Bread Baker’s Challenge from Pinch My Salt

While I was looking around at the results of last month’s (August 2009) Daring Baker’s challenge, I found the site, Pinch My Salt. Nicole and friends are working their way through Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Actually, they started in May. Although they’re not taking more people, I love to make bread and Nicole invites everyone to join on several pages of her site. So, I’m going to try to catch up.

The Breads:

IMG_2816IMG_28171) Anadama Bread: The critical aspect of this bread is the molasses. I used Wholesome Sweetener’s organic molasses. The type of molasses makes a difference because you can produce a lighter or darker bread, with an associated richer or less rich molasses flavor.

On Nicole’s website and description of this first loaf, Pinch my salt describes a fellow baker’s instructions as to how to tell a sticky from a tacky bread.  To summarize, stick your dry hand into the dough, pull up, and if it falls back into the boll and is not a sticky mess, then it’s tacky.  [She gave credit to Phyl Of cabbages and King cakes ].

My sister loves molasses and couldn’t get enough.  We ate one loaf plus a little and sent the rest with my husband to his office and then gave the 3rd loaf to my brother-in-law’s cousin who just was in a car accident.  (Someone driving a car hit her while she was on her bike.)


IMG_2822IMG_28302) Greek Celebration Bread – Christopsomos:  After seeing the picture of the Christopsomos, I had to try it.  The dough has an interesting shaping after proofing.  After you divide the dough into 2/3 and 1/3, you let the 2/3 boule rise on the counter at room temperature and set the 1/3 into the fridge.  When ready to bake, you take out the 1/3 piece, divide it into two and roll into two long pieces that you place in a cross across the boule.  It’s beautiful and the glaze made it glisten.  The flavor was fantastic.  The only thing I’d do differently next time would be to make slits near the overlapping bread pieces.  Because I glazed the loaf, I stored it in a cake container.


3) Bagels:  The description for these bagels is lengthy and extremely informative.  I looked all over for the malt powder but could not find it.  So, I used only the barley malt liquid.  Because the dough was stiff, it was extremely easy to shape.  I went ahead and made boules, let them rest, and then poked a hole through to make the bagel shape.  Really easy.  I served homemade peach jam, cream cheese and lox.


4) Brioche: Brioche is a base bread formula for many familiar breads (see Levy Beranbaum The Bread Bible). Peter Reinhardt has 3 different types of brioche recipes. The rich man’s version has more butter and produces 3 loaves; the poor man’s version has 1 fewer egg and much less butter.   I trod the middle road – The middle class version.

I didn’t have brioche pans but still wanted to get the height.  So, I went ahead and used a muffin tin.  They look more like rolls than like brioche because we’re so used to the fluted sides.

IMG_2838The taste was fantastic without anything else on it.  The little girls ate them with jam (strawberry & peach), and cream cheese and lox.IMG_2841

IMG_28455) Casatiello:   Peter Reinhardt tells us that this bread is a form of Italian brioche.  The beauty is in the combination of meat and cheese.  I used finely chopped prosciutto in place of the salami and Mahon Spanish cheese in place of Provolone.  I like the sharper flavor of the Mahon.  Everyone loved this bread.  My sister considered this bread to be like a very sophisticated ham and cheese.  One loaf went to my friend Maggie as a gift to serve at the event she was hosting.  She said that everyone loved it there, too, and this was her favorite by far.  This recipe is a real keeper.

6.  Challah:  Many recipes for challah are out there on the internet and in bread books.  Before making any challah, I wanted to make a comparison among various recipes for challah that I had readily available.  So, I copied Beranbaum’s recipe from The Bread Bible and printed one from her website, along with the challah recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia.  (I have these books and they are both good.)  Leite’s Culinaria just posted a new one from Arthur Schwartz, too.

Greenspan - unbaked

Greenspan - unbaked

Beranbaum’s recipes were very different from the others because they use a starter.  Reinhardt’s recipe is very similar to Schwartz’.  Dorie Greenspan’s version is different because it uses a large quantity of butter (fat).  While butter does have water content, the amount of fat is still much larger than Reinhardt’s or Schwartz’ recipes.  This would make a difference in both flavor and moisture retention.  Further, and of course you’d need to note the added dairy.

