Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge


The Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge (BBA Challenge) is a challenge to bake all of the breads from the book Bread Baker’s Apprentice, alphabetically from Anadama through whole-wheat.

That’s what’s happening here!

#15: Kaiser Buns

Kaiser buns Kaiser buns Kaiser buns

I’ll be honest, despite these being light, airy, tasty bread buns I’m a bit disappointed. I bought a kaiser roll cutter from Amazon specifically so that I could make the characteristic spiral pattern on top of these, and apparently I just didn’t press hard enough for the spiral to stay in (there are the merest hints in the photos). Ah well, another delicious bread!

#14: French Bread

french bread french bread french bread

I’m fairly happy with this one. It tastes like French bread. However, I chose to split the dough into 4 baguettes, with I had done three and made them a bit thicker. Rose just fine in the oven after scoring, I did a much better job with managing the steam this time.

#13: Foccacia

foccacia foccacia foccacia

This is the bread that has gotten me the most compliments so far, and it was SO delicious. Very high hydration dough, more oil than I ever expected to use. 100% delicious. Probably my favorite so far.

#12: English Muffins

English muffins English muffins English muffins

This may now be the best thing I have ever baked. Perfectly soft in the middle with a bit ofstructure put there by the pan cooked top and bottom. Absolutely delicious!

#11: Walnut-Cranberry Celebration Bread

#10: Corn Bread

Corn bread Corn bread Corn bread

Another pleasant surprise here, never been the biggest fan of corn bread, but this came out super moist, super tasty and also is incredibly fast to make. This quick bread being in a book that’s otherwise about yested breads is maybe a bit surprising but, still, I enjoyed making it.

#9: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

Cinnamon bread Cinnamon bread Cinnamon bread

This one was the best surprise of the book so far. I went big with the optional additions of cinnamon sugar (with a swirl inside the bread and cinnamon sugar coating) and this was the most delicious bread I have eaten in a long while. 5/5 would make again.

#8: Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns Cinnamon buns Cinnamon buns

Enjoyed these greatly. For some reason the recipe suggests making the icing drizzle with 4 cups of powdered sugar, which turned out to bee hugely too much, but the buns were absolutely delightful to eat.

#7: Ciabatta

Ciabatta bread Ciabatta bread Ciabatta bread

Finally a bake that feels a bit familiar to me, ciabatta is a wet dough with stretch-and-folds, much like the sourdough I learned from the Tartine book.

Overall, everything seemed to go to plan, and the ciabatta that dropped out look nice, golden and rustic. A little disappointing that I didn’t get the airy, bubble-filled crumb I was after (maybe because I wasn’t doing a great job of steaming up the oven, maybe I handled them too violently), but it’s a great tasting bread.

#6: Challah

Challah bread Challah bread Challah bread

I was a bit intimidated starting this one. Challah bread is not something I have ever eaten, and I assumed the braiding would be tough to get right. However, after following the instructions, I was delighted when an airy, sweet, pretty looking bread dropped out the other side.

#5: Casatiello

Casatiello bread Casatiello bread Casatiello bread

I was very excited to start this. It is after all, cured meat and cheese in a bread loaf. Unfortunately I ended up not liking this one too much. The salami ended up too crispy for my taste, I would have liked more cheese, and the dough is very similar to brioche (very similar recipes, although the casatiello is lighter on the butter). Overall I think I baked it pretty well, just ended up not being to my taste. Meat and cheese in a leaner dough might suit me better and be something I should investigate.

#4: Brioche

Brioche bread Brioche bread Brioche bread

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know the first thing about brioche before baking it. I did the “rich-man’s brioche”, which has 88% as much butter as it does flour, which is just insane.

Overall, the dough tasted nice, although I couldn’t stop thinking about the amount of butter in there. Unfortunately, I made a mistake somewhere, and instead of having nice little “heads”, the mini-brioches all fell over. A dough that was too slack, over proofed, or just too much in each container, I’ll never know.

Overall, not a giant fan, but I had fun making it.

#3: Bagels

Bagels Bagels Bagels

I was pretty excited to try this one, since I love to eat a good bagel, and they have such a different texture from most breads. Very many things in this bake I had never done before, from using high-gluten flour and a low-moisture dough, to boiling each bagel brielfy before baking it.

Overall they came out a little more flat than commercial bagles, but the taste and texture are definitely there. I made bagels!

#2: Artos: Greek Celebration Bread

Artos bread Artos bread Artos bread

The second bread in BBA is a traditional Greek celebration bread. Like the first recipe, I didn’t expect to like this one too much (cloves, cinnamon, allspice are not my favorite flavors in general), but this was a delicious bread.

I chose to go with the Christopsomo (Christmas bread), just because the cross decoration didn’t look too hard to do, and the flavors (walnuts, raisins, cherries, orange extract) sounded nice. This was a real blast of Christmassy cheer, and is a bread I could definitely see myself making again for the holidays.

#1: Anadama Bread

Anadama bread Anadama bread Anadama bread

Anadama is a traditional bread in New England that contains molasses, milk, and cornmeal (its history is not 100% certain, except it existed in Rockport Massachussetts by 1850). I honestly didn’t expect to like this one too much, since molasses is not a favorite of mine. Overall, though, I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted like a slightly-sweet sandwich bread.

Not my favorite bread in the world, but happy that it worked.