Many of the testers have begun sending in their responses to the challah and struan recipes (see the previous post if you missed that info) and the loaves seem to be working out quite well for the most part (of course, there's always room for tweaking the instructions).
Some of you have asked when will we get into sourdough breads (or wild yeast breads, as I prefer to call them). The answer is, soon. Some of you already have starters that you've used for years and many of you do not yet have a starter. So for those who want to make a starter from scratch, please write in and I'll send you the instructions (the wording is not the final wording that will be used in the book, but the steps are). There is a lot of info on starters in this file to help you understand the process and a little of the science. It will take about 7 to 9 days for the starter to be ready (you will be making a "seed culture" that will then be turned into a "mother starter" (madre as some call it), which will then be used to build a piece of final starter for your recipes. The key is that once you have a mother starter, if you take care of it, you will not have to go through all these steps again--ever (Boudin Bakery in SF has kept their starter going for about 160 years, since 1849). While you're building your starter, I'll start writing up some sourdough bread recipes for testing. These should be ready to start sending out around the 21st of December, so please don't ask for the recipes now, even if you already have a starter. Please wait for me to announce that they're ready via this blog.
Write to me now only if you want the instructions for building a sourdough starter from scratch.
I'll also be working on a Christmas bread recipe that I hope to get to you before Christmas (if it's not ready to send we may have to rename it a 12th Day of Christmas Bread, like a King's Cake). This recipe will use some starter (optional, not required, but it does improve it) so start the process of making yours as soon as you get the instructions (or, if you already have one lying dormant in the fridge, wake it up, refresh it, and get it ready for use in about a week).
Till then, there's still time to catch up if you've missed some of the recipes we already sent out: bagels, biscuits, struan, and challah (everyone has done the French bread already, I believe). So write in if you want to do one of the recipes you missed.
As for the non-testers reading this, I'm still shooting for mid-January to open it up for a new set of recipe testers (we'll need fresh eyes and opinions to go over the revised versions), so please check the blog then and write in only when I give the word--I can't keep a back-list, there's just too much going on for that right now.
Okay, I'll be back next week with new recipes. Good luck with your starters!
PS If you decide to take a baking break during the Christmas/Chanukah intensity, you can always request the recipes later, when you're ready.