As we're on the downhill slope of the Heavenly Cakes Bake-along, I've been thinking about another online baking project. French Fridays with Dorie almost seduced me, the Gutsy Cooks would keep up the connection with several HCBs (though I wasn't grabbed by the cookbook they are using), but I decided I was better off sticking with a baking emphasis. The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is out there, the cookbook (Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread) had been on my wish list for a while, so I decided to go for it.
Why not The Bread Bible, which I already owned? Size of project: BBA has 43 recipes or so, plus a few variations. The Bread Bible has 84 recipesand (I suspect) many more variations, and while I've done some baking from it, I have to confess that Rose's level of detail in some of those recipes may have crossed the line from helpful to 'I can't pick out the next step from all this verbiage'.
The main BBA Challenge started back in May 2009 with a rather different setup than some of the other Internet cooking groups. They don't bake together: each baker works on their own schedule. The only rule is that they bake all the recipes in BBA in the order presented in the book. The "in order" part may not get followed--we'll see. I first thought it was because the cookbook presented the recipes in some sort of logical order like requiring increasing skills, or contrasting different recipes, but it turns out that the recipes are presented in (wait for it)....alphabetical order. That rather changes my perception about the basic premise of the BBA Challenge from "has a purpose related to baking" to "akin to fraternity initiation ritual".
OK, small digression there, sorry.
The BBA Challenge quickly got too large for a "blog roll" approach and was frozen at 200 members. New joiners can just start baking, and post pictures, blog URLs, or questions to a Facebook group or a Flickr group. When they're done, they stop--rather like the Caucus Race from Alice in Wonderland, really. There's a new BBA Challenge 2011 group, just started this week, that is trying to do a more structured approach of bread a week, but I'm still uncertain about the "do 'em in order" thing so I'm debating whether to join.
Anyway, I may not bake these in order, though I did start with the first one today. I'll make another post with the list of breads and try to keep it updated as I bake.