Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Break bread with us...

Beth: What the heck is the great plot? Susan sent me like two lines: "…baking bread… the three of us" And then she went away.

Kevin: The plot is a joint project between the three of us.

Susan: This was the original message I sent Kevin:

I had an idea yesterday about doing a bread baking thing/ongoing project/whatever with you and maybe Beth if she's interested, but then I realized I was already over my head with commitments, so I didn't tell you about it. Oops.

Beth: That does sound interesting. We have so much fun talking about bread, we really should let others join in. But I actually need to jump offline right now and make pizza to go on the 500 degree baking stone in my oven. Send me mail and we can talk about this's a very cool idea!

Susan: Oh sure, now you leave.

An hour passes...the pizza was excellent.

Kevin: While you were eating pizza, we decided that we could create a blog called "A Year in Bread." One type of bread a month, we each do a recipe, then we discuss our efforts online. It should be very focused, and yet very personal.

Beth: This could be so much fun! Remember when you started baking bread and how nice it was to have someone to talk to about bread?

Kevin: I was about 14 the first time I baked bread. It was a 100% whole wheat brick.

Beth: Ouch.

Kevin: You could have built a house if you had enough of them.

Beth: Hey, I need raised beds built for my garden—you could bake me some. My first bread was challah.

Susan: Was it brick challah? I baked croissant bricks when I was in high school. That seven hour disappointing experience made me terrified of yeast for 10 years.

Beth: No, but then challah is very forgiving. I also stuck with 50% whole wheat for the first few years, until I had a clue what the heck I was doing.

Kevin: Ahem. Back to business. So every month we pick one kind of bread and each of us makes it in turn.

Beth: Do we all use the same recipe, or do we each use our own?

Susan: Doing the same recipe might be interesting…but if we each do our own, then people can try three different approaches to the same thing and see how different recipes actually work.

Beth: Yeah—it will be like having a series of intensives on a dozen kinds of bread.

Kevin: We can still bake each others' recipes if we want. Kind of as extra credit--and as a basis for explaining why our own recipe is superior of course. So...which breads?

A lot has happened since those first chats. Suddenly 12 months seems short. There are so many breads to bake—and so much more to bread than just recipes and baking.

We've had discussions about yeast and flour and how to measure them. We declared whose bread baking books we love and whose we don't like much, followed by a round of confessions of cookbook neglect. (I'm sure that each of us said "Oh! I have a copy of that…but I never use it" at least once. Hopefully we can do something about that.)

We argued the merits of mixing dough by hand or machine, organic ingredients vs. not, whether it's better to try a dozen different recipes or make the same recipe a dozen times—and quickly realized our blog will need to have a special rant section (as well as some serious bread porn).

We all agreed that we should cover sandwich breads, hamburger buns, and rolls that are good for summer barbeques. Then there are sweet rolls, as well as more rustic breads such as a pain a la ancienne and foccacia. Sourdough is a must, as are fancier breads such as challah, baguettes, and brioche. Baking with whole grains will definitely need
to be covered.

Some months we'll do three different recipes, and other months we'll take a pass at the same recipe, such as that now infamous NY Times No-knead bread. But where to start?

Susan: Pizza!

Beth: Hey! I already said pizza—forever ago in a chat.

Kevin: And I was about to.

Susan: That's why we should do pizza first—because it's simple and not as intimidating as bread. Plus everybody loves pizza.

Kevin: Yeah, and when you think of pizza as bread, you get the best pizza.

Three passionate bakers, 12 months, 36 recipes--and more fun than should probably be allowed in the kitchen. Come bake bread with us.


Labels: ,


Blogger Joanna said...

FANTASTIC ... I can't wait


3/21/2007 5:05 AM  
Anonymous expat said...

Bring it on!!!!

3/21/2007 7:01 AM  
Anonymous ~DanaB~ said...

Game On! My pizza stone and pizza peel await--WHOOHOO!

I put the 'Year In Bread' tagamathingy on my blog, I'm so excited!


3/21/2007 7:15 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I've got dough for the first pizza rising right now!

You'll see each primary recipe post on Thursday of each week to give you time to read it and collect any ingredients you may need and the weekend to bake. And we'll be posting other tips and related recipes as they occur to us and we have time.

3/21/2007 7:27 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Can you do this if you don't have a Kitchen Aid?? Or should I skip the house payment this month and buy one??? *G*

3/21/2007 7:42 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I can't wait - I love to bake bread, and this is just the motivation I need to keep at it (even with three kids sticking fingers into the dough). Eagerly waiting for tomorrow's pizza post!

3/21/2007 8:01 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Me again. I tried to confirm my subscription and it said I'd either already confirmed or that the link was incorrect. I hope I'm on the mailing list.

3/21/2007 8:04 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

All of the breads can be made by hand. As for you subscription, I checked and don't see a recent Susan in the list. Send me your email address and location and I'll get you entered.

I taught a pizza-making class for kids last summer that was really popular.

3/21/2007 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Robin said...

I was so inspired when you proposed this idea I've bee baking for a week solid. AND FINALLY keeping a journal of what I've done. Don't know if it's the attention to detail or the journal, but I'm already seeing improvement in my loaves. Looking forward to the pizza trials...I even bought a new long handled peel just for the occasion! I'm ready to be covered in flour dust!

3/21/2007 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

There are some seriously bread-deprived folks in the blogosphere based on the number of responses to the original post. I am really looking forward to this, and all the wealth of information to be shared!

