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

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Olive Spelt Bread and Carrot Bread (6 of 42)

Errata: In the last post I offered, with respect to living with an abundance of women, the sentiment of Friedrich Nietzsche—and Conan the Barbarian—that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Since then, I came across a variant in Dr. Mardy's Quotes of the Week -- March 14 - 20, 2010 which to me seems more accurate, and so I offer this correction: "Adversity in immunological doses has its uses; more than that crushes."

So,  with that out of the way, on to this fortnight’s assignment. I first made the Olive Spelt Bread.
Olive, (n) small ovoid fruit of the European olive tree; important food and source of oil. Princeton’s WordNet
, (n)
1. (Triticum spelta) a hexaploid species of wheat. Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times; it now survives as a relict crop in Central Europe and has found a new market as a health food. Spelt is sometimes considered a subspecies of the closely related species common wheat (T. aestivum), in which case its botanical name is considered to be Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta. Wikipedia 2. A hardy wheat grown mostly in Europe for livestock feed. Princeton’s WordNet This latter definition is not to be confused with Dr. Samuel Johnson’s definition of oats: “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” In response, the Scots noted that, as a result, England is known for the excellence of its horses and Scotland for the excellence of its people.
Bread, (n) breadstuff, staff of life, food made from dough of flour or meal and usually raised with yeast or baking powder and then baked. Princeton’s WordNet.

Olives are kind of a tough sell around here, especially green ones. While we are free to substitute ingredients, and I often do where I feel the results are substantially similar, e.g. slivered almonds for pine nuts in the Pesto Pine Nut Bread, I have decided that, as for me and mine, I would not make a substitution for an ingredient solely on the basis that it was new or different or something I did not think I liked. (Expense, on the other hand, is a valid basis for substitution.) After all, one of the points of this exercise, for me, is to try new things and experience all the recipes in HB in 5. As Lyndah at Bloom,  Bake & Create put it, “it stretches me to bake breads I wouldn’t have even thought about trying.” And, as Kansas City barbeque legend Arthur Bryant put it when asked why he still fried his French fries in lard, “if you want to do a job, you do a job.” 

I decided to get “better” olives for this recipe, and opted for the “olive bar” rather than the jarred variety. Having tasted one (if you are not tasting you are not cooking) I admit they were much better than I expected, and so was the bread. First, I made a regular loaf. I usually make an elongated loaf rather than a boule, since I can get more uniform slices.

 Note the high-tech arrangement to help keep the dough from spreading too much as it rises—2x2’s. I wanted to incorporate duct tape into the design, but that just made a mess.

The bread baked up beautifully, and tasted very good, with a distinct, but not overpowering, taste of olives.

“Celebrating Spring” is the theme of this assignment.  And it so happened that on the first day of Spring we were having a group of friends over for dinner.  We had worked together almost 30 years ago, and have stayed close.  We dubbed the group the Magnificent Seven (not to be confused with either the Seven Samurai or A Bugs Life, although all three are basically the same movie), although there were usually either 6 or 8 in the group.   Anyway, I decided on a Spring theme for dinner.  Spring Rolls, Spring lamb with mint pesto, new potatoes with peas, chilled asparagus, and strawberry-rhubarb shortcake.

In addition, to all of the above I made one other recipe for our dinner that always reminds me of Spring.  It is not a very “haute” dish, it is Jell-O® (brand gelatin) based.  (As a learned college professor once famously observed, when Jell-O® was first introduced, it was amazing, like the iphone.  According to Wikipedia, before the invention of  Jell-O® “Gelatin was sold in sheets and had to be purified, which was very time-consuming. It also made gelatin desserts the province of the relatively well-to-do.”)   But it is a recipe my sister always made for Easter, and over the years it became  associated with Spring for me.  So it is more about the associations than the dish, but I do like it a lot.   It is savory rather than sweet, and green.  I confess that most of my family do not share my enthusiasm for it.  I continue to make it for Easter, however.  

Anyway, I know my sister would want me to share her recipe, so here it is:
Karen’s Lime Jell-O® Salad
1 Regular size package Lime Jell-O®
1 Small carton cottage cheese
3/4 cup Mayo
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
(Sugar free Jell-O®, and low fat cottage cheese and mayo are fine.) 
Dissolve Jell-O® in 1/2 cup boiling water, let cool to consistency of egg whites and whip until frothy (this “frothy” business never works for me but it is what the recipe says,  I skip it).   Stir in cottage cheese, then Mayo, then other ingredients.  Pour into an 8 inch square baking dish and refrigerate until set.  Serves 9 (or just me).  Double or triple for a large mold.  

This seemingly pointless tangent does connect, because for my Spring Dinner I also made the rest of the Olive Spelt dough into a focaccia.   

