Friday, January 6, 2012

Sourdough seed rye: Mellow Bakers finale

Well here we are at the end! (again) When I was nearing the end of the BBA Challenge and wondering, "What in the heck am I going to do without a new bread to bake every week?!" Paul suggested a Mellow group...a group of bakers who would spend two years baking through Jeffrey Hamelman's amazing book Bread. Even though I wasn't quite finished with the BBA, I happily jumped on board.

And here we are...94 weeks and 64 breads later.

I've thoroughly enjoyed participating on the ever-helpful Mellow Bakers forum and meeting so many wonderful bread bakers. And of course trying so many new bread formulas and techniques. I feel like the BBA introduced me to bread baking and taught me so many basics. Baking through Bread turned me into a bread baker. My confidence has improved a ton, as well as my knowledge, and not many recipes intimidate me anymore.

My top recipes from the book (all of which have been made repeatedly) are:

There is some talk on the forum about choosing a new book and starting a new challenge. At this point, I think I will probably purchase whichever book is picked so that I can bake along occasionally, but I will not plan to bake my way through another bread book. My family is really excited about the possibility of getting to pick their past favorites and have me actually be willing to bake them again because I'm not so worried about finishing breads for a challenge! :) And I'm excited to be able to bake things that look/sound good from various sources.

So the last bread I baked was actually a December bread that I missed with all of the holiday baking last month. Having just made the roasted garlic (which hubby says makes the most excellent eggs in a nest, FYI) and the 66% sourdough rye, and knowing how anti-seed breads my kiddos are, I only made a 1/4 of the recipe, enough for one small loaf. I made the levain and the flax seed soaker late at night, and then mixed the dough together after work on Friday (bread flour, rye flour, toasted sesame and sunflower seeds, the flax seed soaker, the levain, salt, and water). The dough was quite wet, but developed a lot of strength after two stretch-and-folds. (Never one to let bread dough get in the way of life, this bread actually came with us to the Children's Museum. It had a lot of fun watching the kids play, and I folded it at 50 minute intervals...after thoroughly washing my hands of course!) :) Once we got home, I shaped it into a round loaf and, as JH recommends, left it in the fridge for an overnight rest. Surprisingly, it took the full 40 minutes to bake the small loaf; I'm guessing because it was still cold from the fridge. The bread is quite dense, with excellent flavor from the toasted seeds.

bread dough playing at the Children's Museum


  1. Oh you star in the baking firmament! Well done you! I have made the garlic this weekend and hoping to do the five grain and one of the semolinas by the end of the month. It has been a pleasure and a joy to have your company on the Bread trail. Hope we stay in touch :)

    If you get bored get a copy of Short and Sweet and bake along with the twitter #shortandtweet group. Lots of lovely goodies in that book. We've only been going a little while. LOL Joanna xx

    1. Oh, I've really been wanting to get Short &'s on my wish list! :) Everything you've been posting from there looks so good. Have loved baking with you as well!! What a great group. :)

  2. I was going to say you are crazy (only based on your taking the bread to play at Children's Museum, of course), but I like "star in the baking firmament" much better. Delivered like the line in "Singing in the Rain," of course. Love you.

  3. I love that you've taken to carting dough around with you when necessary. I haven't tired that yet. Congratulations on finishing the book!

  4. Love the traveling bread dough show are so funny with that. Your breads always look so wonderful. It has been such fun seeing them all and reading about them as you went along. Congratulations on finishing. Now, what can we have you do next...I know: Baking with Julia! Yep.

  5. HOW did I miss the traveling bread dough post?? Abby, you are too funny!! And a great example for the rest of us bakers!!

    Bread looks great - must be all that extra learning experience!!

  6. Wow! I remember when you started Mellow Bakers because I was thinking of starting BBA. Has it been two years?! I guess so. I just finished BBA so I'll check out the forum and see what they decide. I'd love to bake bread more and doing it with a group vs solo would be fun.