8 Years and the BBBabes are Bien Cuit! (BBB February 2016)

go directly to the recipe

snow summary: recipe for Caramelized Onion Rye, based on a recipe in “Bien Cuit; using buckwheat; using a thermometer for water; new cookbook?; omissions; substitutions; anniversaries; there’s a new BBBabe in town; winter; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

BBB February 2016 Bread Baking Babes (BBB) February 2016: Caramelized Onion Bread

Bien Cuit Rye Tempus fugit!

And how! The BBBabes and BBBuddies have been baking together for eight years! Can that be right? Has it really been eight years?

For the last little while, our little group has only been twelve. Now, at last, we’re very happy to be back to being a Baker’s dozen: we welcome long time BBB-buddy, Kelly (A Messy Kitchen) into the BBBabes’ kitchen! Happy anniversary to us!

I was really excited that Tanna chose a dark beautiful savoury loaf for this year’s Anniversary bread. A loaf riddled with caramelized onions. I was also really thrilled that she told us to play with our lames.


  • Then she told us we were supposed to read ahead. Oh oh….

You would think that after all these years, I would have learned how to read, wouldn’t you? Hmmm… well, if you know me, maybe not…. :lalala:

And now I have a confession to make…. We weren’t convinced that caramelized onions would be a good idea in the bread so I decided to accidentally-on-purpose-forget to make/include caramelized onions. How’s that for being a bad BBBabe?!

Are you sitting comfortably? I hope so; I hope so. Here’s how this year’s anniversary bread making went:

BBB Bien Cuit’s Caramelized Onion Bread diary:

4 January 2016 at 01:30 Mmmmm… caramelized onion…..

J’adore caramelized onions! But inside the bread? Won’t it make the bread all gooshy?

Wow! That scoring looks amazing! I hope I can manage to achieve the curvy pattern on the front of the book!

28 January 2016 at 23:45 Did I read Tanna’s notes correctly? Is she saying that I’m supposed to read the recipe before I put the bread dough in the oven to proof? Surely not!!

I was hyperventilating when I thought I’d be introducing another gross sleep interruption by getting up at 3am to pre-heat and oven and put bread in the oven. When I slowed down and really did the addition I realized I had lucked out and could pre-heat and bake nicely between 6 and 10 am.
-Tanna, message to BBBabes

Yikes!!! Now I understand. (My reading skills kicked in momentarily and so I could comprehend the possible middle of the night baking time). Suddenly I am reminded of Julia Child:

Ye gods! But you’re not standing around holding it by the hand all this time. No. […] [T]he dough takes care of itself. […] While you cannot speed up the process, you can slow it down at any point by setting the dough in a cooler place […] then continue where you left off, when you are ready to do so. In other words, you are the boss of that dough.
– Julia Child, From Julia Child’s Kitchen

8 February 2016 at 16:54 I’m still trying to guess how to do that scoring. I wonder if it is simply curves that start from the center. (I googled for images but the only pages that might have the answers are on pinterest and because I don’t have a pinterest account, I can’t look at the pictures. :lalala:)

However, this text about scoring looks helpful:

The trick to a good tear in a sourdough is not to cut deep and cut at an angle as if you’re almost cutting a skin in the loaf and then creating an opening for the loaf to push itself through and thus creating the tear. […] If the dough hasn’t formed a dry skin it will drag but if the dough can be kept in atmosphere where surface dries then much easier to cut affectively. […] The best surface are [when the bread is] left to prove at room temperature and it’s a hot dry day, creating a lovely hard skin.”
– Azelia, Slashing or Scoring Your Dough, Azelia’s Kitchen

12 February, 16:11 I keep looking at the calendar and the fast approaching BBBabes’ anniversary date, comforting myself with my father’s motto “There’s plenty of time at noon”.

Yes, I’m delusional.

But just to show that I can plan ahead (sort of) too, I’ll just take an actual peek at the recipe.

