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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One person, Greg Craven, has suggested changing the question from "which side is right" to "what is the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risks involved?" To me, this seems like a very productive way to refocus the conversation. So, if you are confused about, concerned by, or interested in the issue of global warming please take a few minutes to watch his VIDEO. If you find it interesting or helpful, please pass it on to others.

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, June 1, 2011

Betsy's Seeded Oat Bread and Provençal Fisherman’s Bread (Pain Bouillabaisse) (34 of 42)

It's bustin' out all over.  The rains continue, and it appears that the ducks--Fred and Ethel--are here to stay.

I thought I would start with an observation on fashion, being a 21st century metrosexual male and therefore fully qualified to opine on the subject.  Not all progress is good, but with regard to some things, it clearly is.  In the category of the latter, we all should be glad that the attire in this video has gone out of style, especially, I am led to understand by the star of the film (who is an interpreter at an historical site and one of my peeps), when it comes to going to the bathroom:

 Now, on to the baking.

I don't know Betsy, who apparently asked Jeff and Zoë to develop a loaf "full of tasty and nutritious seeds," but the eponymous Seeded Oat Bread they developed for her is terrific.  At Michelle's suggestion I had made it before, and was happy to have an excuse to make it again.  This bread has rolled oats, whole pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, and ground flaxseed.  It is lightly sweetened (I used honey, but you can use barley malt or agave syrup) and enriched with a bit of oil.

I made a full batch, and used half to make two loaves.  Instead of sprinkling seeds on top, I sprinkled them on the counter and rolled the loaves in them as I formed them.  I think this works much better because the seeds adhere more securely and reliably.   

I used the rest of the dough to make English Muffins.
 In previous posts (e.g. Muffin Mania) I have described my English Muffin Method--using parchment paper to get the muffins onto my electric griddle after they have rested and risen.  In sum, I roll out the dough, cut it with a biscuit cutter, and place the muffins on parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.  I then dust the tops with more cornmeal and let them rise.  Then I cut the paper around each muffin and use a spatula to move paper and muffin to the griddle.  I cook the muffins about 7 minutes on each side, and after about 4-5 minutes on the parchment paper I slide the muffins off (or the parchment paper out) for better browning.   This method has worked for me--it avoids mangling risen muffins which have gotten stuck to the peel or counter--but  cutting the paper was a bit fussy.  So, I decided to try a more global approach.

I cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of my griddle (trust me, this is less painful if you do it before you preheat the griddle), put it on a cookie sheet that had no rim on one side (or use the bottom of a rimmed sheet) dusted it with cornmeal, made my muffins, placed them on the parchment paper, dusted the tops with cornmeal,  and let them rise just as usual.  

But instead of cutting the parchment paper I slid the whole shebang right onto the griddle.  
 Then, after 5 minutes, I picked up one end of the paper and slid the muffins off the other end.

It worked pretty well, certainly well enough to supplant my old method. The only problem was that the paper was kind of long and awkward to pull out.  Next time, especially if I am not making quite so many muffins, I would leave a bit of space through the middle, cross-wise, and once it was on the griddle cut the paper in half.  Then I could work from each end to the middle to get the muffins off, which might be a bit easier.

As for the muffins, they were terrific.  By way of experiment, I worked craisins into some of the muffins, this too was a great success--I wish I had added craisins to more of them.  

The next assignment was for Pain Bouillabaisse, a  Provençal Fisherman’s Bread.  I was a bit leery of this bread, largely because it had sliced fennel bulb in it, and I am not a big fan of licorice.  As is often the case when expectations are modest, I was pleasantly surprised. (As the saying goes, expect less and you (usually) won't be disappointed.  A related concept holds that you should borrow money from a pessimist (or in the case of my children, your parents), because they don't expect to get it back.  There is also a corollary  approach to happiness which posits that you should live simply, give more and expect less (good luck with that, let me know how it works for you).) 

 In addition to the fennel this bread had garlic, herbes de Provençe, and saffron--traditional flavorings for a Bouillabaisse.  No fish, however.  For the saffron I used threads rather than powder, and steeped them in the water I used to make the bread.  They imparted a lovely color. 
I baked the loaf in my perforated bread pan, and it turned out great.  The crust was soft, but I am not sure if that was due to the oil in the dough or if I slightly undercooked it. 

 Either way, the bread was very nice.  I could not identify any particular flavor, certainly not licorice.  But the combination of herb[e]s with the garlic and the fennel was very very pleasant. The only down side to making this bread is that bulb of fennel, which I do not usually have in the crisper pan.  That makes this pretty much a "special occasion" bread. 
Finally, another experiment.  I had seen a Food Network recipe for Chicken Pot Pie Turnovers. The recipe used frozen puff pastry.  Now I love chicken pot pies, but they are not the most healthy of entrees.  So I thought, what about Chicken Pot Pie Calzones?  I mixed some left over chicken with some defrosted frozen mixed vegetables and some chicken gravy.  I used about a cup of each.  My goal was to not get it too saucy, so I kept the gravy fairly thick.  Then I rolled some Whole Wheat Master dough out thin into circles, spooned on some filling, folded them, sealed the edges, cut some slits in the top, and baked them at 375 for about 30 minutes.  Then the hard part, I let them rest about 10 minutes.  

They worked out pretty well. 

So that is it for this time.  The countdown continues with 8 to go. 


  1. They all look delicious, Guff! You're an inspiration as always. :)

  2. Guff, you are always a source of inspiration and SMILES!!!

    I'll have to try these breads.

  3. Love the parchment paper english muffin technique and I'm going to copy and paste it into my Baking Tips file for future reference! I love nothing better then English Muffins so I'm sure it will come in handy the next time I make them!

    Betsy's Seeded Oat Bread is definitely in my top 3 favorite breads but I can never get enough seeds in bread!

  4. You have such great ideas! Love the tips for making English muffins. You've inspired me to try these breads. Thanks!