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.

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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, August 14, 2010

Rosemary Flax Baguette and Vollkornbrot (15 of 42)

You know, sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.  (Or as Paul Valery somewhat more elegantly put it, "At times I think and at times I am."  Not to be confused with René Descartes' famous "Cognito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am."))  Well I was sitting and thinking the other day, thinking about what bread I was going to bake to have with dinner.  I had 2 or 3 different HB in 5 doughs sitting in the fridge and I was considering which one to use and how to use it--boule, grilled flatbread, focaccia, buns . . . .  And it struck me, that is the great thing about the AB/HB in 5 method.  I was not wondering whether to make freshly baked bread, but what kind of freshly baked bread I was going to make.  It is just so easy.  If you have not tried baking bread this way, please do.  

This particular assignment was a bit tricky to fit into our schedule since, in celebration of our 35th wedding anniversary, my saintly wife and I went on a Baltic cruise and they would not let me use the galley to bake my bread.

One of our stops was Gdansk, where they were holding the 750th St. Dominic's  Fair (which makes 35 years seem like not much of a big deal).

They had some pretty good looking bread on offer, but we did not have any spare zloties (or groszies) so we just looked.  (They also had bungee jumping, we just looked at that, too.) 

Something to aspire to.

The first task of this assignment was a Rosemary Flax Baguette.  I baked it for one of our Mag-7  dinner parties.  (As always, I ate too much, especially of Greta's hors d'oeuvres.)  I followed (to the best of my ability) the directions  for shaping baguettes posted at Judy's Bakery and Test Kitchen.   After using my gluten-free "batter" last time, it was nice to work with a dough of a more normal consistency. 

I don't think I did too bad a job forming the baguettes.  I put them on parchment paper to rise, and used my trusty 1x2s to keep them from spreading.   Once they had risen, I slashed them and decorated the slashes with rosemary sprigs. 

They baked up beautifully, and tasted great too.

I did not use all the dough for the baguettes,  so the next day I rolled out a piece and threw it directly onto the grill grates while I made some Grilled Potato Hobo Packs.  Both turned out very well.

I still had some dough left, so I decided to make a Pissaladiere.

Planning ahead, I had made some Baked Caramelized Onions, reducing 6 pounds of yellow onions to about 2 1/2 cups.   It took quite a bit longer than the recipe indicates.  Also, I do not think it is necessary to stir as often in the beginning as recommended, and I removed the lid about half way through because my onions were pretty juicy.  On the other hand, baking the onions was much less hands-on than doing it stove-top.  Fortunately, we have an "I cooked so you wash up"  rule (be SURE to spray the pot with cooking spray).

So, to make a Pissaladiere I rolled out the rest of the Rosemary Flax dough, grilled it on one side, flipped it over, topped it with the onions, which I warmed up in the microwave, some anchovies and Kalamata olives, and finished grilling it.  Took about 7 minutes, start to finish!

The next project was Vollkornbrot.  "Vollkorn" is German for whole meal or whole grain, "brot" is bread or loaf.  Jeff and Zoe translate it as "whole kernel bread."  It has wheat berries and rye flakes in it.  If you do not want to go to the trouble of baking this bread you can buy a loaf from Zingerman’s for $7.50, plus $12 shipping.

This loaf definitely lives up to its name.  It is dense, dark and heavy, all in a good way.  

 The only issue I had was that it seemed some of the wheat berries had not softened, though I let it rest plenty long.  I wonder if the crunchy ones might have been on the crust, and got dried out again in the oven.  My saintly wife liked the crunch.  We also thought this bread was particularly good toasted. 

So, neither jet lag nor airport security nor currency exchange rates nor distance from the kitchen kept me from the completion of fortnight's assignment.  Next time it is 100% Whole Wheat, Plain and Simple (kind of like me).  Be sure to check out what everyone else did with these breads at Big Black Dog.


  1. I too have been traveling and did not again finish my assignment in time but I have enjoyed reading your post. I'm impressed that you made both breads. They look wonderful.

  2. So glad you enjoyed the Vollkornbrot because we absolutely loved it!

    And your Rosemary Flax Baguettes are gorgeous! Absolutely perfectly shaped too! Love the 2by2 forming method...LOL! Hey it works great!!

  3. Ooops forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS on the 35th wedding anniversary!

  4. Enjoyed your post, I also loved the 2x2 method and will give it a try up the track.

  5. Congratulations on your anniversary! What dedication to still post in first place!

    So, you've made your own couche? Do you slide the baguettes off the parchment onto the stone? I use a baguette pan, and was wondering if a couche is hard to work with. Beautiful breads!

  6. Congrats on 35! Your baguettes are shaped beautifully. I really like the idea of 1x2's also. The vollkornbrot looks really good too.

  7. Clarice,
    I put the loaf on the stone while still on the parchment paper, and then slide the loaf off the parchment paper about 2/3 of the way through baking. I had so many frustrating experiences with sticking dough that I now use parchment paper almost all the time.

  8. I always love reading your posts, because I learn something! Thanks :)

  9. Great post as usual. Your breads look wonderful. I love the addition of the rosemary sprigs on top of the baguettes.