The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA Weekend

pmccool's picture

BBA Weekend

After a 3 week stretch with no baking, I finally caught up a bit this past weekend.  With the exception of some crescent rolls for Thanksgiving dinner from a recipe in Southern Living magazine, everything was from the Bread Bakers Apprentice.

My wife volunteered me to bring cinnamon rolls to a brunch with friends.  I decided to try Reinhart's formula from BBA and it was a big hit.  I made a double batch so that I could try both the cinnamon roll and the sticky bun variations.  Plus, we needed a bunch anyway.  The dough is fabulously rich and sweet.  The inclusion of the lemon zest adds both a fragrance and a flavor that are still identifiable in the finished baked goods.  Because it was for a Saturday brunch, I made the dough Friday evening, shaped it into rolls and put them in the refrigerator to retard overnight.  That gave me time to bake them in the morning and convey them, still warm, to the brunch. 

I did take a few liberties with the rolls.  Reinhart calls for spreading a cinnamon sugar mixture on the dough before rolling it up, using white sugar.  I replaced the white sugar with brown sugar for some additional flavor.  And, remembering a delightful twist from my college days, I scattered some chopped apple and chopped walnuts on the cinnamon rolls before rolling up the dough.  (That idea comes from the enormous cinnamon rolls that are still available from the Hilltop Restaurant in L'Anse, Michigan, just up the hill from Lake Superior.  They will even ship the rolls to buyers in the U.S. if you want to order them from their website at  And no, I don't get any commission, just a bit of nostalgia.)  The other variation was to add some chopped pecans on top of the glaze for the sticky buns.

Here are the cinnamon rolls, after coming out of the refrigerator:

Unbaked cinnamon rolls

You can see that the dough is so soft (I didn't even need a rolling pin to spread it into a rectangle; just patted it out) that some of the rolls have partially collapsed, even though they were refrigerated.  If I have to use the overnight retard again, I think that I will allow them to rise to nearly full size before putting them into the refrigerator.  That way they will hold their shape better.  As it was, I had to nudge them back into shape as they completed rising at room temperature.

Finished, they looked like this:

Baked and glazed cinnamon rolls

The sticky buns looked like this after being taken from the refrigerator:

Unbaked sticky buns

As with the cinnamon rolls, I had to straighten these up as they rose.  You can see the layer of caramel topping in the bottom of the pan, with the bits of pecans.  Reinhart notes that any excess topping can be refrigerated.  Silly man!  We used it all!

After baking and inverting onto another pan to let all of that wonderful caramel coat them, the sticky buns looked like this:

Baked sticky buns

Oh, yeah, they are good!  One friend said that although the cinnamon rolls were the best she had ever had, the sticky buns were over the top.  My wife has already told me that these will be on the menu when everyone is home for Christmas.

It also occurred to me that my sourdough starter had been neglected recently, so I started feeding it on Friday morning.  After four feedings, one of rye, it was ready to go to work Saturday afternoon.  Since there was enough to fuel two batches of bread, I started with the New York Deli Rye from BBA.  When I made the deli rye previously, I used fennel seeds in place of the optional caraway seeds.  This time, I remembered just how well dill gets along with onion, so I added dill seed to the dough.  It may not be original, but it is absolutely delicious in this bread.  What a great foundation for sandwiches!  The dill seed, I think, will be a standard part of this recipe going forward.  Because of the yeast that Reinhart includes in this formula, I was able to complete this bread before going to bed Saturday evening.  Here are the finished loaves:

Sourdough NY Deli Rye

I'm not entirely certain what caused the lighter blotchiness on the top crust, unless maybe it was the spray oil on the plastic that I used to cover the loaves while they fermented.

