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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BBAC - Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

I love a challenge. When I’m presented with a task, I’m going to complete it. Maybe I’m stubborn like that. Actually, yes, I’m very stubborn. I’ve been told this several times in the past. When I first got to grad school, I was nervous. It was the first time in my life that I was living away from home. I lived at home the entire time I was in college, it was free and only five miles away from school. Moving fourteen hours away from my parents, brother and boyfriend was hard. Every few days I sat thinking “Why am I here? Was this a good idea?”

Luckily I made friends and came to discover that every other first year grad student was thinking the same thing.  Even those who had gone to undergraduate far from home were questioning their decision to come to grad school. The first year of grad school was tough. Challenging classes, the stress of finding the right group to join and teaching teenagers freshman chemistry, it just all piled on. Some people cracked, it’s a lot of pressure. Most people succeeded and we were stronger for it.

Making it to the fifth qualifier, our official anniversary, was so uplifting. Completing our first year in grad school was just the first of many hurdles we would have to overcome, that first year hardened us. From there on out we would present seminars, defend original research proposals, write papers and get scooped. Getting scooped is always the worst.

In the back of my mind I always knew that I could finish what I started. It might start off a little shaky, uneasy of the strange new ground I was walking, but every challenge makes me stronger. Each step becoming more steady, until that goal is accomplished. Triumph!

So what is the challenge that I’m talking about today? The Bread Bakers Apprentice challenge! I started a few months ago with the Anadama bread. It turned out well, but being new to yeast, it wasn’t perfect. Later, I celebrated my gram with Cinnamon bread. A fitting tribute to many days spent in her home as a child. This year I plan to finish this challenge. Forty recipes in fifty-two weeks, here is the first one of the year. And it is going to be a hard one to surpass, absolutely delicious.

The cranberry-walnut celebration bread can be found on page 154 of Peter Reinhart’s Bread Bakers Apprentice (also on several other bloggers webpage). I made no changes to the recipe and it was absolutely delicious. I wound up eating the whole loaf in a matter of days. Yep, just me, one person, ate the whole loaf. It was amazing as French toast and great slathered in butter as an evening snack. The double braid was a kick to make and made the bread look gorgeous. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
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