Abby Dodge, author of The Weekend Baker, has been holding a monthly #Baketogether over at her website where anyone can join in and bake the recipe posted for that specific month. What's especially nice about it is that she encourages participants to create their own versions of that recipe, which certainly makes for an interesting and exciting monthly affair. She decided to start off 2012's #Baketogether with the Peasant Boule, a circular, soft-crusted loaf of bread which is one of several yeasted delights you can find in her aforementioned book. I find the inclusion of a teaspoon and a half of baking powder to its flour mixture particularly intriguing.
Bread is really something I've been avoiding to make for a while now because of a few mishaps and failed attempts at making them in the past. But now, as a sort of baking resolution for 2012, I've decided to re-conquer my "fear" of making bread and try this bread baking endeavor once again. I also felt re-assured by what Abby wrote in her introduction to the Peasant Boule recipe basically saying that this bread is a very easy one to make even for the "yeast-challenged" (that's me!) and that this could even be potentially "life-altering" for the said yeast-challenged individual. Well, those two words were what convinced me to make this one!
I knew I should've baked the recipe verbatim first (something a yeast-challenged person should always do LOL) but I just couldn't resist doing my own twist to this bread -- a bold move inspired from reading the Peasant Boule tweaks made by the other #Baketogether participants.
I love both honey bread and molasses bread so for my take on the Peasant Boule, I decided to add these ingredients (1/2 cup honey and 1/4 blackstrap molasses) to the recipe as well as a little cocoa powder (1 tbsp) to intensify the color further. I also replaced some of the all-purpose flour (now just 2 cups unbleached) with unbleached whole wheat flour (1 1/3 cups) to make the bread more dense. For added texture, I generously coated each roll with uncooked polenta or corn grits. Also, instead of melting the 2 tablespoons of butter and brushing it to the surface of the bread, I only softened it to room temperature and added it directly to the flour mixture which to me, gave the bread a richer flavor. The amount of liquid and everything else stayed the same but I think because of the honey and molasses, the mixture became really sticky and stayed that way even after mixing for longer than the stated time in the mixer. In turn, I had to coat my hands and the dough itself with a little flour while handling the dough. It got better though after I coated the rolls with the polenta. I initially intended to make batards with this but since the dough wouldn't hold its shape on its own, I decided to just use a muffin pan and place about 60 grams of dough in each mold. They turned out really yummy looking that way and even gives you a crunchy crust with each bite.
It only took a little less than 20 minutes for these to bake and they're so yummy eaten just fresh out of the oven. I had 2 pieces right away and one more a few minutes later LOL. I especially recommend slathering it with a little whipped butter before each bite!
This is what the crumb looks like. Somehow, it looks really black in the photos but it's really just dark brown.
Now that I know how easy it is to make this bread, I'm planning to bake the recipe as it's written by this week. As much as I love the taste of what I made (definitely a version I'll make again since my husband just ate 5 of these today) I'm also quite curious to know how the real Peasant Boule tastes like. I'm sure it's really, really good!
Many thanks to Abby Dodge for posting this recipe for the January 2012 #Baketogether. I think I will be baking more bread from now on! :)