There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
Depending on to whom you listen, however, our standard of living, may, or may not, be threatened by climate change--global warming. Though scary, it is hard to sift through all the shouting and conflicting information to figure out who is right on this issue.
One person, Greg Craven, has suggested changing the question from "which side is right" to "what is the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risks involved?" To me, this seems like a very productive way to refocus the conversation. So, if you are confused about, concerned by, or interested in the issue of global warming please take a few minutes to watch his VIDEO. If you find it interesting or helpful, please pass it on to others.

This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Friday, December 25, 2009


I decided to try baking Stollen ( a rich German sweet bread containing nuts, raisins, etc--from Stollen, wooden post, prop; so called from its shape) from HB in 5, though I could have purchased one from Zingerman's for $36.

I followed the recipe, using mixture of 7 dried fruits I found at the store.  I also used almond paste--it was on sale.  I rolled out the dough, spread some almond paste toward one end, and folded it in an "S" shape as directed.

And when I baked it, this is what I got.

The only problem was that, as you can see, the tunnel of almond paste was off center.  Next time I may put the paste down the center and "letter fold" it from either side.  That should still yield a similar look to the "S" fold, but help keep the filing centered.

But it ate real well even off-centered (though I have never had Stollen before, so I don't have anything to compare it too).

Anyway, this is my Stollen, and that is all I have to say about that!  Happy Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest

  I made the Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest using egg substitute and canola oil.  I first made the braided loaf, per the directions. 

Then I made two smaller loaves, to pass along, using the letter fold.   All turned out great.  I thought the amount of orange was just right, subtle but noticeable.  I would add more craisins, but I like lots of stuff in bread that is supposed to have stuff in it.

Ever since reading Zoe's post about English Muffins I have made them with all sorts of dough, and the challah was no exception.  Because I like the look of both top and bottom of the muffin being flat I cook them on my griddle, but I have also baked them as Zoe recommends.  You can flip them in the oven after a few minutes if you want.  I think the key to the English Muffin effect is plenty of corn meal.

To make getting them onto the griddle easier I put plenty of cornmeal on parchment paper, roll out the dough, cut it with a 3 inch biscuit cutter, put it on the paper and sprinkle the tops well with corn meal. 

Then, I cut the parchment paper around each muffin-not too hard, especially with one of these cutters.  Then after the muffins have risen 20-30 minutes I transfer them, parchment paper and all, to a 375 degree griddle.  I cook each side 7-8 minutes. 

After a few minutes on the first side, I slide the muffins off the parchment paper to let them brown better.  

And there we are.  I like making English Muffins to use up dough when I have too much and it is getting down to the wire.  I split them and freeze them to toast for breakfast.  

Friday, December 11, 2009

Date Walnut Pumpernickel

OK, so this is not an HB in 5 recipe, it is from the first book, AB in 5, but I made it during the hiatus between bonus recipes. 

It was really outstanding, and makes a terrific holiday date nut bread.  And it is certainly more healthy than my regular date nut bread, much lower in calories and fat. I took about a pound of the dough (I use 14 ounces when I make recipes from the first book since that is about 1/4 of a batch) rolled it out, covered it with chopped dates and walnuts, perhaps a few more than called for, rolled it up, let it rise and baked it.  Notice that instead of using the cornstarch wash I just dusted it with four before slashing.  I think it makes a nice contrasting effect.  I highly recommend this bread, especially for the holidays, but any time.  It makes great toast, too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pumpkin Brioche

I made a batch of pumpkin brioche last Thursday using egg substitute and canola oil.  I baked 1/2 the batch on Friday, which was probably too much for the loaf pan, being over 2 1/2 pounds, but the loaf was spectacular.  It took longer to bake, of course.  I used the amount of spices recommended in the book--not overpowering, but very good.  Depends on what you are going for.  I made muffins with the dough on Sunday, and they turned out well.  Today I used the last of the batch, about a pound, to make a small cinnamon-craisin bread.   I rolled the dough out into a rectangle, mixed some sugar and  cinnamon, sprinkled it on the dough and threw on some craisins and rolled it up. 

Turned out great.