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 . . .
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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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

English Granary-Style Bread

Although I am baking my way through the new HB in 5 book, there are still a lot of recipes from the original AB in 5 that I enjoy.  Since a had a bit of a breather between assignments in the Challenge, I decided to make a batch of the English Granary Bread. 
The recipe calls for wheat flakes, which the book indicated were available through King Arthur Flour.  But the wheat flakes were no longer available, at least when I tried to order them.  I posed the question of a substitute to King Arthur, and they suggested Maltex cereal, which I ordered online
I used the dough to make a free form loaf.  It seems to me that the loaf takes longer to bake than the recipe indicates.  I used an instant read thermometer to check for doneness, shooting for 200-205 degrees. 

The cereal in the dough makes for a kind of craggy crust and yields a somewhat damper crumb.  It has a nice, nutty flavor and produces a bread we enjoy very much. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baldwin-Wallace Bakers

My daughter Becca, a junior at Baldwin-Wallace College, has become quite the HB in 5 baker of late.  She has been making focaccia like it was her job.  She just made her first boule, using the HB in 5 Master recipe.

She is baking on a cast iron griddle instead of a baking stone.  Looks great, though rumor has it she was unable to let it cool much before diving in.  That is Becca. 

In addition, Becca    and her housemate Marissa
have been making pizzas.  They look “fabulous.”  And the pizzas look pretty good too! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Red Beet Buns and Chocolate Espresso Whole Wheat Bread (3 of 42)

FIRST, I want to say how much I appreciate all the work and effort our fearless leader Michelle at Big Black Dog has put into organizing this Bread Braid.  She is the best.  BUT (with an intro like that you knew there had to be a BUT), when I read this assignment I had the same thought as everyone else —“WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?!?!?!?”  She specified that this assignment was to celebrate Valentine's Day!!  Really!!  I am not kidding!! 
I am sure that everyone else was as baffled as I was that she picked the least important of the four (4), count ‘em, four (4), major holidays that fell within the two-week span of this assignment. 
I can understand not choosing Groundhog Day, we all would have had to bake the same loaf of bread every day, over and over and over again.  But for the life of me I simply cannot understand how she could have chosen Valentine’s Day over the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500!  So, being a “better to light a single candle than curse the dark” kind of guy, I baked to celebrate those two holidays instead.
For the Super Bowl I used the Chocolate Espresso Whole Wheat dough to make the Chocolate Tangerine Bars.   The dough was a little harder to work with, as others have noted, but it rose OK for me and was tasty.  I really enjoyed the combination of flavors—the tart of the tangerine zest and craisins and the bittersweet chocolate chips--in these bars.


To go with them I made some Tangerine Fro-Yo, using the juice from the tangerine I zested for the bars, along with the juice and zest of another tangerine. 

With the left over Chocolate Espresso dough, I used my brand new dough presses for pocket pies (as soon as I saw Michelle's Pocket Apple Pies I had to order my own set of presses). 
I used the small press to make more of a cookie than a pie.  I filled some with jam and some with a few peanut butter chips.  They were OK, but a little dry.  I think they would have been better bigger, which would have allowed a better filling-to-dough ratio.  Michelle used the 5” press and 2 tablespoons of filling for her Chocolate Cherry Pocket Pies

I also made muffins, and worked  some raisins and peanut butter chips into the dough.  These rose well and were very good (how could they not be?).    

Finally, I treated the dough as I would to make a pita.  It did not puff up when it baked like a regular pita, but I was not really that surprised given the nature of the dough.  What I did get, though, was a nice flatbread, which I split, filled with some vanilla Fro-Yo, and made Fro-Yo sandwiches!


Then, on to the Beet Bread. 
But first a medical note, an homage to our Bread Braid doctor-to-be Joanne at Eats Well With Others:  it is probably not kidney failure, too many beets will just do that to you. 
I have only late in life come to a fondness for beets.  I attribute this to two things.  The first was a long ago stint on a diet that involved large doses of beets at what seemed to be every meal.  We used canned beets, and did not make it past the second day.  Which segues to the second factor, fresh beets make a huge difference. 
Not surprisingly, the dough for this bread was a surprising color.  With the shredded beets it was a little different consistency to work with, too.
We were tasked with using this dough to make buns.

In honor of The Daytona 500,  I gave mine numbers.  

You can see Mark Martin’s # 5 bun inside Bill Elliot’s #21, with the 77 of Sam Hornish and the 1 of Jamie McMurray pulled up tight in the draft.  As we all know, Jamie held off Junior to win the longest 500 in history.  

 A funny thing about beets.  It is surprisingly easy to overestimate the number you need to make half a batch of beet dough.  I roasted the extra beets at 400 degrees for about an hour, and with our beet buns, which I split and filled with crab salad, we also had borscht and warm beet and spinach salad.  (See medical note above.)
The buns were very good, with the flavor of the onion more noticeable than that of the beets.  They are also  good split and toasted for breakfast. 

And finally, for Michelle, here is a more or less heart-shaped beet bun for Valentine’s Day. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

HB in 5 Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (2 of 42)

Our mission this fortnight, should we choose to accept it, was to use the Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread to make a sandwich loaf in a bread pan, some buns (hot dog or hamburger) and an Apple Strudel Bread.  I used egg substitute and canola oil to make my dough, and since this dough will only keep for 5 days I used my Bread Weight Converter Spreadsheet  to make half a recipe to start. 

First, I pulled off two four ounce pieces of dough to make 2 hamburger buns.  I formed them, let them rise.

Then I brushed them with egg wash  and topped them with a Kummelweck topping (equal parts salt and caraway seeds).  Then I baked them.

Once cool I sliced them and used them for blue cheese burgers.

I have made buns before with various AB in 5 dough in the past, but they were always a bit dense to my taste for a good hamburger bun.  These buns, however, were spectacular!  And Whole Wheat, too.
So, I made another batch of buns a couple of days later! 

I made these larger, and hence thinner, to accommodate my filling.  I suppose I could have used more dough per bun, but I wanted to stay within the quarter pound of dough range.    

I made blackened salmon fillets, based on Guy Fieri’s “Not Lackin' on the Blackenin' Catfish” recipe.  I blackened the fillets 2-3 minutes per side in a pretty hot cast iron skillet, then transferred the skillet to a 225 degree oven for 8-10 minutes to let the residual pan heat and carryover heat finish the cooking.  I topped the salmon with some guacamole, sliced red onion and  home grown sprouts and served it with green beans and green rice (brown basmati cooked in my rice cooker with some chopped cilantro and sautéed onion). 
My sandwich loaf baked in the loaf pan also turned out very well. 
My best-seller, however, was the Apple Strudel Bread. 
First, a word about hardware.  To grind the nuts I used “THE UNIFORM NUT MEAT GRINDER” that once belonged to my mother-in-law, Betty.  To core and slice the apples before chopping, I used the adjustable apple corer/slicer my daughter Katie gave me for Christmas. 

So, I used one of my oldest and one of my newest kitchen gadgets to make this bread.  

I spread the nuts and apples, along with the raw sugar, cinnamon and raisins on top of the rolled out dough (which, in the interest of full disclosure, was Whole Wheat Brioche rather than Soft Sandwich because I had Brioche dough that I needed to use).

I rolled it up, plopped it in a loaf pan,

and after rising and baking—voila!  It was wonderful. 

And that completes the second of the labors set for us in our pilgrimage through HB in 5.