Friday, June 24, 2011


Just realized it's almost two years since I last posted - where does the time go? Still bake two or three times a week however. Earlier this year my bread machine finally failed after several years of weekly use. Not bad for a machine bought used at a resale shop. Would really like a Zojirushi but they are beyond my budget. Did find a West Bend two blade machine that is similar and bakes a rectangular loaf. Much more affordable on Amazon so that is my replacement.

Most recently I've been working with biga.Nearly titled this post The Biga the Better but thought better of it. Once again, Linda Eckhardt and Dianna Butts' book Rustic European Breads for the Bread Machine has been my inspiration. They have an Italian Winter Biga that is simply:
  • 1/4 tsp bread machine yeast
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour
Add the yeast, water, flour and mix by hand until hydrated in a large plastic container. Cover and let sit for a minimum of ten hours. If you don't use it all, refrigerate the balance for up to two weeks and use as a starter for another batch later.

They have four recipes using this biga!

Como Bread - based on 3C bread flour and 1/2C of whole wheat for 1 1/2lb loaf, this classic northern Italian bread is moist and chewy inside with a crisp crust and keeps well just wrapped in a tea towel. Direct substiution of rye flour for the whole wheat makes an interesting alternative.

Pane All'uva - an Italian raisin bread with a similar texture to the Como Bread. For variety, I have substituted cranberries or chopped dates for the raisins, as well as golden raisins for regular. My personal favorite is the chopped dates.

Ciabatta - this has become my 'go to' recipe for both ciabatta bread and also for a ciabatta roll that I make by cutting the dough before the final rise into rectangles about 4 inches each side.

Raisin in the Rye Rolls - a wonderful combination of dark raisins with rye, these rolls can be eaten plain or with a smear of butter. The book recommends mashing 4ounces of goat cheese, Stilton, or mozzarella with 2 -3 tablespoons of creme fraiche or fresh cream and spreading this mix on the the split roll and adding additional raisins. Have not tried this but it should be excellent.

Jewish Rye bread is my current nemesis. Rustic European Breads has a recipe that looks good but every time I bake it the top collapses. Otherwise, it is a well flavored rye with caraway seeds and a great texture. Toasts well after the first day. Yesterday I found a recipe online for Rebecca's Jewish Rye Bread on The two recipes are similar except for the addition of some whole wheat flour and gluten with dried onion flakes as an option. Still get a top collapse but much less than the other recipe.

Today is a baking day, four Challah for the local Jewish Temple and a Como bread for the weekend. Until my next post don't forget - Friends don't let friends eat Wonder Bread.