Reinhardt - unbaked

Reinhardt - unbaked

So, I decided to make the Greenspan and Reinhardt recipes at the same time.  While the making of these doughs was very similar, the smell was vastly different out of the oven.  The Baking with Julia recipe indeed resembled brioche and had a distinct pastry smell; while the Reinhardt had a more yeasty smell – the smell of bread.

Greenspan - baked

Greenspan - baked

I did shape the two loaves different by trying the smaller braid on top of the larger from the Reinhardt instructions.  I love the presentation of that bread.  Although both shapes looked beautiful, the braid on braid was so dramatic.  I would definitely do this shape again.

We ate the bread for breakfast and gave away one loaf to a neighbor.  The girls used them in sandwiches and we had a great French toast one morning.

Reinhardt - baked

Reinhardt - baked

7.  Ciabatta:  OK… My ciabatta was long and thin when it went to proof.


Then in the oven in bulged up.  The crust was really crunchy, the texture was moist, and the taste was great.  It just wasn’t long and thin.  So, I’ll definitely go back and re-make this one when I get a moment.  I did love using the linen that Marilyn gave me.  The doughs proofed well and came off of the linen easily.IMG_2874

I posted these next 3 breads on the blog.  Unlike the breads above, the information below is an exact duplicate.


8.  Cinnamon rolls:  There are a lot of choices when you’re making this recipe.  You can choose sticky buns instead of cinnamon rolls; you can choose bread or AP flour; and you can choose buttermilk over regular milk or even use powdered milk.  I used buttermilk because I’ve never made cinnamon rolls with buttermilk before.  In the past, I’ve made 12-16 cinnamon rolls from various recipes.  For this batch, I chose 16 but was a little saddened by how small they were.  (I usually like smaller items but in this case, I’d prefer a fuller one.)  So, next time I’ll cut just 12.  I’ll also use butter before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar.  These rolls were good but not as good as the one from Marion Cunningham’s breakfast book.

bread just out of the oven

bread just out of the oven

9.  Cinnamon Raisin Walnut bread:  This recipe is interesting because it uses buttermilk.  Following the cinnamon rolls and preceding the cornbread, the use of buttermilk is extremely noticeable.  The flavor of the bread is good but not particularly cinnamon.  I used golden raisins and probably should have used the darker raisins for contrast.

bread brushed with butter & dusted with cinnamon sugar

bread brushed with butter & dusted with cinnamon sugar

I did brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar right out of the oven.  This made an absolutely beautiful crust – I would use this method again.



IMG_291810.  Cornbread:  I love making cornbread.  It’s one of the easiest things to throw into the oven and have almost immediately.  Like many of the recipes in Reinhardt’s book, this one requires soaking polenta the night before.  The technique of warming the pan with fat is not new and creates a nice crust around the outside.  Using bacon fact, along with the added bacon, makes the cornbread really rich.  Sprinkling the top with bacon is like decorating a cake.  It’s a fantastic addition.  Just to make another plug for our local corn, I used Munson peaches & cream corn which is my favorite.  Finally, the family verdict is that this recipe is a keeper.IMG_2921

11.  Cranberry walnut celebration bread is like challah.  It’s enriched and has a lot of dried fruit and nuts.  (I ran out of cranberries and added cherries.)  Reinhart is correct that it seems like the fruit and nuts won’t stay in the dough but some how they magically do.  I loved making a double-decker loaf again.  It’s just a lot of fun.IMG_2935






12.  The English Muffins looked just like the ones you buy from the store but were quite a bit bigger.  I went with making 7 rather than making all 6 larger.  The recipe was easy and fun.  They did not have the huge wholes and tasted like bread.  On the other hand, we liked them quite a bit.  From reading around on the web, it sounds like you need to add a lot more liquid and use rings, although someone claimed to just let them rise longer than they should.


