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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Lost Assignment (23 of 42??)

About a year ago our fearless leader Michelle set up a Schedule for baking our way through Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  She gave us a different assignment for the first and fifteenth of each month for 42 assignments.  But she gave us today December 15, 2010, off.  Or did she? 

A careful perusal of The Schedule reveals that the assignment for last time, December 1st, was Number 22.  But the next assignment, for January 1st is Number 24!   And in between she has written "ARE YOU STILL WITH ME?"   So, do we really have an episode off, or is she testing us to see if we are paying attention?

Well, I have not missed an assignment yet, tfu, tfu, tfu, (that is me spitting to ward off evil spirits and/or to avoid tempting fate).  And just in case this is a test I do not plan to start missing assignments now.  Besides, have to keep posting because I have my Groupies to think of.

OK.  My Groupie. 

OK.  She is my wife.

But she is a hottie.

And she seems to really like my bread.

Anyway, about a year ago, during a similar hiatus, I posted about the Pumpernickel Date Walnut Bread from AB in 5.  This year I decided to reprise that loaf, but using the Bavarian-Style Whole Grain Pumpernickel Bread from HB in 5.  I weighed out the proper amount of wheat and rye berries, plus a few grams for the "Miller's Measure" (in this case the bit that stays in the mill), mixed them up and milled them in my Nutramill.  It doesn't get much fresher than that.  The only changes I made to the recipe were to include some instant espresso powder and some dutch cocoa powder as in the AB in 5 recipe and I omitted the caraway seeds called for in the HB version because I thought they might overpower the date/nut effect.   

All you do to make this bread is take a pound of pumpernickel dough, roll it out to about 3/8 inches thick, spread about 1/3 cup each of chopped dates and chopped nuts on the dough, and roll it up into an oblong loaf.  Then let it rise and bake it.


It turned out great, and is particularly good toasted.  

 Since I still had some pumpernickel dough left, and because I also had some of the WW Master recipe in the fridge, I also made a brown and white braid.   I did a two strand braid using the technique demonstrated in this slightly unusual YouTube video Michelle tipped us off to in one of the early discussion posts.

It baked up beautifully, if I do say so myself.

So, whether Michelle was testing us or not, here is my submission for The Lost Assignment.  I hope everyone has or had a great holiday of their choice and a has healthy, happy, prosperous and yeast filled new year. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Solstice Stollen (22 of 42)

So now we are into the second half of our Challenge.  Matt is so excited about starting the second half that he decided to dance for us:

Kicking off the second half of the Challenge is the Solstice Stollen.  I personally think you ought to finish one holiday before you start on the next, so I waited until AFTER Thanksgiving before baking for the Solstice.

We had Thanksgiving here.  This is my turkey

We had a Thanksgiving brunch to watch the parade, and I used some Pumpkin Pie Brioche from last episode, which I had frozen, to make the Pistachio Twist, only I made it as sweet rolls.  It was much easier and no explosion!

For Thanksgiving dinner I made some loaves of the Seeded Oatmeal Bread that Michelle made last time (we also had turkey and trimmings, to go with the bread).
Both were great.

With Thanksgiving behind us it was time for the Stollen.  This is my second go at Stollen, I made it last Solstice.   Stollen is a rich German sweet bread containing nuts, dried fruit, and such--it gets its name from Stollen, a wooden post or prop; so called from its shape. 

Last time I used almond paste, this time I used marzipan.  I also used some whole wheat flour I had freshly ground  instead of the white whole wheat the recipe called for.  I only made a half recipe, it was right after Thanksgiving, but I used the full amount of cardamom.  In addition, while looking for the cardamom I came across some dried orange peel, which I threw in as well.  I think it added a nice flavor.

Last year I noted that instead of baking your own, you could get a Stollen from Zingermans for $36, plus $8.99 shipping. You still can, or you can get one from Williams-Sonoma for only 29.95, plus shipping.  With the marzipan and the dried fruit I figured that I had about $4 invested in my half batch, or $2 per loaf.  

I rolled out the dough, formed a "rope" of marzipan, and "S" folded the dough over the marzipan.  I used my 1x2 couche to keep the loaf from spreading too much.

It baked up nicely, and the marzipan formed a nice, but still off-center, tunnel.  

We were also tasked with using the dough to make muffins.  I cut some pieces of marzipan and formed the muffins around them.  These worked out well too. 

We particularly enjoyed the Stollen toasted, which brought out the flavors nicely.  
So that completes the first assignment of the second half of the Challenge.  

All of us here wish all of you a safe and happy Solstice.