125 grams (3/4 c + 2-1/2 tbsp) white rye flour
0.3 gram (generous pinch) instant yeast
125 grams (1/2 c + 1 tsp) water at about 60°F (15°C) […]
[L]et sit at room temperature for 10 to 14 hours. The starter will be at its peak at around 12 hours.
-BBB Bien Cuit Caramelized Onion Bread recipe

12 hours? For the starter? Okay okay!! I’m heading to the kitchen now!

Oh oh. I will have to pretend I didn’t notice the “white” before “rye flour” because we only have dark rye flour in the cupboard.

Oh dear, there’s more… 60F for the water? What’s up with that? I might also have to pretend I didn’t notice that part… But. Why not develop my reading skills a little to see if there’s an explanation?

Of course, I’m still No.12 of 12 holds at the library for Bien Cuit. So I read what I could on Amazon. How handy that so much of the introduction and explanation about various grains is there.

If there is one distinguishing element in [Zachary’s] baking it is his commitment to long, cold fermentation. He says it was the single most important discovery in his career. Letting yeast do its work for a long time is the only way to develop full flavor.
      Wheat ferments at one rate, rye ferments at another, and buckwheat at yet another. The amount of water, milk, or cream can accelerate or slow the process. When Zachary combines any of these elements to create a new bread, he’s like an orchestra conductor pulling out different themes over the course of a performance. Yet his goal is always the same: to control the process that’s responsible for the deep, complex flavor of great bread. All of the fermenting ingredients have to reach their peak of flavor at the same time, just before the dough goes into the oven. You need to have baked legions of loaves to gauge when things are going well; then you can just feel it.
-Peter Kaminsky; Introduction: New Guy in Town; Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p2
[W]hite rye adds a distinctive sweetness. Dark rye also contributes a deep brown color that makes for an appealing appearance […] I find rye to be an ingredient that plays well with others; it’s great in a supporting role but challenging as a solo act. When it’s the primary flour, it makes for a super-dense bread—something I want to make only occasionally and only for specific reasons […] Because rye adds such distinct flavors, depending on whether it’s white rye, medium rye, or dark rye, I recomment that you stay with waht I call for in the recipes. I’ve done many experiments to arrive at the flavor profile of each bread, and I’ve learned from my mistakes so you don’t have to.
      Buckwheat isn’t a grain in the conventional sense of the term […] Historically, buckwheat flour was used to fortify dough when wheat was at a premium. Today, buckwheat is mostly used as a cover crop that helps replenish nutrients in the soils of fields where wheat and other grains are grown. […] When fermented, [buckwheat] contributes deep, nutty aromas and light alcohol notes without increasing acidity. As with wheat and rye flours, there are lighter and darker forms of buckwheat flour, but in this case the color has litte effect on nutritional value [or how it] interacts with other ingredients.
-Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky; The Building Blocks: Grains and Flours; Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p.18,19
Buckwheat is actually the seed of a flowering fruit that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. It’s completely gluten-free and unrelated to wheat and all the grasses in the wheat family. So it’s a popular substitute for wheat for those who are gluten-intolerant. It’s also a plant known for its honey; the flowers are attractive to bees and its pollen produces a dark and uniquely flavored honey. […] It’s very high in nutrients, and it has even more fiber than oatmeal.
-Faith Durand, Good Grains: What Is Buckwheat? | The Kitchn
Rye contains gluten, but not as much as wheat does. It also has more soluble sugars than wheat flour, so it ferments faster. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it can ferment too fast and collapse.
-Donna Currie, Alternative Flours: All About White Whole Wheat, Spelt, Rye, and More | Serious Eats

Okay, I’m convinced! 60F for the water it will be.

17:55 I just mixed my starter. And already, I’ve transgressed.

I do know that I’m not supposed to be making substitutions. But when have I ever followed the recipe anyway? Fiddle-dee-dee! I’ll make as many mistakes as I want!!