IMG_297514.  I made the Foccacia version with poolish; however, I had to refrigerate the pan to slow down the rise so that I could take my mother out for lunch.  I then removed the pan and continued to let it rise on the counter.  It worked out well but just tasted like bread.  I think it would make a great thick pizza and definitely needs spices.



Yeah!  Three more breads from Peter Reinhardt’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice done on top of the three 166% hydration starter described earlier.  Basically, I interleaved breads – due to all the starters and varying rising techniques.   I’ll say again that I like autolyse (allowing the flour and water to sit for a bit before adding yeast and continuing with the formula) because it seems to make the whole process of creating the dough easier and overnight retarding of the shaped dough (or of the dough).  There’s a lot of flavor development.

IMG_301715.  French Bread:  This bread is a 2-day bread which allows for some additional flavor development.  My dough was on the wet side and therefore harder to shape.  However, the flavor was great.

16.  Italian bread:  This is also a 2-day bread.  The base dough formula includes barley malt powder (but not a tremendous amount).  I loved the flavor of this bread and the dough was not quite as wet as the French Bread.   Because I baked both of these doughs in parallel, I could compare the finished products.  They tasted really different from each other but both equally good.  I’d give the edge to this Italian bread though.IMG_3016

17.  Kaiser rolls:  This is a fairly basic dough – requiring a pate fermentee (please excuse the lack of accents here).  Again, this dough used barley malt.  So, it’s basically a mix of the French bread and Italian bread recipes.  I don’t own the neat tool to make the pattern on top and so used the knotted-roll technique shown earlier in the book.  Actually, this is one of the best parts of Reinhard’ts book – there’s a full color picture section in the beginning of the book with different shaping techniques.  I loved the crustiness of the rolls and they tasted fantastic.  I would make these again.IMG_3004

IMG_301210/20/2009  These are the breads that I made in the previous week. Note that I’m skipping the Marbled Rye.  I dislike rye.  So, I don’t keep rye flour around the house.  Also, my numbering went wrong some where and so I’m correcting things with the Lavash.


17.  Lavash Crackers:   I love crackers – salty, crunchy, not overly fat.  So, I’ve been looking forward to trying Reinhardt’s Lavash recipe.  Let’s just cut to the chase:  They are great.  The formula is easy to make, the dough is easy to roll, and they turn out beautifully.

I used just Kosher salt because the little ones don’t care for seeds.  (Hopefully, we can start getting them to try them again over time.)  I would definitely make this recipe again.   As an aside, I baked the crackers according to the recipe.  However, after cooling, they didn’t seem as crisp, probably due to resting on the cookie sheet.  So, I stuck the crackers back into the oven straight on the rack.  Both sides crisped up nicely.  Also, be careful of the edges because they can get thick and will not bake cri



18.  Light Whole Wheat:  This is an extremely basic recipe, slightly enriched with powdered milk and butter.  The dough could have taken a bit more water.  After baking, it was delicious, with a nice crumb.

20.  Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire:  This dough is another 2 day process.  You soak the grains the night before and add them to the mix.  I

used more water because my soaker seemed to use all the water almost instantly.  Then I just didn’t need to use as much water when making the base dough.  Reinhardt specifies pan sizes.  Note that the pan size for this dough is larger than for the Light Whole Wheat.  I thought I grabbed the right one, but instead too

k the smaller one – it still looked great, though.  Due to the grains, there’s a texture to the crust but the inside was soft.  I liked the flavor.  It’s not one-dimensional;  instead the flavor is a little on the sweet side and you can taste the different types of grains.  I would definitely make this again substituting different types of grains.



