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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bradley Benn’s Beer Bread and Cracked Wheat Bread (31 0f 42)

Spring is coming to the North Coast.  Slowly perhaps, but it is coming.  
Here is my first harvest of the year (or the last of last year), overwintered parsnips. 

I recently made a recipe for a breakfast charlotte which called for using Soft White Bread pressed into a springform pan to make the crust.  Soft White Bread was necessary since it will smoosh together well.  So, for the first time in over 2 years I bought some Soft White Bread (which had been our bread of choice for more decades than we would like to admit to).   As I was making the crust I tried a bite of the bread.  Julia Child was right (as I should have known).  It does taste like Kleenex!

When I saw that this assignment included Bradley Benn’s Beer Bread I got really excited.  We used beer in the Emmer Bread last time, and that worked out GREAT.  The Bradley Benn’s Beer Bread recipe was, however, a total disappointment.  The Emmer Bread only used 1/4 cup of beer, 2 ounces, leaving 10 ounces for the Baker.  The full recipe of Bradley Benn’s Beer Bread I made used 1 1/2 cups of beer--12 frickin' ounces--THE WHOLE BOTTLE!  So while the bread got leavened, the Baker did not.

The actual bread turned out pretty well.  It has some rye in it, in addition to the beer, and it is stuffed with a mixture of sautéed onions and walnuts.  (What I thought were walnuts in the fridge turned out to be pecans, so I used those.)  It was also good toasted. 

Since I had made a full batch, I also baked some without the filling.  It was a little dense, but tasty, and you could actually make it in 5 Minutes a Day, which is kind of a stretch if you have to sauté the onions first.

I also used some of the dough to make Pigs in a Blanket.  For the Pigs I used some chicken sausage.  On the basis that turnabout is fair play, it seems to me that if pork chunks on a stick are called City Chicken, then chicken sausage wrapped in dough can be called Pigs in a Blanket.   I rolled some dough out to about  a 1/8 inch thickness, cut it into rectangles appropriate to the size of my Pigs, sprinkled on a little shredded cheese, rolled up the Pigs, set them on parchment paper and slid them into a pre-heated 425 degree oven. 

 I baked them for about 20 minutes.  (Since the sausages were fully cooked, I did not have to worry about that, thought I think they would have cooked through anyway.) 
I served them with some marinara sauce. " That'll do, Pig[s]."

The second assignment was Cracked Wheat Bread.  My first thought was that Cracked Wheat meant Bulgur.  But apparently they are not the same thing.  According to Wikipedia, "Bulgur for human consumption is usually sold parboiled and dried, with the bran partially removed. Bulgur is sometimes confused with cracked wheat [see?], which is crushed wheat grain that has not been parboiled." Since I have buckets of wheat berries, I decided to try to "crack" my own.  After a quick search on the web, I got the impression this was easy to do in a food processor, so I dumped a cup of wheat berries into my food processor, with the steel blade, and let 'er rip.  For a long time.  And not much happened to the wheat berries.

I wondered it the bowl of the processor was too big.  It seemed that the berries just rode around without making significant contact with the blades.  So I dumped them into my mini food processor and tried again.  That did the trick!  In addition to the cracked wheat I also got some wheat dust.  I sifted this out, using a fairly coarse strainer. 

 Since this "dust" seemed to me to basically be flour, I used it as part of the flour in this recipe. 

 The dough was wet when first mixed, which I expected since the cracked wheat was not soaked, but it firmed up in the fridge.  I formed two baguettes, and as I was forming I rolled one in some of the leftover cracked wheat, as an experiment.  We thought that the added crunch was a nice touch.  

These loaves baked up nicely, with a good crumb.  We both enjoyed them very much.  
So that concludes another episode of The Dough Also Rises. 
Be sure to tune in next time for 10-Grain Bread and Buckwheat Bread (I don't know about you, but I am excited).


  1. Great post! I love your chicken pigs in a blanket. I haven't gotten to these breads yet, but I definitely want to make the cracked wheat bread. Thanks for the tips on how to make cracked wheat. Using a mini food processor is a great idea.

  2. (giggling at the baker not getting leavened). I love the pigs in a blanket idea. Your breads look great! I haven't done any of the actual assignments for a month now. about time I got back on track :)

  3. Your beer bread looks great. I also baked it without the walnuts, and I liked it fine. It was a little dense, but that just soaked up the juice from my red beans and rice. Since I only made 1/2 recipe, the baker had a chance to get a little leavened. :)

    Pigs in a blanket..I'm defintely going to try that.

  4. Good to know a food processor, especially a mini one can handle wheat berries. I feared the worst when I started reading what you had done! I have fond childhood memories of pigs in a blanket--I'll have to try those with sausage. Your breads look good,as always.