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, September 30, 2010

Whole Wheat Brioche or Pumpkin Pie Brioche (18 of 42)

OK.  Michelle, our fearless leader does a great job.  She is the best.  We all love her to bits.  And I know it is after Labor Day, so for many, but not all of us (e.g. Carolyn in Australia), Speedo/bikini season is behind us and our white shoes and belts (known locally as the "full Cleveland") are put away for the winter.  But......DAMN!  She put a Pear Tart, Sweet Rolls, AND Doughnuts all in the same assignment!  That just hurts the team--to say nothing of our figures.  Well, mine is not to reason why, mine is but to do and die[t].

We could make either Whole Wheat Brioche or Pumpkin Pie Brioche.  I made both.  I made the Whole Wheat Brioche because I had not yet made it and I wanted to try it.  I made the Pumpkin Pie Brioche because I HAD made it, in our first pre-season bake, and wanted to make it again.  Also, I thought the regular Brioche might work better with the pear tart[e] than the Pumpkin Brioche, which I thought would be particularly good with the sweet rolls and doughnuts.

Before I get to the cooking, I would like to share a new initiative related to that subject: The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.  According to their website, the Alliance "is a public-private initiative to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions."  The Alliance notes that
Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires—the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people in the developing world—causes 1.9 million premature deaths annually, with women and young children the most affected. Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating forces women and children to spend many hours each week collecting wood. Women face severe personal security risks as they forage for fuel, especially from refugee camps and in conflict zones. Cookstoves also increase pressures on local environmental resources (e.g., forests, habitat) and contribute to climate change at the regional and global levels.

For the  Pear Tarte Tatin with Brioche I made half a recipe of the Whole Wheat Brioche, using egg substitute and Land of Lakes Light Butter.  I used 1/2 pound for the  Pear Tarte Tatin.  I cooked the pears (I could only fit 4 pears in my 10" cast iron skillet) in butter and brown sugar with some star anise and cinnamon sticks.  I eschewed the optional cardamom rather than risk using to much, which I find off-putting.  Then I  topped the pears with rolled out brioche, and baked it.

It came out well.  I managed to hit the plate rather than the counter or the floor while  inverting it, and it was good with a scoop of vanilla fro-yo.  

I think that some ground cinnamon in the caramel, to give it a little more spice, might be worth trying.

With the rest of the dough I christened my new brioche pan.  This bread was outstanding.

Next, I made a full batch of the Pumpkin Pie Brioche, again using egg substitute and light butter.  Also, using  trick I saw on America's Test Kitchen for a more pumpkiny pumpkin pie, I used some drained candied yams along with the pumpkin.  (Both from cans not from scratch.)   ATK suggests 1 cup of drained yams to 1 can of pumpkin, but I did half and half, a can of each, and then used 15 ounces in the bread.  I also doubled the spices, which most of us who made this dough before thought was a good idea.  Once risen and rested I commenced to make the Honey Caramel Sticky Nut Buns.

I wanted to have them pretty early in the morning, so  made these the night before.  I rolled the dough, stretching the corners gently to make more of a rectangle.  For the gooey stuff, I reduced the honey, butter and brown sugar each from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup.  I think I still had plenty.  I kept the amount of nuts and raisins the same, but used craisins to go with the pumpkin.  I rolled it up, cut it into 12 slices and smooshed them into the pan. 

 I do not think that letting them rise the whole time in the fridge gives as good a rise, so I let them rise for an hour and then put them in the fridge.  They deflated some in the cold, wouldn't you, but not much.  Then I took them out and let them sit while the oven pre-heated.  They baked up fine, but I gave them an extra 5 minutes.  I did not want to overbake, but another 5 might not have been a bad idea,  perhaps because the dough had been in the fridge overnight. 
I baked them on a foil lined sheet to catch ooze.

My saintly wife and I each had one, then, for self preservation, we sent the rest to work with one of our daughters who is not only prefect but has red hair.   She stops on her way to work to drop off her Miniature Irish Wolfhound Chloe.   

Zoe(y) and I provide daycare.

The final diet-buster was Indian Spiced Whole Grain Doughnuts.  I made 6 instead of 12, thereby cutting the calories in half!  I rolled out the dough, cut the doughnuts with biscuit cutters, and then deep fried them.

I combined the sugar and spices in a paper bag, dropped in the warm doughnuts, and shook gently.  Viola!