I was going to substitute dark rye measure for measure for the white rye. But after reading the above, to account for the fact that I’m using dark rye flour, I switched and substituted with almost half all-purpose, to make the dark rye flour think it’s white rye flour. (Shhhhh, don’t tell the BBBabes or the Bien Cuit authors!!)

And congratulations, me, I used the thermometer to measure the temperature of the water.

The starter is now in the oven with only the light on. I’m hoping it will peak – how will I know?? – early tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!!

sidenote: I’m flabbergasted to see that Amazon is offering the cookbook new for CDN$ 48.14 or used for “from CDN$ 53.57” Hahahahahaha! As if. Do you think there is anyone who would willingly pay more for “used”? Surely they don’t imagine that we’ve all been reading the story of Aladdin….

13 February 2016, 08:57 I’m just about to head into the kitchen to see how the starter is doing and to mix the dough anyway. Luckily the caramelized onions aren’t put directly in the dough. Because – you probably guessed – I only just now read the recipe to see when they were supposed to made.

Yup. I’m still waffling about whether to put the caramelized onions in or if I’m going to “forget”. Don’t get me wrong. We both love caramelized onions. But we both prefer plain unstuffed bread – to really show off the flavour of the grain(s).

Then I read this:

When I worked for Georges Perrier at Le Bec-Fin, […] Georges showed me how to get serious about caramelizing onions. His method takes a long time and a lot of stirring, but it’s so much better than the common shortcut of adding sugar to onions and sautéing them. I incorporated those onions into a baguette, which Georges liked a lot. Here’s the secret: The onion should be neither the centerpiece nor the last thing you taste; instead, it should be a persistent note in a chorus of flavors. […] Georges would serve this bread with smoked meat, especially bacon or pancetta. I love it with brisket or anything you’d serve with caramelized onions. If you make traditional French onion soup, it would be an ideal crouton.
-Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky; Caramelized Onion Bread; Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p.69

So, being an obedient(ish) BBBabe, I just looked at the Bien Cuit caramelized onion recipe. Wow!! A pound of butter and two pounds of onions – that’s a LOT of onions and butter. …I’m going to have a hard time selling this.

We do love caramelized onions, but at $5/lb of butter, I suspect that I’m going to be making just a 1/4 recipe and hoping it’s enough.

10:03 After more reflection, I’ve decided that as much as j’adore caramelized onions, I’m not going to make them after all. I just can’t justify using all that butter and all those onions. It isn’t worth the risk. (Not to mention that I’m lazy.) I know we’ll like the bread without the onions. I don’t know that we’ll like it with them….

Mixing the dough was a breeze (even though I have NO idea if the starter had peaked – it looked pretty grey and inactive). Of course, when I got into the kitchen, after having given myself permission to “forget to put in the onions” and having used dark rye and all-purpose wheat flours in the starter, I couldn’t help myself from making a few more alterations to the ingredients list:

  • I substituted a little of the white (all-purpose) flour with finely ground flax seed
  • I halved the amount of honey because it’s so strong tasting (it’s buckwheat honey!!)
  • I used active dry yeast
  • The water was closer to body temperature than 60F. (It’s -23C outside and around 14C (just under 60F) in the kitchen. 60F water just feels too cold.)
  • I used Kosher salt – I was planning to use seasalt when I was still upstairs but by the time I got to the kitchen, I had forgotten. {duh}
  • I crossed out the caramelized onions (!!!)

Then I thought I’d do something completely unprecedented: I read ahead (not very far…) in the instructions.

Push the dough to one side of the bowl. Roll and tuck the dough […], adding the reserved flour mixture and a small amount of additional flour to the bowl and your hands as needed. Continue rolling and tucking until the dough feels stronger and begins to resist any further rolling, about 10 times. Then, with cupped hands, tuck the sides under toward the center. Place the dough, seam-side down, in a clean bowl, cover the top of the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.
-Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky; Caramelized Onion Bread, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p.69

My library copy of the book hasn’t appeared yet (I’m NOT spending $50 on a book without seeing it first) so I googled “roll and tuck”. Hmmm, it seems unlikely that it has to do with hair. Might it be referring to making the dough look like this “tuck and roll” upholstery method (

Or is it simply saying to tuck things in and roll as you go?

