The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA Challenge 2011

Jo_Jo_'s picture

How can something so easy, take so long to complete? It seemed like I spent the entire first day simply waiting. The dough for this is really really easy, but waiting for the yeast/dough to be ready for the next steps was very painful for someone who is impatient. Really, I must have been in the mood for something a little bit more complicated to make in order to keep me hopping around the kitchen, rather than do a couple minutes work and then wait. The results were amazing though, and between me and Andy we finished them all quickly. I ate the last one this morning for breakfast, cream cheese and green olives. MMMMMMMMM!!!!

Not sure why, but I have been putting this off.  (Note:  I think I simply remember dropping them into boiling water and kept thinking how truly klutzy I am)  I like bagels, and think this sounds like a good project, but for some reason they are just not exciting me.  I will be making half a batch of regular bagels and will fry up some onions to put on top, but won't use them in the actual dough.  Really, I suppose it's not helping that my sponge has risen for 3 hours and it still isn't at that magic stage he says will happen, when you bump it into the table and it all falls down.  Sounds rather like my sourdough when it's done feeding and crying for more food.

Right after mixing together, 1252 Pacific Time.

1440 Pacific Time

1526 Pacific Time, at least there are quite a few bubbles and it looks like it's doubled.

and I am still waiting... Looking at my pictures, it has actually risen more than I thought it had. I am giving it another hour, then going to call it good.  This was in my oven with the light turned on, so my kitchen must have been pretty cold today,  Not really a lot I can do about that, except try to be patient.

At 1633 I decided that was enough, it never fell like he said it would, but figured if I didn't get on with this recipe I would have to make dinner around it. I got my ingredients out for the next step.

I added the yeast and stirred it in.

Then I put most of the flour in, added salt and honey.

Then I used my dough hook to mix it up, added the additional flour, and then kneaded for 6 minutes using the dough hook.  My mixer didn't seem to have any problems with this dough, in fact it didn't even get warm.

I then shaped it into a ball, and cut it into 6 pieces each 4.6 oz.

I shaped the 6 pieces into balls, the same way I would for dinner rolls.

This was followed by a rest period of 20 minutes, with a damp towel on top.

I shaped them into bagel shapes, and drank my Lemon Mint tea...

...and covered them with plastic to sit for 20 minutes.

Even putting them in the oven with the light on didn't seem to hurry them up much.

My bagels actually took an hour to get to the point they would float. I actually had a little piece of dough leftover, even though I took the dough weight, and divided by 6 to come up with 4.6 oz for each bagel. I used this little piece to do the float test, and it bounced right back up!

From BBA Bagels
All my equipment ready for the boiling and baking. You ever get rid of a pan because you think you no longer have any use for it? I actually thought that I wouldn't use my great big stock pot anymore. What an insane thought, of course I think this after the deed is done. So here I was, trying to figure out what to use and I decided on my electric skillet. I knew there were going to be some issues, but let me just say..... don't try doing this with a pan that doesn't have high sides on it. I recommend a stockpot and only filling it partway up, plenty of room for the water to splash around it.

From BBA Bagels

Lets see, I really don't like using seeds for anything, so I decided on fresh chopped onions and fried them part way done with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I really didn't put a lot of the garlic salt in, but if I had it to do over again I would not add salt to the topping at all. I don't like a lot of salt anyway, and most recipes have way more than I would use normally.  My dough had plenty in it, almost too much, so adding it to the topping ended up being way to much.  Luckily it wasn't enough to ruin the bagels though.

I sprayed olive oil onto the parchment paper, and then sprinkled semolina flour onto the surface.

Now I have to tell you, the one other time I made bagels I remember dropping them into boiling water, and it was not an easy thing to do with a stockpot. This time I pulled the cookie sheet out of the refrigerator, then I actually cut the parchment paper into little squares around each of the bagels. That made it a lot easier to slip them into the boiling water.

There has to be a better way to flip them over in that boiling water.

I probably lost some of my initial heat in the oven, simply because I forgot to take a picture before putting them into the oven. Oh well, the onions were a little hard to get to stick to the top, but they did ok.

I ended up cooking mine about 4 minutes longer than the book told me to, but they turned out really good.  For not wanting to make them in the first place, I really enjoyed them.  Much better than store bought for sure, and the crust and crumb turned out exactly like I would want a fresh bagel to taste.  Overall this was a lot of fun, and a bigger success than I thought it would be.  Still need a new BIG stock pot.....

