Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BBA CHALLENGE: A setback and a move forward

If, by chance, you are a person involved with the bread baking challenge offered by Nicole Hamaker of Pinch My Salt, and you have been checking here to see how the bread is turning out in my kitchen, you have undoubtedly been left with the impression that I am either a person with a bad attitude about bread or maybe that I am the laziest person in the world. Or perhaps that I am a disgruntled and uninspired dough-kneader. Or that my arms suddenly fell off, I don't know.

At any rate, you might have noticed that I haven't posted a bread recipe ever since the first week's Anadama bread.

Here's the thing: We don't have any money, so I can't afford to buy the book, which is The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. And my local library does have a copy, but the person who checked it out has not brought it back yet and even renewed it for another month when it recently came due. I believe she must be clutching it to her chest in her warm, bread-scented kitchen and cackling wickedly because she can see on the library's website that I have placed a hold on the book and am most urgently waiting for a call from the circulation desk. Whoever she is, she is really hurting my feelings.

The book is not expensive, so I think I may buy it with my birthday money at the end of June, and then join Kayte and a group of her friends as they bake their way through Peter's book at a slower pace. Nicole has been extremely understanding of the demands of everyone's schedule, so the BBA Challenge group is very loosely formed: there are no deadlines, no pictures to post, no quotas to meet. So I feel that I can just jump back in and start baking when things sort themselves out around here.

In the meantime, Kayte forwarded a recipe for Pane di Pasta Tenera Condita (Italian Knot Bread) that a friend of hers formatted into a Word document with pictures and everything. Everything I would need to bake this lovely bread! Except, maybe, for a CLUE. Because the recipe is all grammy and millilitery and asking me for things like 0.88 ounces of honey and then there's this little paragraph, which made me temporarily black out:

30 g fresh yeast (this is what I found: 18 grams of fresh yeast = 7-10 grams of active dry yeast = about 4-6 grams of instant yeast, I don't dare calculate it right now.)

What does that even mean?! Is it in English? Is Kayte trying to punk me? Because all I want to know is this: Can I just rip open a little packet of Fleishmann's yeast and dump it into the lukewarm water or not?

When I got to the instruction which read "add 450-550 ml/ 1,9-2,3 cup water, finger warm," I began to suck the ends of my hair and mutter, like Goldie Hawn in Overboard, "Buh buh buh-buh-buh...."

This recipe, thank heaven, is not part of the actual BBA Challenge curriculum and it's a good thing because I honestly don't think I can do it. I like my cooking to be a more organic sort of experience involving regular measuring cups and measuring spoons and my favorite mixing bowl. I don't want to have to haul out the digital scale I used to use for soapmaking. That sucks all the fun right out of it for me, I find, and I think I'll do better with simpler recipes. I'm sure my results won't be as spectacular, but really, all I ask of my bread is that my family can place some deli turkey on its snowy white breast, or spread some good butter on it, and eat it with the honesty and total lack of imagination that behooves our solid peasant stock.

I'm going to check around on the internet and see if I can find a recipe for Greek celebration bread, which was the second assignment in the BBA Challenge. Obviously, it won't be Peter Reinhart's recipe, but at least I'll be able to say that I'm doing something instead of sitting here feeling intimidated by Italian bread.


Katya said...

You may be ahead of me here, but have you tried looking at the Google Books preview for BBA? It has many of the recipes.

Also, if you are interested, I'm happy to email you any recipes you're missing while you wait.

Shelley said...

Katya, that is so nice of you!

I didn't know about the Google Books preview for BBA. I'll go look that up. Let me see how that goes, and if I am too stupid to find the book/recipes there, I will take you up on your offer to email.

THANKS a thousand times!

Kayte said...

Those Italian Knot rolls were KNOT worth making. I tossed the recipe. I made it twice and could not get it to work or taste like much, we all said, "Ditch it." I can't figure out what everyone was raving about. My recommendation: toss the recipe.