I’m going with that last version (I wonder if I’m close…).

10:17 Armed with the phrase “roll and tuck”, I ‘looked inside the book’ at Amazon and see that it’s simply another way to say “stretch and fold” to strengthen slack dough:

The wet dough is folded over on itself a number of times. In the process, the gluten starts to develop and the dough becomes firmer and easier to work with.
-Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky; Making a Dough, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p28

11:23 The dough is not even close to rising. But I rolled and tucked in the bowl. Interesting smell from the dough. I can’t tell if it’s the buckwheat or the rye that is so pervasive.

12:19 No rising yet. I rolled and tucked in the bowl. Mmm… smooooooth!

14:16 Still no rising. I rolled and tucked in the bowl yet another time. The dough doesn’t seem to have budged at all. But it’s nicely firm. And not too dry. Maybe it will start rising now? I hope so. I hope so.

I’m all for long slow rises but this is getting a bit ridiculous, don’t you think?

It would be nice if I could have the bread baked by tomorrow afternoon. {cough}

17:37 I just rolled and tucked again – outside the bowl, this time sprinkling on a tiny bit of all-purpose flour. At first I despaired, thinking that there was still nothing happening. But as turned the dough over one more time before putting the bowl back into the oven, I noticed one small bubble forming. Whoohooo! Maybe it’s not going to be a complete failure after all.

I sent a message to the other BBBabes to find out if it’s supposed to take this long to rise.

22:10 After dinner, there were some lovely replies telling me not to worry and that it didn’t have to rise between rolling and tucking. Two final messages said:

Those last directions certainly are verbose aren’t they? No, it doesn’t have to double, just a 20 minute rest, a pre-shape, a five minute rest, the final shaping and set on the floured linen and chill.
-Kelly, email to BBBabes
I just followed the stretch and fold schedule, and then shaped the dough without paying attention to the size of the dough. It got quite buoyant toward the end. I’m not saying I did it right because mine is rising in the fridge right now
-Karen K, email to BBBabes

SHRIEK!!! I’m supposed to refrigerate this for 12 hours after shaping it?!

Sigh. Tanna did tell us we were supposed to read the WHOLE recipe.

But I don’ need to read no stinkin’ instructions on how to mix dough!! I’m an expert…. :stomp: :stomp:

As an expert, I’ve decided to leave the dough on the counter overnight, which is essentially chilling it. The kitchen is around 15C now but it will no doubt drop down to around 12C. I’ll put the butter in tomorrow. I’ll leave the butter in the oven with only the light turned on to make sure it’s spreadable.

14 February 2016, 05:24 What a fiasco.

Did I say it would drop to 12C in the kitchen? Well. I was wrong. It is 10C in there now.

Even with the light on in the oven, the butter was just barely spreadable. I’m afraid that I just don’t have the heart to try “4 or 5 roll and tuck sequences to incorporate the butter”. As if. It’s just too cold.

I do have one happy note though. There are bubbles in the dough (that was attempting to double in spite of the chill) and it feels beautiful.

10:13 Why am I surprised? The loaves haven’t even budged. Except to look a little limp. I sure can’t imagine scoring these limp flaccid things and getting any kind of definition in the cuts.

15:57 I just turned the oven on. I don’t care that the stupid things look the same size as before. I’m going to bake them anyway and hope that there is major oven pop.

I did mention earlier that I’m delusional, didn’t I?

ready for scoringscoredbrotformscoring
1. boule dusted with semolina/all-purpose flours 2. proofing under a tea towel produces a thin hard shell 3. brotform-proofed boule has no hard shell 4. scoring must be done with swift strokes

Oh yes, and while I did read, comprehend AND remember that the instructions were to preheat to 500F, I simply refuse. Our poor old oven just can’t take it and will insist on blowing a fuse. I’m preheating to 400F as usual. Please don’t tell the Bien Cuit people. I wouldn’t want them to go into a decline.