 I put the leftover sugar/spice mixture into a shaker bottle to sprinkle on toast.

Since I had made a whole batch of dough I decided to do something a bit special with the rest, in honor of my sister-in-law Susan's 60th (yes, Sixtieth) Birthday. 
(Not a recent picture.) 

 I made a Brioche à Tête.

I was concerned that the "tête" would just sink into the brioche during the long rise, so I put it into a silicone egg poacher sprayed with cooking spray to rise separately.  Then, when I turned on the oven to preheat I plopped the tête onto the top of the loaf.  I let them get acquainted for about half an hour, then baked it.  

With the onset of fall (at least here in the northern hemisphere) I thought I would close with a couple of garden tips.  I went to an herb seminar by Jim Long, of Long Creek Herbs, and he had a guy's way of drying herbs.  Take a couple of handfuls and stick them in a brown paper bag.  Clip the bag closed (or use duct tape).  Then, throw the bag in the trunk of your car, or in the back seat.  Every couple of days, shake the bag.   When the herbs are dry and crisp (maybe a week, more or less) they are done.  (The bag absorbs moisture and keeps the herbs dark, the car is warm, at least if it is sitting outside in the sun.) 

Also, I grew a variety of cilantro called Caribe that I got from Pinetree Garden Seeds.  It was touted as being slow to bolt.  Some of  mine have not bolted yet, and those that did stood a long time before doing so.  (Your results may vary.) 

Well, that's it for this time.  Be sure to check out Big Black Dog to see what everyone else did with these breads.


  1. WOW WOW WOW I am almost ha ha embarrassed to post my link after seeing such inspirational work. My poor excuse is that I have been away camping and did it there. The plus was that I could give what I made away and I did that post haste. Again a wonderful lot of baking and I will copy the idea of the tete as some stage, thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm a little overwhelmed here--2 dough's, herbs AND Duct Tape! Everything looks were those donuts, you didn't say? Zoe(y) is really cute!

  3. Clarice,
    Doughnuts were great, especially warm with a glass of cider. I like Michelle's idea of a baked version, I may have to hunt me one of those pans.

  4. Wow! You did do a whole lot of baking. I'm so impressed.
    I have made the brioche from ABIn5 many times before and it really is one of my favourites.
    YOur Tarte Tatin looks especially lovely.

    I need to try the doughnuts next.

  5. I just have to repeat..WOW, everything looks so good. BTW, I think bikini/speedo season was over for me many YEARS ago. :)

  6. Ahhh...thank you sweetie! Love you back!!

    Everything looks just fabulous Guff! Love your new Brioche Pan, what brand is it? Your Brioche Crumb is perfect, so light and airy!

    Great idea to use a separate form for the "tete" on the Brioche à Tête. I have made Brioche à Tête before and my top "tete" did sort of round out a bit more then I would have liked.

    Also the doughnuts turned out very well. They turned out so perfectly formed!

    And the Sticky Buns looks so good, wish I had one right now! I am not a fan of cardamon so used cinnamon in the Tarte Tatin. However, every Sunday morning I enjoy my coffee with a tad of cardamon and heavy cream...yummy!

    Thanks for the info on drying herbs in the paper bag in your car. I've already copied and saved to my recipe program.

  7. Everything looks wonderful!! Did the yams help bring out any pumpkin flavor? Your doughnuts are so perfectly shaped. Alot of mine were stretched or elongated in shape. The brioche a tete is an interesting shape. I'd never seen that before.

  8. Tweety,
    When I combined the can of yams with the can of pumpkin I only used 1/2 of it for the brioche. The rest I used in a pie. I think it was more noticeably full flavored in the pie, but I assume that is due to the characteristic many of us have observed that WW flour tends to mute flavors. It was good in the brioche, though I don't remember exactly what the plain pumpkin was like last time I made it, and the side benefit is that you have enough extra to make a pie, too.

  9. Wow, I just love your folksy post!!!

    Great tips on the recipes, plus LOVE the one on the herbs! I have some basil I want to dry out....

    Your wife is a lucky woman.

  10. Lol...I managed not to drop my Pear Tarte Tatin on the floor either. All of your breads look great. I'm waiting to make the sticky buns until my son comes home from college this weekend.

    Great tips! Especially the ones about drying the herbs. I have mine in a paper bag, but didn't think about putting them in the car.