Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Babeiversary: Three Years of Breads, Bitchin' and Buddies

Well, well, well...

How time flies when you're having fun with twelve plus crazy women all wearing embroidered panties and aprons, up to your elbows in wet dough, wine, scotch, brandy, and the King Arthur flour catalog; not to mention changing jobs/careers (Karen, Gretchen, Sara, me), having a baby (Sara), getting married (Gretchen), becoming a grandmother (Tanna x 2, Lynn), losing a spouse (me), losing a beloved pet (Natashya, Katie), losing a sister (All of us when we lost Sher), losing our minds (all of us from time to time), moving homes (Gorel, Gretchen, Sara, and me), building a house in the Northern Michigan woods (Tanna), building a house in France (Katie), remodeling a house (Karen), building a brick oven in the backyard (Susan). Well, you get the picture...

In the past three years this little band of sisters has done a lot both in the kitchen and out of the kitchen but the one constant has been every month since February 2008, a bread has been baked in most of our ovens.

We've had some fantastic successes with the Royal Crown Tortano, Poilane style Miche, Challah, Asparagus Bread, Potato Bread with Chives, and Sweet Portuguese Bread. We've had some challenges with the Crocodrillo, Russian Black Bread, Gluten Free No Knead Hearty Seeded Sandwich Bread, and the Yeasted Sprouted Wheat Bread. We've experienced international breads many of us had never tried or heard of with Ethiopian Injera, Sukerbolle, Sukkar bi Tahin, and Broa (Portuguese Corn Bread). We've had fun shaping with the Yule Wreath, Tanta Wawa, Viennese Striesel, and the Cornucopia.

To celebrate the Babes three year anniversary, I took advantage of a few down weeks at home in my Connecticut kitchen to pick one bread from each of the three years to make again or in the case of the last one, for the first time.

3 yr badge

During our first year, the one bread that struck fear in the hearts of all us and still sends shivers down the spines of my sisters was the uber-wet dough Crocodrillo.


This bread not only was the wettest dough we've tackled to date (and tackling is the operative word when you are chasing dough off the end of the counter) but it also ended up one of the most satisfying when you got it right and out of the oven. The taste and the texture with the crispy, chewy crust and the large holes in the dough made all the cursing, crying, and pleading worth it.

In the second year, we made a bread sold on the streets of Beirut, the Sukkar bi Tahin. It surprised me when I sat down to pick the three breads that I was going to make for this post that this one kept popping up to the top of my mind. I wasn't a huge fan of the bread when I made it in July 2009, mainly because I'm not a big fan of tahini except in hummus. But when I made it this time I was blown away by how wonderful the bread was. I did stray from the recipe by shaping the dough into one large serpent shaped loaf but the result was stunning.


My office mates were also impressed because exactly ten minutes after I announced at the Monday morning project meeting the bread was on the cutting board in the kitchen, the last piece was consumed.

In the third year of Babe breads, I have to admit there are several breads I missed baking owing to job schedules and some other life changes (i.e. golf), I left our collective kitchen to go on hiatus. So, I decided to bake one of the breads I missed for this anniversary post. Having been itching to use my brotform for several months, I decided the dough and bread from 2010 that best suited the wicker shape was the Broa: Portuguese Corn Bread.


Like my revisit to the Sukkar bi Tahan, this bread surprised me with how much I loved it. It reminded me in taste and texture to my beloved Anadama bread. I admit, I ate about half the loaf at various meals before I finally took the remaining loaf into the office. It too was devoured by my fellow workers and already, I'm hearing rumbling to make it again. It won't be hard to twist my arm in that regards.

Of all the things the past three years that we Babes have enjoyed it has been inviting you, our readers (if I have any left) into our collective kitchen every month as Bread Baking Buddies.

So, this month there isn't a single bread that we are baking and inviting you to bake with us but rather there are thirty-seven! That's right, if you would like to help us celebrate three years of Babe Bread Baking, we would like you to select one of the breads in the below to bake, blog about and then email our host kitchen, our founder and den mother, Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups) with a link to your post by Feb. 29. She'll email you a little something-something for your blog!

BBB Breads 2008 Collage
2008 (from left to right) February: Karen Royal Crown Tortano (in Dutch) and in English:
March: Lien Coccodrillo
April: Tanna Sullivan Street Pizza
May: Sher - Poilane-Style Miche
June: Mary Breadchick's Dark Onion Rye
July: - in memory of Sher who passed away July 20 2008; this month we made something from her blog, something that reminded us of the warm and witty personality Sher was. The news of her passing shocked us. She is our Angel Babe.
August: Ilva Whole Wheat Pita
September : Monique Sûkerbôlle
October : Sara Challah
November: Görel The Rosendal Crisp Bread
December: Lynn Yule Wreath

In our second year, the loaves of 2009;
BBB Breads 2009 Collage
2009 (from left to right): January Katie Croissants
February Tanna Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Nod (Five-Grain Bread with Walnuts)
March Sara Pane Francese
April Mary Ethiopian Injera
May Ilva Pane di Pasta Tenera Condita (Italian Knot Bread)
June Lien Asparagus Bread (in English and Dutch)
July Natashya Sukkar bi Tahin (Beirut Tahini Swirls)
August Görel Russian Black Bread
September Karen Chinese Flower Steam Buns
October Gretchen Tanta Wawa (Peruvian Bread Babies)
November Monique Brioche Mousseline
December Katie Viennese Striesel

And our third year 2010;
BBB Breads 2010 Collage
2010 (from left to right) January Lynn Curried Naan
February Karen Ensaimada
March Mary Gluten Free No Knead Hearty Seeded Sandwich Bread
April Sara Potato Bread with Chives
May Natashya Tunisian Spicy Breads
June Lien Korni (in English and Dutch)
July Lynn Yeasted Sprouted Wheat Bread
August Tanna Sweet Portuguese Bread
September Görel Brunkans Långa
October Elizabeth Broa: Portuguese Corn Bread
November Susan Cornucopia
December Ilva Taralli Pugliesi

And finally, just this past month

January: Astrid Hildegard's Spelt Bread

Now, I'm going to get a little sappy here so you might want to go grab a box of tissue. I want to take a few words to thank my Babe sisters for all the love and support of the past three years while I've made some major life changes including leaving the kitchen to pursue a dream of mine, to work on my golf game and get good enough to play serious competitive golf. You each have been so supportive of me and kept my spot on the back bench warm, a bottle of my Macallan 25 taped under the bench, sent me well wishes when I've been competing and helped pick me up when I've failed. I know I won't be joining you every month in the upcoming year but I also know that when I drop into the kitchen and the classroom from time to time, you will welcome me back with open arms. Ladies, may your yeast always bloom, your flour always stay dry, and your loaves always rise.

To go see what my Sisters, The Bread Baking Babes did this month to celebrate three years, go visit their blogs. You can find them over there on the side bar of this blog.