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

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gluten-free Brioche and “Super Sam” Gluten-free Cinnamon Buns (36 of 42)

It is July already. And this July is kind of special. This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years, so it is probably the only time most of us will get to enjoy 5 TGIFs in July.  Similarly, October this year, which will be the month we complete our HB in 5 Baking Sojourn, will have 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays. This also happens every 823 years. Concluding our date topic, this year has four unusual dates: 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11; and that's not all... take the last two digits of the year in which you were born - now add the age you will be this year. The results will be 111 for everyone in whole world. (Thanks to Jenny Archer for this information.) 

This post is also the second annual installment of Destination Baking--once again we are in beautiful Bailey Island, Maine (our 10th year coming here).   We are having a wonderful time, but miss Marissa. 

We have enjoyed seeing wild turkeys and eating free-range lobsters. 

And if you are ever in the Mid-Coast Maine area, be sure to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay.  It is absolutely wonderful.

Now on to the baking.  In the interest of full disclosure, I baked the breads for this assignment at home before we left because it was easier to make the gluten-free dough there rather than schlep all the special ingredients to Maine.  But I did bake here.  I mixed up the dry ingredients for the Whole Wheat Master and the Quinoa Bread and brought them along in zip-lock bags.  Then when we got here I just needed to add water, mix, and let them rise. I used them to make boules, English muffins, focaccia, and sweet rolls. 
In the Quinoa Bread I used red quinoa from Trader Joe's, which showed up nicely both in the dough and in the finished bread. 

As for this assignment, it is our last assignment involving gluten free bread.  I made a half batch, since we were only making two breads.  While I sympathize with those who are gluten intolerant, I am glad I do not have to bake this way all the time.  I just never seem to be able to get the amount of ingredients quite right, whether I use volume or weight, although to some extent it may be that I am expecting the dough to feel more like dough with gluten.  "Not quite right" was certainly not the case with this dough, however.  I am not sure where I went wrong, but I must have been way off in my measurements.  I weighed the ingredients, and I wonder if one of my conversion factors was incorrect.  Judy over at Judy's Bakery and Test Kitchen posted on the discussion board that Jeff and Zoe had revised their weights for some of the ingredients, but I have not had the chance to check those against the weights I used.  Or maybe I just screwed up.  Whatever the cause, I ended up with a batter.  And a pretty thin one at that.  I worked extra flour into the dough (I used soy flour because I was low on the flours used in the recipe) until I thought it was about right, but it was purely by guess and by gosh. 
First up was a loaf of Gluten-free Brioche.  I used my brioche pan, and although the dough was sticky, much like a soft cookie dough, it was not hard to plop  it into the pan.  It baked up pretty well, and tasted good, especially toasted.  I have been trying to come up with a description of the texture.  It was sort of like a cross between a corn bread and a pound cake. 

The second part of the assignment was “Super Sam” Gluten-free Cinnamon Buns.  The buns were, as my peeps would say, a hot mess (especially right out of the oven). 
I knew I was in for trouble when the directions called for rolling the dough out on a silicone mat so that the mat could be used to help roll up the dough.  But at first things went pretty well.   I rolled the dough out using the silicone mat on the bottom and plastic wrap on the top--to prevent sticking. Then I topped it with brown sugar mixed with cinnamon and pecans.
I even managed to roll it up pretty well.  Then the hot mess.  The dough was very soft, perhaps because of my measuring issues.  And all that filling only made it worse.  It would not hold its shape as I tried to cut the rolled dough into slices.  So instead of nicely swirled buns, I ended up with amorphous blobs.  I kept waiting for Steve McQueen to show up.  ("It crawls.... It creeps.... It eats you alive!")
As you can see from the picture, my "buns" are even about the same color as The Blob--and they GREW too!!

 The two on the top, the last two I made, ALMOST look like buns, especially in the dark, without your glasses, if you squint, and have the light behind them.  (But then I look my best in those circumstances, too.)

So, instead of buns, I guess I made “Super Sam” Gluten-free Cinnamon Monkey Bread.
I topped it with the glaze and cut it into wedges to serve, having abandoned all pretense of buns. 
I must say it was wonderful, but then with all that sugar, cinnamon, pecans and glaze on top an old flip-flop would have tasted pretty good.

So that is it from Bailey Island, Maine.  We only have 6 episodes to go, so be sure to check in next time. 


  1. Oh, Guff, I LOVE YOUR POST! I laughed so hard at the trailer! That dough really was the blob!

    I love your pictures, too. What a wonderful vacation spot! Did you catch those lobsters? :-)

    Thanks for the credit on the gluten free flour weights. I'm glad that I don't have to eat gluten free, either.

  2. Love your humor!! :D And "The Blob" Both the movie ad and your rolls. So glad the rolls turned out fine. The ad - WOW! I saw that when I was a kid. And "The Tingler" with Vincent Price. Yes, I'm dating myself. If the current kids saw these movies, I wonder what they would think of them.
    Your vacation sounded wonderful. I so miss the east coast fresh seafood.