Friday, 26 March 2010

Roasted Onion & Asiago Miche: BBA

I finally reached the end of the BBA Challenge! The 43rd and final bread in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice is Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche.

Wow! What a way to end! The last bread in the Bread Baker's Apprentice is another extraordinary bread from Bennett Valley Bread and Pastry Bakery. This is a huge and very flavorful bread made with roasted onions, chives, scallions and cheese.  It has a thin and crispy crust on the outside and a soft and flavorful crumb on the inside.  Delish!

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This bread usually takes 3 days to make; however, it took me a total of 5 days to make both loaves. I baked the first loaf on the 4th day and the 2nd loaf on the 5th day.  Originally, I was going to halve the recipe because the loaves are huge, but then I changed my mind.  I decided to give most of the 1st loaf to my main taste tester.  He didn’t get to try the Potato, Cheddar & Chive Torpedos so I thought it was only fair that he got his share of this one.  He really liked it!

To make this bread, you begin by making the sponge one day before making the dough and 2 days before baking the bread (or 3 days before making the bread in my case).

Making the Sponge

To make the sponge, mix together the starter, water, and flour in a bowl until the flour is completely hydrated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

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Ferment at room temperature for 8 hours, or until the sponge is very bubby.  If it is a cool day and the sponge is fermenting slowly, you can leave it out overnight (which is what I did).  Then put it in the refrigerator.

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Remove the sponge from the refrigerator about 1 hour before making the dough to take off the chill. 

While the sponge is resting on the counter, roast or sauté the onion and set aside.  Or, you can do this the day before, which is what I did.


Making the Dough

To make the dough, stir together the flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and the sponge and stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the dough forms a ball.

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Let sit for 5 minutes. Then add the salt and olive oil and stir to distribute.  I did this by hand and it was pretty tricky getting the salt and the olive oil mixed it.  I literally used my hands.

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Add half of the grated cheese (I used parmesan) and all of the chives and scallions.

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Transfer the dough to a counter sprinkled with flour.

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Knead the dough for about 4 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed, adding additional flour as needed to make a soft, tacky, but not sticky dough.

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Fermenting the Dough

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. 

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough nearly doubles in size.

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Shaping the Dough

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, mist with spray oil, and dust with cornmeal.

Dust the counter with flour and transfer the dough from the bowl to the counter, taking care not to degas the dough. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

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Gently shape them into large boules. Place a round of dough on each pan.  Mist the dough with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Place the pans in the refrigerator overnight.

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Proofing the Loaves

Remove the pan from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake.  You can hold them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, baking each pan on a different day which is what I did.  Proof the dough for approximately 2 hours at room temperature.

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Baking the Loaves

Prepare the oven for hearth baking by placing a baking stone on the middle rack and a steam pan underneath.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil.

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Using your fingertips, make dimples all over the dough, pressing almost to the bottom of the loaf and creating a series of ridges and pockets all over the surface.

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Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top of each loaf.

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Divide the roasted onion pieces into 2 portions and evenly distribute them over the top of the cheese.  Let the dough rest for 15 to 30 minutes.

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Transfer the loaves to the baking stone.  Pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan and close the door.  After 30 seconds, open the door, spray the walls of the oven with water, and close the door.  Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals.  After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.

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Rotate the bread 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes. 

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The bread should be golden brown and the cheese melted and brown. 

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The loaf should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.  If the cheese seems to brown, but you still need more baking time, cover the top with aluminum foil or a piece of baking parchment to protect the top.  I covered mine with aluminum foil but the onions still got a little charred. 

Transfer the finished bread to a rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving. 

Here it is!  A big, beautiful loaf of deliciousness!

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This is the crumb from the first loaf.

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Here is a close-up of the crumb from the 2nd loaf.  It was so good!  I really, really like this bread!

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That’s it for this bread!   

Wow!  Is the BBA Challenge really over?  It’s been a great ride!


Which breads are my favorites from the book?  Let me see…

Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread hands down is my very favorite enriched bread.  It’s beautiful as a braided bread and it tastes great, freezes great, and is great toasted! A very versatile bread indeed!

I also like (in alphabetical order, couldn’t rank them if I tried):


I want to thank Nicole of Pinch my Salt for creating the BBA Challenge and for bringing all of the wonderful bread bakers together around the world.  It’s been a wonderful and rewarding experience.

To all my fellow BBA Bakers, I wish you well and hope to continue seeing all of the wonderful bread and other goodies you’ll be baking.

So what’s next…

I bid farewell to the BBA Challenge, but look forward to new experiences with the Mellow Bakers Group and continuing baking with the HBinFive Group and canning with the tigress can jam

I’ve also got a few other surprises that I look forward to sharing with you so please come back for a visit soon.


Happy Baking!


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