Monday, May 18, 2009

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge Week 1

I am one of 200 bakers around the world involved in an amazing baking challenge. 

It is not a contest, but instead a group of mostly food bloggers who together are baking our way through the  James Beard Award baking book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Penned by Peter Reinhart, a baker extraordinaire that I have admired since his days as a baker in Sonoma County, California. His first book, Brother Juniper's Bread Book has long been a staple in my kitchen. 
The Challenge started when Pinch My Salt blogger, Nicole invited us to join her in the challenge to bake one recipe together each week and blog about it. So, the 200 of us are on our way.

This is week one. Our bread is called Anadama, a cornmeal (Polenta actually) infused bread that makes a really nice toast as well as awesome croutons and bread crumbs. I even used the dough as a pizza dough with fantastic success. Anadama has a fun story about it, Supposedly a very long time ago in Rockport Massachusetts a man was mad at his wife, Anna not only for leaving him, but also for leaving him with a pot of cornmeal and molasses, which he threw together with some yeast and flour muttering, "Anna Damn Her!" 

And so, here are some photos of the first bread and a pizza I made. 

The process is a long one, involving some waiting time while the polenta soaks 24 hours and the dough can also be slowed in rising midway through baking. Let me just say, the wait is worth it. Essentially it is a simple bread to make, just time consuming vs. an everyday loaf. The slight crunch added by the cornmeal and the slightly sweet and rich taste of the molasses work ever so well together. 

I would like to continue perfecting technique on this bread, adding whole wheat flour in place of the unbleached bread flour and working on the second rise a bit. I also noticed (too late) that I made one loaf bigger than the other. 
Here the loaves are in the oven baking: 
And since we just moved to Hawaii, I could not find my carbon steel bread pans. I usually make baguettes and free formed breads, so I was limited to these two smaller ceramic bakers, which worked fine, but I do want to try baking it in metal pans. 

Here is a BLT I made with the Anadama Bread, toasted. 
I will not be posting all of the recipes here for the breads, as it would be against copyright laws to do so, but I will be posting pictures, methods, successes and failures and challenges of doing these breads in a Hawaiian climate and with limited resources for ingredients. And I may post an occasional recipe. Mostly, I want to encourage you, my readers to go buy the book if you do not own it already and follow along, posting comments about your experiences. You certainly don't have to make every bread in the book as we are, but at least try some of them. 

Every Monday I will post about the bread I made that week. Our next bread is Artos: Greek Celebration Bread, which can be formed in a variety of ways. Please, if you are joining me in this challenge, or just baking one or two breads, send me an e-mail and let me know and feel free to create your own blog posts and link them here under comments so other readers can see what you are doing. 

If you live in the Hilo area and would like to come make bread with me, that would be great too! Just send me a note and we can make it happen. 


Susie said...

Wow, I loved your write up. Your photos are so thrilling. It is great how you put shots of where you live in the back ground.
Your sandwich I want now. :o)
Great job. I'll be following your blog.
Susie in northern NY

Anonymous said...

Those are just gorgeous pictures! The color of the plate and the flowers really sets off the bread beautifully. Good luck with your Artos choice!

Devany said...

Thanks for the comments Susie and Suzanne. It is nice to have thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.

I am a ceramic artist, so I also made the platter that the bread is on.

Chef E said...

Beautiful site, and thanks for the Fiddlehead info, as I do not have that much info in print on them, only what you find online...not many chefs I know like to cook with them, as they are expensive, and not many people will order them, so it is not cost effective in these times...

I am going to follow your post, so thanks!

Chef E said...

Can you put a 'follow this blog' button on from the layout section? So I can add you to my feed, thanks!

Sarah said...

Good luck on the bakers challenge! Th post before this one sounds fantastic, I love homemade stocks! Fortunately my local organic market makes it and sells it frozen to the public!

Catherine said...

Your photos are lovely! And that pizza looks amazing! Have fun with the Artos... it's so yummy!

Devany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christo Gonzales said...

your dish looks amazing, beautiful colors and your bread and pizza look mighty fine too...

Callipygia said...

Devany, your BLT is awe inspiring! I don't think I've seen one look so good. I also love your ceramic work, so beautiful!

allensylves said...

When I finally make it to the Hilo area, I am going to be sure to pass by your oceanside railing to see what you have sitting there. Looks great.

ATigerinTheKitchen said...

LOVE this! I'm an avid baker in NYC who adores Hawaii (my mother-in-law lives in Honolulu--lucky me.)...good luck with the challenge. I'll be following your exploits closely!

Devany said...

Thanks for your comments.

Alan, when you come to Hilo come on by and we will have dinner out on that Lanai.

Sarah, lucky you to have a grocery store with great stocks!

Cathy, thanks for the encouragement! You too Doggybloggy! You as well Calli.

And Tiger... I love NYC we have been there tons of times, my husband spent most of his career there. If you come to visit the big island when you are visiting your MIL, send me a note. We can "break some bread"!


Coconut Girl Connie said...

Go, little dot in the Pacific, go!

Anonymous said...

Ok now it's saturday... I've been left in suspense for Friday's bread post.

I guess I'll have to go buy a loaf of wonder bread.

Devany said...


Thanks for stopping by buddy... but what part of

"Every Monday I will post about the bread I made that week. Our next bread is Artos: Greek Celebration Bread, which can be formed in a variety of ways. "

Don't you understand?

jlarson750 said...

What a fun challenge! I love the photo of the bread on a plate, or is it a shell? Beautiful! Looking forward to reading about your adventure!

Devany said...

JLarson...thanks for becoming a follower! I got my start in the culinary industry with a catering company in Atlanta!

Connie... This little spot in the pacific is going to go, go go! Hey, wanna come bake with me sometime? Next week are bagels and the week after Brioche. There are over 50 different breads, some will be really fun to do in tandem.


Devany said...

J~ I just realized I did not answer your question. The platter is one I made. Most of my ceramic art is based on organic forms and most of that has something to do with oceania. You can see more at

Nico said...

Hi Devany, thanks for stopping at my blog. Your bread and pizza look fantastic, I love your baking stone is so thick, I wish I could get one like that for a decent price I had to go with the circular paper like grocery store crap.
Hawai o Hawai!!!! dreams, dreams, dreams...some day I'll go!!