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. 


  1. I am also a groupie. Came to find out what I was supposed to do. I don't blog but do bake.

    You're post are the BEST!
    I bought sauerkraut but not rye berries. Have not made the pumpernickel dough because I didn't do well with making my own Carmel color. My husband loves the rye. umm better go bake.

    Thanks again for your post!

  2. I went off on my own tangent and did Piroshki to freeze for the coming visitors season :)

    Just love your blog.

    Merry Christmas to you and your Groupie.

  3. Guff, the 2-strand braid is one of my favorite braids and although one of the easier braids, I think it is the most attractive!

    I was just thinking of making some pumpernickel bread! We're bonding Guff! And I love the bi-color braid, so very impressive looking and I bet it tasted wonderful too!

    Sorry about the numbering system being off. I remember making up the HBinFive Schedule last December while I was baking cookies. LOL! I did major in math for a few years in college too but number systems were not in the book!

  4. What a beautiful-looking braid. Great idea to do a bi-color one. Love your post. I was wondering where the lost assignment went. Now I found it. Thanks! :)

  5. Good looking bread.
    Merry Christmas to you & yours!

  6. You're so funny! What a nice looking braid!! I like the way the darker color is to the outside. Thanks for including the video. I hadn't seen that one before. Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!!

  7. What a fun post! You must be really great in your work, you don't miss a thing!

    Thanks for putting the braiding video on your blog. Now I can find it easily! Just love your braid. I love the two colors.

    Happy Times for you and your sweetie!

  8. I've never tried any of this--the pumpernickels or a 2-stranded braid. You're busy! Happy Holidays.