3/21/2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger Brin said...

I am so psyched about a "year in bread"! Truly! My oven stands at the ready...

Thanks for taking this on, and letting us in on your expertise and knowledge. (This is way better... and cheaper!... than culinary school.)

BTW - Susan, I baked your Oat Toasting Bread on Sunday. Divine! The pics on my blog have gotten rave reviews...

Woo-hoo... bread!


3/21/2007 9:16 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Waiting with baited bread breath (trying saying that 3 times!). I hope to teach a bread "camp" this summer for our internet forum group, so bring on the tips and helps.

3/21/2007 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Brilliant first choice! Especially because I do NOT yet have my pizza mojo down.

Help me, Obi-wan-kenobi. (the three of you).

And hey--in the email I got today, the links did not work. I use a mac mail application, with html enabled. But i hope that can be fixed. I had to search around to find you a bit. (It was worth it).

Andrea at Rookie Cookery

3/21/2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Sacred Suzie said...

I'm in! This is going to be so much fun. I love baking and bread is still very much a mystery to me.

3/21/2007 11:37 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

"AND FINALLY keeping a journal of what I've done."

Good for you. I've never been able to do that.

"There are some seriously bread-deprived folks in the blogosphere based on the number of responses to the original post."

We hoped...

Good to see you here. And Woo-hoo indeed!

"I hope to teach a bread 'camp' this summer for our internet forum group"

Very cool!

"And hey--in the email I got today, the links did not work."

The problem seems to be with our subscription service.

Sacred Suzie,
All the in people are here.{g}

3/21/2007 1:46 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Gee Kevin, I would HOPE you have the dough rising! Have you seen all the hordes of people waiting out here? Look hungry too!

Susan (and others) you can absolutely do these without a KA. Heck, I even do bagels, which have the world's stiffest dough, by hand...err wand.

3/21/2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

This is going to be great fun...and a lot cheaper than trying to pay for these classes at a certain Flour company near me - even though I will be using their flour.

Even talked two of my buddies into joining up - Susan and Sacred, we are here to learn!

3/21/2007 3:09 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

"I would HOPE you have the dough rising!"

Patience, my dear, patience. I will serve no pizza before its time.

3/21/2007 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have prosciutto, mozzarello, parmesan, peppers, mushrooms, for toppings. How does that sound? If we don't want to use a tomato sauce, what else works? I did eat a pizza once that had honey and curry spice brushed on the dough. It had roasted peppers, onions and grilled chicken with mozzarella. I am looking for something a little different, but not so much my husband won't eat it. ha judyinknoxville

3/21/2007 4:36 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

..a great idea..thanks to the three of you for conceiving it and getting it going...!

3/21/2007 6:54 PM  
Anonymous yahaira said...

for some reason pizza dough is my Achilles heel...
I can't wait to see what you guys come up with

3/21/2007 10:38 PM  
Anonymous kristin said...

your site looks like a lot of fun.
can't wait to pick up a few breadmaking tips.

3/22/2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Anon, that sounds like a great collection of pizza toppings - and it's not like there are rules! (well, there are but it's not like we follow them!) I've used pesto instead of red pizza sauce and been very happy with the results.That honey+ pizza sounds amazing!

Stephen, Thanks! We're having way more fun than should be allowed, ya know...

Yahaira, with any luck, you'll find a recipe that works for you here. Make sure you try them and let us know how it goes. We're here to help!

Kristin, me too!

3/22/2007 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on the pesto, I have some in the freezer I made end of last summer. I will sure try that on my pizza. I did buy a jar of bruchetta instead of regular tomato sauce, and it was quite tasty, and more like fresh tomato. I will definitely do that again. I really liked this dough. I have used honey in bread before but not in pizza dough, and never that much olive oil. I liked the way it felt, and it proofed beautifully. I will definitely use it again. judyinknoxville

3/22/2007 11:10 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...


Pesto is a great change, and homemade is particularly wonderful. There are so many things you can do with pizza - I used to get this white chicken pizza that used a bechamel sauce instead of tomato and blue cheese as part of the blend. Was that ever good!

I'm glad to hear everyone is loving Kevin's pizza crust. He's going to be a tough act to follow!

3/23/2007 2:28 AM  
Anonymous ginger said...

Anon: If you heat a bit of olive oil with crushed garlic and some crushed red pepper to infuse the oil with flavor, let it cool and then brush it on the dough before the toppings, it is divine! Also, just some fresh chopped tomatoes are pretty good under the toppings!

Have you tried the Kalamata bread yet? Just wondering. I have not yet tried the Pullman recipe but it is on the list!

3/30/2007 9:11 AM  
Blogger ejm said...

I hope it isn't too late to add a comment to this post...

I don't know if you have already decided which recipes you'll be making during your year in bread but just in case the answer is no, I have a request for you to explore Portuguese corn bread (not the sweet Easter bread). It is made with corn flour, all-purpose flour, water, yeast and salt - possibly sugar too.

It's a wonderful moist dense loaf that is terrific with grilled sardines. It makes really good toast too.

I have not yet been successful in my attempt at making it...


4/28/2007 8:41 AM  
Blogger FeR said...

i'm an extremely late bloomer in terms of baking (especially with bread because am afraid of the using yeast part - don't know why) but I'm so glad to have found this website!


2/25/2008 12:47 AM  

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