IMG_303521.  Pain à L’Ancienne:  The picture shows long thin, odd-shaped breads.  That’s exactly how mine turned out.  They tasted amazing, however, the whole shaping and end product were just too odd.  I have a much better understanding of Ciabatta after making this bread, though.  [The Pain à L’Ancienne is the bread on the left.  I baked a lot of things that day, including a whole wheat oatmeal loaf, a raisin/oat soudough loaf, and chocolate chocolate chip cookies.]*


Pain de Campagne

22.  Pain de Campagne:  This was a fantastic recipe.

23.  Pane Siciliano:  Quite honestly, I tried making this bread before.  When you do sourdough and care for a starter, you’re always on the lookout for something to do with the leftover starter after you’ve fed the base.  This formula, though, works perfectly with the pâte fermentée specified – You’d have to make a starter that was firmer (less hydrated).  On the other hand, the current attempt was great.  The flavor was fantastic, largely due to the pate fermentée and the overnight rise of the formed dough.  With less hydration, the shaping was easy, too.



Aside from making cookies, I’ve also been baking breads. Again, these breads are from Peter Reinhardt’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  I’ve been baking the breads as part of Pinch My Salt’s BBA challenge.

24. Panettone: This bread is filled with lovely dried fruits and nuts. It’s usually served around the holidays and great for gifts. So this was a perfect way to try it out before everyone shows up. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the fancy liners; however, it was easy enough to make a collar for my pans. I made 2 smaller loaves and a few muffin tin loaves. Because I don’t like those odd candied fruits, I used a blend of dried cherries, raisins, and cranberries. I also sprinkled more almonds on the top for decoration. The flavor was really good and wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

25. Pizza Napoletana: I’ve been making sourdough pizza for a while now, because I have a sourdough starter and I have to feed it. I hate throwing out starter and so I convert the remainder to pizza dough. Needless to say, none of the various recipes I’ve tried compares to this dough. This is the best pizza dough I have ever made. The size of the pizzas are smaller but they came out perfectly. I can’t emphasize enough how great this dough is.

26. Poolish Baguettes: This dough is interesting because it has a mix of whole wheat and white. There are detailed instructions about what to do and I basically followed the sifting. However, the dough ended up very dense and I think I would have been better off following the alternative instructions – reducing the amount of whole wheat and not bothering to sift. I may try this again because the flavor was good (especially since I used my wonderful locally produced whole wheat.)

27. Portuguese Sweet Bread: After having gushed about the pizza dough above, I’d say that this dough is also incredibly fantastic. It’s so good that I actually photocopied it for a friend (whom I’d consider a master bread baker). We both grew up in Southern CA and had this bread as we were growing up. Her father really likes it and she’s headed there right now. I’m hoping to find out whether it worked as well for her as it does for me. I’ve made it both exactly as the recipe is written and with my sourdough starter as a substitute for the sponge. Both ways are fantastic. I’d highly recommend this recipe, as well as the pizza dough, from this set of 4 from this week.

28.  Potato Rosemary Bread:  For this bread, I substituted thyme because I prefer it.  So, I guess I made  Potato Thyme Bread, instead.  Everyone loved the flavor and it was so moist.

29.  Pugliese:  I can’t find the picture and so I’ll re-do and add this one later.

30.  Sourdough:  Rather than making the starter from this book, I used the starter that I’ve been feeding for a long time now.  A friend gave this starter to me a long time ago.  It dates to the year my daughter was born!  As you can see from the pictures, the recipe was fantastic.

31.  Poilane-style Miche:  This was not a difficult bread, although it did take a while.  The flavor was great.

29.  Pugliese:  So, I made this bread around the holidays and couldn’t find the picture among all the pictures that I took at that time.  This bread is interesting because it has an optional mashed potato ingredient.  The potato added an interesting texture and I think it made the bread last longer on the counter.

*I’m skipping the rye breads.  I’ve never liked rye and the smell makes my daughter and I a little ill.

32.  Stollen:  My friend makes stollen at Xmas.  She makes a different version from her mother and, when she was in Wisconsin over the holidays, she tried another version (that had a lot of alcohol, apparently).  I asked her to try this bread and she liked it.  She also showed me another cookbook where they had a base recipe and many versions.  The one in this book is similar to the Dresden version in her book, without cardamom.  I did not use alcohol and the fruit and bread were very moist.  I also used the shaping method 2 – a little difficult but fun to try.