Jo_Jo_'s picture

From GreekCelebrationBread


It was a challenge, but I figured out the baker’s percentages for the poolish used in this bread.  I really only wanted enough poolish for this recipe, not enough to make 2 or 3 more recipes!  We just don't eat that much bread!  Thank you to whoever made that wonderful spreadsheet I used!  It really helped a lot. I found it on this website, but am not quite sure where the link to it is!


I have decided to participate as much as I can in BBA Challenge 2011, barring some of the breads that simply don't make sense to make.  I get sick when I eat walnuts, so most of those types are out if they rely on walnuts.  Maybe I will ask for suggestions on alternative ingredients that might work just as well in those breads.  I also might have to substitute other preferments for sourdough for any of the whole wheat breads, since my husband seems to have problems with wild yeasts. I on the other hand do better with white, lean, sourdough breads.

I started this challenge as a personal journey after reading the first section of Peter Reinhart's book.  His book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, inspired me because it gave me the science behind bread making.  It spent the time to give me the greatest gift of all, understanding of what exactly is happening in each step of bread making.  I have baked for many years, or maybe I should call it banging my head against a wall wondering why some breads turned out so much better than others.  If I am going to thank Peter Reinhart I must also remember to thank The Fresh Loaf, which has many very experienced bread bakers who spend a lot of time helping people make extraordinary bread.  Anyone can make ordinary bread, some loafs will be ok and some will be a failure and you just won’t know why.  But with a little bit of knowledge and help from people who have gone through it themselves you can make bread in your own kitchen that rivals the local grocery stores if not the local bakers!  The best part is that you will start to understand why it works and doesn't work. 

On to the actual bread, I chose Christopsomos which to me almost looks like an alien.  You know, creatures from outer space!  I decided that since this is a bread that reflects the special occasion it is made for, that is must be a very Blueberry weekend coming up.  Yes, my fruit of choice is dried blueberries which are totally awesome.  I also chose to use almonds instead of walnuts, simply because walnuts make me sick and almonds don’t! 

I started by measuring and weighing and gathering all my ingredients and equipment, “mise en place” which means everything in it’s place.  Makes a bigger mess, but sure helps you not forget things.  Rather like the scout motto, “Be Prepared”.


From GreekCelebrationBread

I mixed the ingredients, with the only variation being that I used the milk to prepare my Active Dry Yeast by soaking for 10 minutes.

I followed this with adding the poolish to the milk and yeast, using the paddle to mix them. Then I added the other liquid ingredients and used the paddle on setting 2 to mix them.

After I finished mixing them together to make a smooth liquid, I added the dry ingredients and used the paddle to form them into a sticky gooey mess. At first I held back some of the flour, but when I saw how moist it was I went ahead and added it and used the paddle to mix. I took the paddle off at this point and put the dough hook on. The recipe did not call for an autolyse, but I gave it 20 minutes because it was so shaggy looking. This seemed to help the dough a lot.  I then used my dough hook on setting 2 for about 10 minutes, what a mess it looks like.

I measured the blueberries and almonds and added them to the mixer, then used the dough hook on setting 2 to mix them in. Still looks pretty wet and messy, but when I touch it the dough feels tacky not sticky.

It is now formed into two balls and put into separate bowls to rise for 90 minutes. They shaped nicely, and didn't stick to my hands nearly as much as I thought they might. This has been a fun bread to make so far.

The second picture is at 82 minutes, I think this will need a little bit longer to rise. My house is definitely not as warm as other peoples.

This dough is really awesome, so supple and easy to handle. I loved it. The boule is made and the long strips are ready to go on top.

Next comes placing the strips and cutting, then making the little curly things at the ends.

The decoration on top looks a little bit out of shape, but hopefully it will look better before it's done! Who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good!  Will edit this tomorrow with a picture of the crumb, that is if I can wait!




cpanza's picture

BBA Challenge 2011

January 2, 2011 - 8:02pm -- cpanza

Hi All,

I've been at baking seriously now for about a year. Up until now, I've mostly stayed within Carol Field's book (The Italian Baker) and only just recently got a copy of Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I realize that since the book was printed a few "BBA Challenges" have been run, where bakers come together online to try to work through each of the recipes in the book.

cpanza's picture

BBA Challenge 2011

December 24, 2010 - 7:40pm -- cpanza

Hi All,

I've been at baking seriously now for about a year. Up until now, I've mostly stayed within Carol Field's book (The Italian Baker) and only just recently got a copy of Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I realize that since the book was printed a few "BBA Challenges" have been run, where bakers come together online to try to work through each of the recipes in the book.


Subscribe to RSS - BBA Challenge 2011