Unfortunately, by the time I remembered to take a picture, it had already been set upon.  As you can see, it was pretty well received.


The second task was the Carrot Bread.  I had been looking forward to this bread since I first saw it in the book, and I was not disappointed.  For the dried fruit I used a 7 fruit blend.  I baked the entire 1/2 recipe at once, which was a bit more dough than called for.  I also let it rise quite a bit longer than I meant to-- it was warm and sunny and I got to working in the garden, and next thing I knew

 I had a pretty full loaf pan.

It baked up beautifully, though it did take quite a bit longer to bake than the recipe suggested, no doubt due to the size of the loaf.   

I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else did with this dough.   
 Be sure to check out the links at Big Black Dog,  to do the same.  And be sure to tune in next time when we go gluten-free!



  1. Oh wow!! I love your contraption to keep the dough from spreading (mine did that a lot). I also thought this dough would make a great focaccia. The carrot bread looks great. I havent decided if I'm going to make a loaf or play with that dough

  2. Love the use of the 2by4's...LOL! I use PVC plumbing pipe in place of the wood and it works great! Use the same pipe to refrigerate logs of cookie dough and then they don't flatten on one side!

    WOW, your loaf of Olive Spelt turned out great. We really like the Olive Spelt bread and next time I make it, I'm going to visit the olive bar too and try some different varieties.

    I make a similar jello salad but add cream cheese, pineapple and walnuts. I love it and no matter how much I make it's gone by the end of the meal. Interesting with the onions though and I think I will make this soon!

    BTW, Jello was discovered and manufactured in LeRoy, NY and my family founded the area in the early 1800s.

  3. That's always a good sign when the bread is eaten before you can take a picture. Great job!

  4. How funny -- the jello salad is also like one my grandmother made for many family Sunday dinners. She used celery and walnuts instead of the cucumber. The associations are wonderful. (And, of course, your breads are beautiful!)

  5. Love your creative "Couche" for resting the bread. Your loaves turned out beautifully. Green Jello is an institution where I live.

  6. One can not read your posts without learning a great deal! Thank you for all the tips. Your breads all look wonderful.

  7. wow great breads and love the information on your blog Rebecca

  8. Great the wood idea!!!

  9. Your Olive Spelt Bread looks great. I love your "high tech" arrangement.

    My carrot bread took longer to bake as well. I baked it all in the same large pan.

  10. Oh, I am so going to copy your wood idea! I can't believe I didn't think of something like that when all my breads were spreading sideways instead of up! Thanks for that great tip. Your bread looks delicious, by the way. Fun idea to have a dinner on the first day of spring. Its always a pleasure to read your post- I love learning new things.

  11. A great job with the engineering and baking the breads.
    I'm with you on the "you're not cooking if you're not tasting"! LOL

  12. I wished I would have forseen the spread of this bread and build something like you did or placed it into a proofing basket. Your loaf looks great.

  13. 2x2's, what a great idea, and your so right about the duct tape, if there is a use for it us guys are gonna find it!
    Your olive bread looked great. The fact that you didn't get a picture of the focaccia is a testament to how good it must have been. The carrot bread also looked yummy. Great baking!

  14. Your post was so much fun to read and I love your 'asides'! Your Jello recipe brought back great memories. Years ago, my mother made a Jello mold with the lime or lemon flavor and put shredded carrots and lettuce in it and put mayonnaise in the center as the dressing.

    I think your olive bread turned out beautifully and great improvise on the spreading issue! I'm happy to see that I wasn't the only one with a flat-topped carrot bread. I used the whole batch for my loaf too and I think it was too much dough perhaps.

  15. So glad you made the spelt bread with olives from the olive bar...aren't they great?! I can't wait to make that bread. I've had the same experience with baking times when I make a big full loaf pan of my breads. Yours came out great! I think your longer rise time and cooking time were just right!

  16. Wow! Thanks for the explaining the history of spelt. Never heard of it before until I started baking from HBin5. And I love the Jello recipe. I have weird fasicination with Jello, for some reason. Think it's because I'm from the Midwest. I heard once that Iowans buy more Jello per capita than in any other state.

  17. I had to munch a few olives while I was cooking as well, but I was just trying to save myself the hassle of pitting them! Looks like the 2x4s did their job pretty well, your loaf turned out looking great.

  18. Your loaf looks beautiful! I keep trying to get my loaves to turn out so hasn't happened yet! :-)

  19. This is the saintly wife again. I love all these breads. I thought the olive bread was delicious but I am particularly fond of the carrot bread. It is a healthy form of carrot cake and I have always loved carrot cake. I also loved seeing Karen's recipe on your post.