After setting the deli rye dough to bulk ferment, I started a batch of the basic sourdough bread, also from BBA.  After bulk fermenting and shaping at room temperature, the loaves went into the refrigerator.  On Sunday, after getting home from church, I pulled the dough out of the refrigerator and allowed it to finish fermenting at room temperature.  Then I baked it on a stone, with steam, starting at 500F and then dropping to 450F after 10 minutes.  When the internal temperature reached 205F (love that instant read thermometer!), took them out of the oven.  At that point, they looked like this:

BBA Basic Sourdough

I still need to practice slashing, although one loaf came out better than the other.  They also formed small ears along the slashes.  I have no idea what the crumb looked like, since I gave them to friends.  Apparently the flavor was alright, since they reported that one loaf was half-eaten by the time they got back to their house.

It was a real treat to get that much baking in over the course of a few days, especially since a couple of recipes were new to me.  And it was a pleasure to find some new favorites.


JMonkey's picture

Those sticky buns look tremendous! And thanks for the reminder -- I forgot to feed my rye starter this weekend. Gotta do that tonight.

Thegreenbaker's picture

I am drooling at all those yummy baked goods!

And not just the sweet ones.





mountaindog's picture

Oh my those cinnamon buns look awesome! I drooled over the recipe in BBA also and would love to try them, but alas, I have a dairy allergy that prevents me from eating anything with butter or milk in it...somehow I don't think any soy substitues would be suitable...and if I did make the BBA version for my family it would be torture smelling them and not being able to eat any.

Your sourdough baguettes are gorgeous as well, the slashes came out much better than any I am able to do, nice color and ears too!

pmccool's picture

That was an especially satisfying weekend for baking.  The problem (if you want to call it that) is that I'm still using up the bread I have in the freezer, so I haven't done any further bread baking since.  I have managed to squeeze in a couple of batches of Rocky Road Fudge Bars, though.

Regarding the dairy allergy, I wonder if the cinnamon roll formula would work (with some adjustments) using a vegetable shortening, such as butter-flavored Crisco.  Since they are pushing their product, the helpful folks at Crisco provide a substitution table, here:  There are bound to be some differences in flavor, since nothing compares to real butter.  Still, it might give you a chance to enjoy these first-hand rather than vicariously through your family. 

Of course, by suggesting a means for avoiding your food allergy symptoms, I might be pushing you in the direction of adult-onset diabetes.  There's no such thing as a free lunch, is there? 


breadnerd's picture

<blockquote>The problem (if you want to call it that) is that I'm still using up the bread I have in the freezer, so I haven't done any further bread baking since.</blockquote>


I know that feeling! I like to bake in big batches--especially with the mud oven, as you spend 5 hours getting it hot, you might as well get as much baking as possible out of it! But then I go without baking for 2 weeks, and start to miss it. I try to do small thing, such as flat breads or something novel, to keep me baking :)


mountaindog's picture

Thanks for the link to the crisco site - I called their customer service and they verified that butter-flavored crisco contains no milk by-products like casein, which I'm allergic to, so that is a possibility, but it does contain those nasty trans fats (which real butter does not). Currently I use EarthBalance's Soy Garden buttery spread which I really like the taste of and which has won awards by the American Culinary institute for best taste - it really is surpisingly good! I've not tried baking with it yet and may try using it in a brioche and see how it comes out. I like this product also because it contains no trans fat and is vegan and kosher. You can find it in most health food stores. Here is a link to their website explaining the ingredients and uses for anyone interested:

Yes, the brioche and cinnamon rolls are saved for special occasions and holidays due to their richness and carbs. I can see the dilemma you share with Breadnerd on the excess bread - I am fortunate to have extended family nearby who manage to put away all of the breads I bake on the weekends, especially as they are French and have to hold a piece of bread in their hand for every meal - yet they are thin as the French paradox ensures they would be - the red wine after all... We also seem to have a revolving door of weekend guests visiting here from NYC so the muffins and breads do not last long. If it was just my husband and I we would have the same dillemma. How about making the excess bread into breadcrumbs to use in your next turkey stuffing?