33.  Tuscan Bread:  The interesting part of this bread is that there is no salt.  While there is a base flour/water mixture that is made the evening ahead and olive oil, the bread still was a little flat.  The family didn’t like it as much as the others.  So, I think we won’t be making this one again.  By the way, I took pictures of the Tuscan bread and was surprised about how similar it looks to the Pugliese.  Of course, this might be expected, since I made boules for both; however, they taste very different.

34.  Vienna Bread:  This bread is like many of the others in this book.  It’s made in 2 days, and uses instant yeast and barley syrup.  It’s enriched – has egg and fat.  What’s different are the instructions for the Dutch crunch topping at the very end of the recipe.  The only different ingredient is the rice flour.  I spread the paste onto the bread before it went into the oven.   The bread was good (moist and delicious) and I really liked the topping.  I would go to the extra effort again.

35. White bread (version 1): This version has so much butter that it’s actively hard to tell whether you’ve gotten the right consistency. The dough just feels way too soft. However, not only did the bread rise to a nice height, it tasted fantastic…. This bread was so good that you definitely don’t need any added butter or jam or anything. I would make this again.  (My daughter has been eating slices of this bread for her lunches.)

36. Whole wheat bread: I bake a lot of whole wheat bread; however, it’s usually a mix of white and whole wheat. Adding white gives it more texture, ability to form gluten and a lighter taste and texture. This bread requires an overnight soaker and poolish – These both add flavor.  (My family did not care for this bread.  I transformed it into a garlic bread loaf and that was very well received.)

37. Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes:  I liked the idea of this bread because there’s a lot of cheese but most of it is on the inside and so therefore will not burn.  Also, using potatoes should keep it more moist for a longer period of time.  I don’t know what happened but the bread loaves were huge.  From the description (to lay the loaves width-wise on the pan), I had the impression that they’d be small.  However, when I rolled them out, they were so large that I put them length-wise on the pan.  The flavors were good.  I’d actually prefer more cheese flavor some how.

38. Roasted onion and asiago miche:  So, the answer to the “not enough cheese flavor” was definitely answered in this bread.  There’s cheese in the dough, as well as on top.  I did have to cover the top in order to get the dough to bake long enough (until it was done). I made half the recipe and the loaf was still huge.  The flavors were amazing – from the roasted onion (which I put under the final cheese on top rather than above it) to the green onion, chives and cheese in the dough to the long hold times for the dough itself.  In some ways, it was a fitting last bread because so many of the breads in this book use a several day method or a form of autolyse – barm, and mixture sitting for 30 min after brief mix, over-nighting in the fridge…  The texture was also very good – although I think that there were a few odd spaces where I pressed the dough in and it rose up around those places.  I loved this bread.  There were so many layers of flavor that it’s hard to describe.  You’ll just have to make it.


5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joining the Bread Baker’s Challenge « Etudes in Food  |  September 9, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    […] While I was looking around at the results of last month’s (August 2009) Daring Baker’s challenge, I found the site, Pinch My Salt. They are working their way through Peter Reinhardt’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. So, I’m going to try to catch up. You can go to this page for more detailed notes. […]

  • 2. Frieda  |  September 18, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you so much for your post on all your beautiful breads~ I jumped into the challenge with ciabatta and have yet to make these breads….I am looking forward to seeing more of your bread posts~

  • 3. Three more breads « Etudes in Food  |  September 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    […] September 18, 2009 Here are the next 3 breads from Pinch My Salt’s BBA challenge. If you want more details and pictures, go to this page…more detailed notes. […]

  • 4. French, Italian & Kaiser rolls « Etudes in Food  |  October 11, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    […] this page to see the rest of the breads I’ve baked so […]

  • 5. Daring Bakers Dec 2010 – Stollen « Etudes in Food  |  December 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

    […] ~I made Peter Reinihart’s version last year while working through his book <The Bread Baker’s Apprentice>.  This time I used the challenge recipe but did not use the rum, nor did I use the candied fruit.  I divided the dough in half so that I could try something else with the other half.  (To see my full baking adventure with this book, click here.) […]


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