16:16 I really like that dusting mixture! For the first time in ages, the loaves came off the peel cleanly! Scoring was fun(ish), although I’m not sure that my blade angle was shallow enough. One of the loaves (the non-brotform loaf that was just under a tea towel) had really dried out so there was quite a shell to break through with the blade.

Wheeee!! More transgressing: I don’t want to wreck our cast iron pan by putting ice cubes in it so I liberally sprayed the loaf with the shell after scoring it.

23:28 Well, it’s a miracle. I have proved once again that bread just wants to be bread.

Bien Cuit Rye The loaves were finally done at 16:45. And I have to say that they look pretty darn good. The slashes aren’t nice crevasses that I had hoped for. They completely filled in because there was {gasp} oven spring. But.

There! Was! Oven! Spring!

(And I thought maybe I’d managed to kill the yeast.) Also, because our kitchen is so cold right now and the butter didn’t exactly get completely incorporated (because I am incapable of following the instructions…) some of the butter oozed out of the bread as it baked, creating interesting looking bulges. And I guess my scoring angle wasn’t acute enough so I only managed to get one tiny ear.

Bien Cuit RyeBien Cuit Rye

Even though I sprayed colossal amounts of water on the non-brotform loaf, the scoring pattern still shows.

Wow. How thrilling! I had not at all expected to be playing the Glad Game quite so joyously.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating, at least 4 hours but preferably 8 to 24 hours.
-BBB Bien Cuit Caramelized Onion Bread recipe

I was out this evening so we are being obedient and letting the bread cool overnight. We’ll try it tomorrow.

I can’t wait!

Bien Cuit Rye toast Yesterday morning, we raced down to the kitchen to make tea and toast.

Oh Oh Oh! This bread is fabulous!

I really cannot imagine how it could possibly be better, even if there were caramelized onions added. Thank you for a wonderful new taste sensation, Tanna! Buckwheat and rye flours go beautifully together!

Here is the BBB February 2016 Bien Cuit Caramelized Onion Bread recipe. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Bien Cuit Caramelized Onion Rye – Sans Onions
based on a recipe in “Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread” by Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky


  • 125g white rye flour ¹
       » 75g dark rye flour
       » 50g unbleached all-purpose wheat flour
  • ~10grains active dry yeast 0.3 gram (generous pinch) instant yeast²
  • 125g water at 60F (15C) ³
  • dough

  • all of the above starter
  • 415g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 75g buckwheat flour
  • 10g flax seed, finely ground 4
  • 15g Kosher salt 5
  • 1g active dry yeast
  • 350g water at about 80F ³
  • 25g buckwheat honey 6
  • 25 grams (13/4 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50 grams (1/4 c) Caramelized Onions
  • dusting mixture 7
    10g semolina flour
    50g unbleached all-purpose flour

