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, May 1, 2010

Milk and Honey Raisin and Chocolate Espresso Whole Wheat Brioche (8 of 42)

 Hurray, hurray, it's the First of May, . . .
And my lettuce sure looks great today!

While prior planning may not in fact always prevent poor performance (men plan and the gods laugh) I tend to think it does not hurt to try.  I am sure that when Julie Powell began blogging about her attempt to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking she never thought that it would culminate not only in a book but also in a movie in which Amy Adams would play her.  Well, I for one don't think it is too early to start thinking about who will play us in the movie about the HB in 5 Bread Braid.  (By "us" I of course mean those of us who fairly regularly blog about baking their way through the HB in 5 book according to Michelle's schedule.  "Us" does not include the infrequent contributors, the mere followers and lurkers, or the groupies.  Those roles are what "extras" are for.)

Since I would not ask you to do something  I am not willing to do myself, I will start the ball rolling by suggesting that Kevin Kline play me.  He is, after all, ruggedly handsome, has gotten better looking as he has aged, has a good singing voice, dances well, and has a wife who was extremely hot in her day.  And as if this were not enough, he was a Pirate King!  As Bill Murray said in Groundhog Day, me, me, me, and me again.

So, who should play you?  And, just for fun, who do you think should play our fearless leader, Michelle?  Post a comment to let me know who you think should play you and who should play Michelle.

Now, on to this fortnight's bread.  First I made the Milk and Honey Raisin.  I used egg substitute.  I also made a full batch, rather than a half, because I like raisin bread.  After seeing Cathy's chocolate espresso flower pot bread I decided to try baking this bread in a flower pot, using a 6" pot and following Cathy's directions for tempering the flower pot.  I cut a round of parchment paper for the bottom of the pot, and sprayed the pot well with cooking spray,  Then I put 2 pounds of dough in it to rise, and baked it.

I think it came out pretty well, though I had a little trouble figuring out the best way to slice it. 
 Although the recipe has you bake this dough  in a loaf pan, I next decided to try it as a free-form loaf, baking it at 450, with steam, on my stone, just as with any other loaf.  I brushed it with egg wash and sprinkled it with some raw sugar.

 I think I actually preferred it this way, with the crispier crust.  It was particularly good as cinnamon toast. My saintly wife pronounced it the best she has ever had.
Finally, I used the rest of the dough to make English Muffins (see my "technique" at Muffin Mania).

I do not bake my own English Muffins only because they taste great or just because I enjoy baking them.  I also do it to "walk the walk" with regard to my views on the importance of women's rights.  Since I have 3 daughters (as Aeschylus noted, "there is advantage in the wisdom won from pain") I feel that I am doing a sister a solid, or in my case 3 sisters three solids, and striking a blow against stereotypical views of women, when I bake my own English Muffins instead of buying them.  Thomas' English Muffins, you see, are (is??) owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA  (a subsidiary of Grupo Bimbo).  Seems pretty politically incorrect to me.  

The other task in this assignment was to bake Cinnamon Crescent Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing using the Chocolate Espresso Whole Wheat Brioche. I only baked half a batch, and they were very well received, despite the inartistic icing job. I left some un-iced, and they were very good too.

With the rest of the dough I baked a small plain loaf (the pan was slightly too small, as it turned out).

I had tried to come up with something fancy, but in the end opted for simplicity. As Einstein said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler."

To avoid being that one bit simpler, I did put some peanut butter on it!  Chocolate and peanut butter, who'd have ever thought?

That gave me an idea.  Perhaps channeling my friend Sharon, who is not only my favorite Elvis fan, but also the only person I know who has been pooped on by a pelican--and not once but twice . . .

I used the bread to make a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich--now how's that for TCB?

 And as for how it tasted, I can only say, WOW!
So, that is it for this time, and as Elvis would say, "thank you, thank you very much."


  1. That sandwich is my fav too!!! I just toast english muffin and add chocolate peanut butter and banana. Love reading your interesting post thanks!!!

  2. OMG! Never thought about peanut butter with the chocolate - Duh! Interesting info on the english muffins. I think I'll have to make them.

  3. Fabulous post - I think Julia Roberts should play Michelle - I imagine they both have such great smiles. Great job on all your bread too!

  4. Funny post! I'll refrain from picking any star to play Michelle but it would have to be someone with a hat and sunglasses ;) Good choice to pick Kevin Kline for yourself. I think I'll go with Goldie Hawn or, speaking of Kevin Kline, perhaps his co-star in French Kiss, Meg Ryan, to play myself ;)

    Oh yes, and your breads look great! I love the idea of the flower pot.

  5. Loved all your breads, especially the flower pot loaf. Decisions, decisions, I'd like Gwyneth Paltrow to play me, Why? Why not.

  6. Your breads looks great! I did not get the chocolate bread made but after seeing how it came out for everyone else I hope to make it soon. Chocolate and peanut butter, how can you go wrong. My husband and I also have 3 daughters, all grown up and flown the coop.

  7. ROFL great blog, I can see like me you had a fun time making the breads, if they didnt turn out as fancy as some they still taste great LOL

  8. That chocolate bread was definitely CRYING for a PB and banana sandwich. Beautiful.

    I also love the sound of those milk and honey English muffins...irresistible.

    I think Meryl Streep should play michelle. Any thoughts?

  9. LLOLLOLLOOLLOLLOL! You are too funny.

    As for who should play you, Kevin Kline is not a bad choice. But I think Kevin Costner would be a better fit and he is so good looking!

    Meg Ryan is perfect for Susan!

    And me, I think Diane Keaton would be a good choice.

    Bonnie seems like such a gracious lady. I think Meryle Streep would be a better fit for Bonnie but she wants Gwyneth Paltrow!

    Who should play Nancy-FemaleChef? Cher?

    Carolyn the Camp Baker? Maybe Bette Midler?

    Who's going to play Joanne?

  10. Oops I forgot Raelyn! I think either Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock for Raelyn.

  11. Saw Bette in Vegas, she definitely needs to be in the movie. Along with Cher. Would that make us gypsies, tramps and thieves?
    Kevin Kline just seems to have such a good time doing what he does, so I would prefer him. But Costner would be OK if Kline is not available. (But can he sing?) And if we have Costner, we would need Susan Sarandon. I had thought of Sharon Stone for my saintly wife. As for Joanne, Stana Katic? And what about Elwood. If we go with the (original) band of brothers thing, there is Kenneth Branaugh (Henry V). And I have always liked Kevin Spacey, who does southern well.

  12. For Elwood maybe Jake Gyllenhaal or Charlie Hunnam.

  13. Your flower pot bread looks delicious! I always love your posts. They keep me laughing.

  14. Great post. Great bread. I don't even want to speculate who should play me in the movie!

  15. omg.....LOVE the fried pb&j!!! Can Sandra Bullock be me? (I just love how silly she can be sometimes). And Meryl should be Michelle!! Ok, so who's gonna contact the director? LOL

  16. The raisin bread was delicious! Thanks for baking it and sharing it with your family. Sharon Stone? That is dreaming!