The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

BBA Challenge/Artisan Bread Baking for Highschool

em120392's picture

BBA Challenge/Artisan Bread Baking for Highschool

Hey guys! I'm taking a high school internship course called W.I.S.E. which allows a student to study about and to work in their desired trade. For my W.I.S.E. project, I chose Artisan Bread Baking as my topic.

I have been baking bread since I was thirteen, and I wanted to take this course to further my knowlege and gain work experience in a bakery. Next year for college, I plan to attend Johnson and Wales University, which specializes in the Culinary Arts. I thought that this project will prepare me for my future career, for I am going to be working in an Artisan Bread Bakery.  Also, I found that during this project, I can challenge myself to comlete the BBA Challenge. Starting in January, and ending in May, I hope to bake my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

My brother, Evan, who's 24, and I decided that we would begin a blog to chronical both of our experiences through BBA. Evan lives in California, and I live in New Jersey, and we thought it would be interesting to note the different challenges and sucesses of the recipes.

Anyway, I hope that our blog will interest some fellow bakers, or fellow BBA challenge participants! We'd love to have your commentary, suggestions, or recommendations for new recipes to try!

Thank you for taking the time to read!

-Emily (18)


ps. Here is my post for French Bread.

(It might make more sense if you read my W.I.S.E. Project Proposal, as well as previous entries.)


This is my blog entry for Reinhart's French Bread:

I skipped ahead on the BBA challenge. I wanted to go through the book in order, but I didn't have time to bake bagels this weekend. They take two days to make, and I wasn't home enough to bake them. This is a difficulty in bread baking at home-although bread is easy to make, one must tend to the dough according to the starter, risings, and baking, which can be time consuming and inconvenient.

My mentor, Mr. Esteban, enjoys savory breads rather than enriched, sweet breads. I could have moved on to brioche, but I thought he would have appreciated a crusty, slightly sour French loaf more, and I have been itching to try French bread. Also, I felt like I was teasing him about my bread baking- telling him about it, but not making anything for him. I hope he enjoys the baguettes!

Reinhart begins with a pate fermente, an overnight starter which lends the final dough more flavor. It is simple- it combines flour, water, salt, and yeast into a rather stiff dough. I let the dough rise for about an hour, and then refrigerated overnight.

The next morning, I let the pate fermete warm up, and cut it into smaller pieces so I could incorporate it into the final dough. Like the pate fermente, the bread contained the same proportions of ingredients. After mixing with flour, salt, yeast, water and pate fermente into a ball, I kneaded it for about 6 minutes, or until I could easily use the windowpane test. Out of pure laziness, I kneaded the dough in the machine, rather than by hand. I feel more connected to the dough when I knead by hand, but, I was tired and didn't want to dirty the counters.

After the dough is kneaded, it rests for about two hours, to rise for the first time. Then I shaped the baguettes like I thought I should. I spread the dough out, and folded it into thirds like letters. I proceeded to elongate them into their proper shape. However, after making them I went on Youtube (great idea, huh?) and watched the proper way. After folding in thirds, you're supposed to create tension on the outside of the bread by rolling it up in two separate "folding/rollings." Afterwards, you gently seal the bread with the heel of your palm and then proceed elongating. Next time, I guess.

I let the dough rise for the last time for two hours. I do not have a lame yet, so I cut the slits with a pairing knife. On two of the loaves, I cut rather perpendicular, leaving the slashes not very attractive. However, on the third, the slashes were much more pronounced because I used a 45 degree angle.

After I took them out of the oven, I could hear the crusts crackling. I was so excited-they looked promising. After they had cooled, I sliced a piece. The crumb was rather dense, not holey and airy like I imagine a true baguette. I was rather disappointed, but the flavor made up for it-it had true bread flavor.

So, I don't know- maybe I'll make these again. I really like the use of the pate fermente and it was very cool to shape baguettes. However, the crumb was really disappointing, and for taking two days and substantial hands on time, I felt cheapened.



Janknitz's picture

I like your blog a lot and plan to be a regular visitor.  Your passion for bread and interest in the topic really comes through.  It will be fun to see what develops as the year goes on. 

I am impressed with your focus, determination, and writing skills!  I have a daughter who is also a senior in high school. 

Best of luck to you. 

em120392's picture

i appreciate your comment very much! =] i hope to make it through the entire book by then! thanks so much for reading my blog. 


cpanza's picture

Hi Emily,

We just started a BBA challenge here:

We're doing #2 this weekend. If you'd like to join up, feel free!

Happy baking.


em120392's picture

thanks chris for the offer! this is a very cool project your undertaking! i'll definitely follow the 2011 BBA challenge!

Matt H's picture
Matt H

Don't feel cheapened! Or cheated... You can't expect perfection the first time! A loaf of homemade bread warm from the oven is usually rewarding even if it's not like the ones from the bakery.

It's so nice to see young people doing positive things, and you're a talented writer Emily. Looking forward to more posts!

em120392's picture

Thanks so much for your encouragement, matt! you're right, any homemade bread is good bread, especially with butter. =]

Jo_Jo_'s picture

I am very impressed with your drive to learn more about something that you seem to have a passion for.  I anticipate that you will learn a lot of very useful skills here.  If you want to improve your baguette shaping skills etc look through the videos etc, such as Marks at  He has a lot of videos out and actually has some that can be purchased, and I have found them really informative.  I watched this one in amazement as he rolled the  dough up so firmly and gently and you can see the air bubbles under the surface.  Hope you enjoy it....


PS:  Just realized he has a blog here too:

em120392's picture

wow! his videos for shaping loaves are perfect! i love how he practices with a towel too. =]

i'm hoping that this project will expose me to breads i'd never try without The Bread Baker's Apprentice. i'm also interning at a bakery, and i'm learning all about different doughs and tools!

anyway, thank you so much for your comment, i really appreciate it! =]

mdunham21's picture

I also tackled the french baguette from Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb today.  I have turned this into a 3 day event, making the pre-ferment on Friday, mixing the dough this afternoon, retarding in the refrigerator over night, and baking tomorrow.  I have a love for rustic Italian breads and classic French breads alike, so I have not tackled many of the BBA's recipes.  However, I will be starting the BBA challenge later this month.  

Always learn from what you do, do not get discouraged, life is all an experiment, and baking is a labor of love.

Happy baking,



em120392's picture

Matthew, thanks so much for your encouraging words, I really appreciate them.

You must post how the French bread from Crust and Crumb turned out! Three days must make for an extremely flavorful bread. Good luck with the BBA- I'm sure it's going to be fun!

Thanks again,



mdunham21's picture


I haven't posted anything about my three day baguettes because I have been busy baking since this morning (bagels among other things).  However, you can check out my blog which has pictures of another batch of baguettes I made the previous day.