Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Little Background

For those of you who might not be familiar with cookbook challenges, here is a brief introduction. The idea is a group of people get together, typically over the Internet, with the goal of working through a cookbook with each cook making each recipe in the book. The group determines the pace and order of the recipes---perhaps one recipe a week starting at the beginning of the book, or two or three recipes a month jumping around within the book. It is collaborative in that the members encourage one another and discuss the difficulties they encounter.

The first challenge I entered was the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge (at with the goal working through all of the recipes in Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". I signed up for this challenge, and, in fact did bake my way through the book. But I never actually got around to creating a blog or a website to track my progress though the book.

I've set this blog up to track my progress for the Hamelman Challenge (at, a challenge set up to work through the recipes in Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes". I hope to do better this time around, but I'm already seriously behind. The challenge has been going since March, and while I've been baking I haven't been writing. Until I've caught up, I plan to enter what I currently baking and going back and filling in with occasional entries what I've already done.

My goal is to bake each recipe at least twice. The first time I plan to follow the recipe closely. The second time through, I will either address any problems I encountered or play with the recipe adapting it to my preferences.

(By the way if you are interested in other challenges, there is one for Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Breads for Everyday" (at I think it is probably a little late to join this one. I was a volunteer recipe tester for this book so I've already pretty much done all the recipes in the book. Another that you might consider is for Nick Malgieri's "Modern Baker" (at I seriously considered entering this challenge, but the pace is a bit slow, the cookbook doesn't have weights for ingredients, they are going through the book in order its written, and I'm more interested in bread. For now, I'll stick to Hamelman.)

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