    1. starter: Two days before you plan to bake the bread, put flours for the starter into a large mixing bowl. Measure water at 60F (please do not use water from the hot water tap!) into a small bowl and whisk yeast in until it has dissolved. Add the yeasted water to the flours and stir 50 times with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light turned on overnight (10 to 14 hours). Imagine that the light in the oven will push the temperature up to “room temperature” rather than the ambient temperature that the kitchen generally hits at night. Forget to anticipate that if the outside temperature is well below freezing, the inside temperature will be even colder than usual.
    2. dough: The next morning, just assume that the sludge you see has “reached its peak” and proceed blindly. Stir flours into a medium sized bowl and set aside. Measure water at about 80F (to make up for the fact that the starter is quite cold). Add honey and yeast and whisk until the yeast has dissolved. Pretend you don’t notice the crystalized pieces of honey.
    3. Dump finely ground flaxseed on top of the starter in the large bowl. Pour in yeasted water and stir with a wooden spoon to create a slurry. Dump almost all of the flour mixture in, reserving a handful for “rolling and tucking”. Pretend that you know what “rolling and tucking” is because you’ve skimmed the recipe (and besides, you know everything there is to know about making bread already). Dump in the salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flours are mixed in. The dough will resemble a stiff, sticky batter.
    4. kneading in the bowl: Use your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl as many times as you feel like. Put a plate over the bowl and leave it to sit in the oven with only the light on for about half an hour. Notice that after half an hour, the dough is quite smooth. Turn it a couple of times in the bowl anyway.
    5. stretching and folding: After about 45 minutes, take a look at the dough and try not to worry that it hasn’t budged. Give it a few turns and assume that it’s supposed to be that way. Repeat this several times until dinner. Congratulate yourself for knowing that there is no way this will be ready to bake that night.
    6. read the recipe: When it’s close to midnight and the dough still hasn’t even begun to double and you still haven’t put in the butter or the caramelized onions (that you already decided to omit, so they don’t matter anyway), panic. Then, to try to calm yourself, look at the original recipe again. Finally notice that you were supposed to have put the butter in anyway, shaped the bread and that it should already be languishing in the fridge overnight. Decide to let it languish, unshaped and unbuttered, in the bowl on the counter overnight. That will essentially be like putting it in the fridge.
    7. adding the butter: Early in the morning of the third day, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and spread it out into a rectangle. Be happy to see so many bubbles. Try not to spit when attempting to to rub vaguely soft butter onto the surface. Purse your lips and shake your head as you roll the rectangle up tightly, sealing the seams with your fingertips and folding it in thirds. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a plate and let it sit on the cold counter for an hour, to think about all the grief it is giving you.
    8. dusting mixture and shaping: Whisk together the flours for the dusting mixture. Generously scatter some of it on the board and turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough evenly in two pieces. Press each one into a rectangle (13x15cm), then roll it into a log about 23cm long. Let the logs rest. Then press each one down again and shape into rounds. Ignore the instructions to “Line a half sheet pan with a linen liner and dust fairly generously with the dusting mixture. […] Transfer to the lined pan, seam-side up, positioning the loaves lengthwise. Dust the top and sides of the loaves with flour. Fold the linen hto create support walls on both sides of each loaf, then fold any extra length of the linen liner over the top or cover with a kitchen towel.” Simply place one of the shaped loaves seam side down in a brotform generously covered in dusting mixture. Leave the other shaped loaf seam side down on the board and use your hands to cover it with dusting mixture. Try not to despair that there are clearly still largish pieces of cold butter lurking under the surface. Prepare to play the Glad Game after the bread is baked and discovering little pockets of butter in every slice. Heartened, cover the shaped loaves with a clean tea towel and leave it in the oven with only the light on until they have almost doubled. Know that you are transgressing, but refuse to try to find space in the fridge and be unwilling to put on hat, muffler and boots to take it out to the unheated green section by the back door. Justify your actions by knowing that the dough has been in the cold for quite a long time already.
    9. baking: Preheat the oven to 400F. (If you have a fancy new oven, preheat it to 500F).
    10. scoring: When the oven is hot, score the loaves. Make sure to move swiftly and decisively with the loaf that has the hard dry shell on it. Liberally spray the free-form loaf with water, knowing that the flour pattern may disappear. Transfer both loaves onto the hot stone and bake for 30-40 minutes until the bread is quite dark and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom (internal temperature will be around 200F or a little higher.)
    11. cooling: Allow the bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It’s still baking inside! The “Bien Cuit” authors say “Let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating, at least 4 hours but preferably 8 to 24 hours“. N.B. Of course you may want to serve warm bread. Reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.


    1.) Rye flour The BBB calls 125 grams of white rye flour. We only have dark rye flour in the house and it’s too much like winter (inside and out) to go waltzing around the city on our bikes in search of white rye flour….

    2.) Yeast The BBB recipe calls for “0.3 gram (generous pinch) instant yeast” for the starter. We don’t have instant yeast and always use active dry instead – measure for measure. Because our scale isn’t really reliable for measuring fractions of grams, I interpreted “generous pinch” as being about 10 grains.

