bread had amazing oven spring, as you can see by the
enlargement of the slashed region…

It feels very light for its size, the crumb is delicate, and so is the crust…

This was one of our favorites, and quite simple to make, no need for sourdough starters to enjoy a nice loaf of Vienna bread.

Only one small problem –  bread should be allowed to sit for at least one hour before cutting.  I could not obey this rule.  After cooling for 15 minutes, my husband asked how long until he could have a slice.  “About two hours” was my answer.   His?

“You’ve got to be kidding me.  Pass me the knife, will you”?      😉


Before starting the BBA Challenge I browsed the book to see what  I was getting into. Two breads seemed most intimidating: Poilane, for obvious reasons, and Tuscan, for less obvious, but still relevant reasons.   Tuscan bread is a traditional Italian loaf made without salt. Yes, that’s it, no salt whatsoever.  The idea is downright scary.  If you ever baked a bread and forgot to add the salt, then you know what I’m talking about.

As far as its looks are concerned, the Tuscan loaf did not disappoint.

The recipe required a flour paste (flour plus boiling water) that sat overnight at room temperature, and looked like this…

The flour paste was used as part of the dough on the next day, together with bread flour, olive oil, and instant yeast. The dough more than doubled in size after 2 hours at room temperature…

The crumb was tighter than I expected for a dough that rose  so well, and felt airy to the touch…

Now, for the taste….

I don’t know how to soften it, so here’s my verdict: this bread was tasteless.  I tried it with olive oil + salt, with butter + salt, and with jam, and I didn’t enjoy it either way.  On the other hand, my husband, who’s not a salt addict, actually liked the bread quite a bit in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  His comment was that the strong flavor of the peanut butter was good with the sweetness of the bread.

Maybe in Italy the flour is different, or maybe if you grow up eating this bread you learn to love it, but the lesson I took from this recipe was “the fact that you can make a bread without salt, doesn’t mean you should” 😉

You can read about Phyl’s take on Tuscan bread by clicking here

and for a very informative post on saltless bread, please visit Susan’s website by clicking here

Next…. Vienna bread….  I look forward to this one!  Stay tuned…


Following the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, we arrive at yet another sourdough rye, Swedish Limpa.   The recipe required a special kind of “sponge” : a sourdough starter with molasses, spices (caraway and fennel seeds) and orange peel, that smelled terrific!

Apart from the fact that I dislike the “feel” of rye dough, I had no problems with the recipe.  Here’s what the sponge looked like 60 minutes after mixing it….

The dough seemed dense and heavy; after forming the loaf it must rise for 90 minutes. Mine didn’t rise that much, but by now I’m used to the finicky personality of rye…

This bread smelled wonderful during baking, and the resulting crumb was tight and dense, but not too heavy.

Verdict: it was a delicious bread, and impossible to eat only a single slice.  Maybe it was the spices in the background, or the mix of molasses and rye that produced kind of a hippie-aura, but both me and my husband felt closer to Nirvana with each bite.

Please visit Phyl’s site to check her Swedish Limpa, and then make sure to read about her adventures with Stollen… and I thought our dogs were naughty….    😉