    3.) Water The low water temperature surprised me. From what I can gather, it’s because rye flour is more volatile than wheat flour. For the starter, I followed the water temperature guidelines obediently. For the dough itself, I was radical and used 80F water. And you know what I’m going to say about getting the water to 60F, but I’ll repeat it anyway: please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cold, it’s too cold; if it feels like a cross between cool, warm and nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

    4.) Flaxseed The Bien Cuit recipe calls for zero flaxseed. But I just couldn’t help myself. I substituted some of the unbleached all-purpose with ground flax seeds. Of course, I should have known that Tanna would add some as well. She simply adds 35 grams ground flax seed on top of the full amount of flour.

    5.) Salt The BBB recipe calls “15 grams (2+1/2 tsp) fine sea salt”. We have seasalt; I was going to use it. But my hands simply went to the Kosher salt container on the stove. Kosher salt has a much bigger grain than table salt so I always weigh salt for bread making…. (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?.)

    6.) Honey The BBB recipe calls for “50 grams (2+1/2Tbsp) honey”. We have buckwheat honey opened right now and because it has quite a strong flavour, I decided to use half the amount.

    7.) Dusting Mixture There may be some dusting mixture left over. The “Bien Cuit” authors offer the following caution: Don’t use this mixture during mixing, rolling and tucking, stretching and folding, or shaping, as the semolina will change the quality of the dough incorporated into it.


    Bien Cuit Rye

    As complicated as this recipe is, I am forced to say that it turns out stellar bread. I’m looking forward to actually leafing through the book to see if reading it helps to decipher the instructions better. But I’m a little surprised that the recipe testers for the book didn’t complain about the lack of instructions about how things would look. It’s not as if specific fermentation times are the same in various locations.

    In fact, this omission is a point against them for whether I’ll buy the book (I’m STILL #12 of 12 holds at the library with just 9 copies in the system for my preview-before-deciding-to-buy copy). But. We have tasted Bien Cuit’s rye/buckwheat bread.

    It’s fabulous!!!

    I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to forget about how complicated the recipe was and be making this bread again. Many times…. What other gems are waiting in the Bien Cuit cookbook? No wonder the library copies are so slow to reappear. I bet the people who have borrowed those 9 copies are unwilling to return the books back to the library.

    It’s the perfect antidote to a cold winter morning.

    Thank you, once again, Tanna!

    Bien Cuit Rye/Buckwheat Bread

    Bread Baking Babes BBB February 2016

    Tanna is our host for February 2016’s Bread Baking Babes’ 8th anniversary project. She wrote:

    I know we each one of us struggle when it’s our turn to pick the bread. […] I am truly entranced with the book Bien Cuit – it means baked till almost black […] There are several recipes I’d considered but this one looks very good and at some point I think just about any would be right.

    We know you’ll want to make Bien Cuit caramelized onion bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 February 2016. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

    Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

    For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

    Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ February 2016 bread. And while you’re there, make sure to welcome our newest BBBabe, Kelly (A Messy Kitchen).

    As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

    As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES! (You can tell by the panties….)


    Bien Cuit Rye



    We imagined that we wouldn’t get snow this winter. Indeed, judging from the weather forecasts on the weekend, the weather office thought we wouldn’t get snow in the immediate future either. And yet, this is how our back garden looked this morning (and still looks this afternoon). Pretty, isn’t it?

    This entry was posted in anniversaries, baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, cookbooks, etc., food & drink, posts with recipes on by . snow

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    18 responses to “8 Years and the BBBabes are Bien Cuit! (BBB February 2016)

    1. Kelly

      Love your scoring, jealous of your brotform, I have none, love that bias cut shot of your crumb! I only did a quarter recipe of the onions for the same expensive butter reason, but you really must try it with the onions! :) Rye and buckwheat, who knew?

      1. Elizabeth Post author

        Thank you, Kelly!

        The only reason we have a brotform is because an unsuspecting generous baker was selling one of his extra ones at a charity street sale. It was pouring rain and sales weren’t going very well. I helped them cover their table with a giant plastic tarp and as we were pinning down the corners, I spied the brotform. He offered it to me for a dollar!!!

    2. tanna jones

      Complicated recipe … I just thought it was long but I do see your point. And you are so right, I wish recipes would say it looks like this, it feels like that because the more you kneed the more you realize you’re working on feel. Thanks for the Julia quote, that woman really got it.

      and now for something completely different … (hysterical laughing here) I totally blew off the Dusting mix … I saw that, I made sure I had the semolina … I didn’t do it. Unreal, just unreal. My 8 year old grandson reads as well as I do.

      I see from you what the dusting mix adds … next time.
      The onions don’t make it soggy, they’re beautiful.

      Fantastic write up as usual.

    3. Baking Soda

      Wow you had ovenspring!! Looks so good! Can you believe I have two brotforms and it only fleetingly crossed my mind that I could use those? Active word here is fleetingly. So fast I didn’t even realise what I was thinking. And reading… highly overrated. Procrastinators unite!

      1. Elizabeth Post author

        Reading is highly overrated indeed. I just learned today that we were supposed to proof the bread in cloth. Ha! Who knew?

        Mercifully, I will have forgotten by the time I make this bread again.

        You have two brotforms? I’m suitably envious!

    4. katiezel

      So…. was it the 12 inches of ‘partly cloudy’ that fell overnight that caused you to abandon the onions? How could anything by wrong with a pound of butter (other than the price). Ah, well…. you managed to pull it off again – Well done (or bien cuit)

    5. Bread Experience

      Elizabeth your loaf looks great! Love the scoring and you got some nice holes in the crumb as well. I think this one is a keeper. Now, I need to get the book.

    6. Lien

      I never knew until there was a picture on the Babe blog that we were supposed to use so much butter. I just used a few TBsp of olive oil and a lot of slow cooking time to make my onion, and that was just fine. But ok, you can come out of the naughty corner now.
      It’s great to have ovenspring, I love that, it’s like an extra surprise when you just hope the bread will be sort of ok. Your crumb looks beautiful! Happy anniversary!

    7. tanna jones

      ????? I thought I already left a comment here. I’m delusional.
      First, I can’t believe you left out the onions … I mean it’s in the title for heavens sake.
      Julia Child: “you are the boss of the bread” isn’t that just too perfect. It’s good to be the boss of something,
      That business about the dry skin being needed to get a good score, I think I finally get the idea after this bread.
      hahaha yes I know it said white rye … but that’s dark rye in my cabinet so that’s what goes in my bread. I didn’t give it a second thought.
      Totally that’s too much butter to use on the onions.
      Now about your loaf … totally totally I blew it not registering when I read about the dusting mix.
      I really really love the look you got with that.

      1. Elizabeth Post author

        You did leave a comment, Tanna. You did! It’s up above.

        I can’t believe I had the nerve to leave out the onions either! (And willfully too) It’s awfully nice of Lien to let me out of the naughty corner so early.

        I was really excited by the look after using the dusting mix. It’s especially exciting that spraying the loaf liberally with water just before it went in the oven – so much that it seemed like I had sprayed all the dusting off – didn’t remove the design from the slashes! I can’t wait to try this dusting mixture again.

    8. Barbara M

      Another great saga. When I first saw “caramelized onions”, I thought it would be a filling, and I thought how excellent it would be to have a whole pocket of onions in each slice. Then when I saw they would be incorporated, I thought that might be good too. Then when I saw that you were going to skip them, I thought “screeeech!! but but but … Caramelized! Onions! … how could you not add that?” But I’m recovered now, after only going into a small decline – your slices look great.

      1. Elizabeth Post author

        I’m so glad you’ve recovered! I know. Caramelized onions are indeed delicious. But I still think I made the right decision. If I had added the onions, we might not have appreciated the really wonderful flavour that the buckwheat adds.


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