Friday, December 28, 2012

Bread Baking Day #55: Colored Bread

2012 is ending on a tasty and colorful note thanks to Bread Baking Day #55.  This month's hostess, Katha, chose Colored Bread as the theme.

Making this bread was my Christmas day project.  I chose a braided egg bread from the Red Star Yeast website, and added coloring to each of the three pieces.  While I had wanted to use holiday colors (red and green), I was, alas, out of red coloring, so I used what I had available.

In this case, it was green, yellow, and violet.  King Cake colors.  Guess I'm ahead of the game here.  ;)

Regardless of the colors, this bread turned out great.  Besides tasting delicious, it's fun to see what patterns each slice has, and it's very tempting to just keep slicing.

Thanks to Katha for her choice of theme, and thanks to Zorra for creating such a delightful bread baking event.  I'm looking forward to the challenges of 2013.  

The roundup will be available after the first of the year at Katha's website.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BBB Buddy: Holiday Apple Kuchen

I am finally emerging from an extreme workload overload.  On Friday I sent off the last of three multi-year projects, and my brain is ready for some R&R (aka bread baking therapy).  I promised myself I would take off two days before the end of the year -- my birthday and Christmas.   One down, one to go.

Saturday, I tackled the bread project from the Bread Baking Babes, Holiday Apple Kuchen, this month hosted by Gretchen Noelle of Provecho Peru.  I've nearly forgotten what free time feels like, so this recipe was a great re-start recipe.  

I used a combination of Fuji and Granny Smith apples, and for the spice blend, I mixed cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cardamom.  This spice combo is one of my favorites.  I make streusel toppings frequently, so this was an easy step.  

Overall, the bread turned out fine.  It was difficult to tell since the dough was buried under the apple and streusel mixtures.  

I omitted the topping, but only out of sheer laziness, since I just wanted to eat the end-product without a lot of extra fuss.

It still tastes delicious this morning, and because the sun is out briefly, I improved on the 'slice' photo.

To try your hand it this, head over to Gretchen Noelle's blog for the recipe and the links to the other Babes' blogs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BBB Buddy: Pocketbook Rolls (aka Kissy Lips)

November's challenge from the Bread Baking Babes came just in time for Thanksgiving.  

Astrid found a delicious recipe for Pocketbook Rolls that were easy to make, especially since the dough can be prepared a day or two ahead of time.  

The only differences I encountered were --

rising time: it only took mine one hour to double in size.  Had I used the full 2.5 hours, I think they would have failed due to extreme over-rising;

and baking time:  while the recipe says 7-8 minutes, mine took about 12.

Otherwise, they turned out great, and disappeared quickly during Thanksgiving dinner, which I shared with my dear next door neighbor and her family.

If you wish to give these rolls a try, head over to Astrid's web site to find the recipe.  And, while you're there, check out rolls from the other Babes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Twd: Bagels

Today is a triple bread whammy day.  My previous post shared the bread I made for World Bread Day and for the Bread Baking Babes.   

Today is also the posting day for the Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia baking group.   This go-round, we all baked bagels. 

I've made bagels before using other recipes, so I was a bit surprised that there wasn't a second rise.  It clearly didn't seem to matter, however. 

During the boiling phase, I timed the bagels for one minute on each side.  The end-result was a bagel that had just the right amount of chew.

I did conduct an experiment of sorts.  For the first batch, I did not use the egg white wash.  The bagels baked up with an obvious uneven surface, but the taste was not compromised.

For the second batch, I brushed the bagels with the egg white wash and sprinkled on some sesame seeds and some poppy seeds.   This batch looked more like the traditional bagel, so it seems that the wash is a useful step in the process.

Our bagel hostess this month is Heather of Heather’s Bytes  Stop by Heather's blog for more information about the recipe, then head over to the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see how the participating bakers fared.

Triple bread whammy

Today is a triple whammy for bread bakers. 

First up is the combination World Bread Day challenge and Bread Baking Babes' Buddy challenge.  

Looks complicated, no?   But this lovely Russian Braid is easy, easy.

 I was pleased to learn a new technique with this bread and that's what made it so much fun.  Check out this YouTube video to learn the secret.

After I took this photograph, I replaced the 10-inch springform pan with a 9-inch one.  I didn't think there was any way that the bread would rise to fill this pan.

Some of the bakers chose a savory filling of pesto and cheese.  For me, this bread just screamed cinnamon, so I decided to make a very large cinnamon roll.   I was not disappointed in the end-result.

Figuring out how to slice this beauty was a challenge.   Because each slice had a different pattern, it was a surprise every time.    

Sadly, the last piece disappeared yesterday.  Even so, I'm sending this virtual Russian Braid over to Zorra's blog for World Bread Baking Day.  Every year I look forward to seeing what all the participants bake.

The remaining virtual pieces will go to the Bread Baking Babes.   This was one delicious Buddy challenge!  

For the basic recipe, head over to The Fresh Loaf.  However, if you check out the various blogs, you will find an amazing variety of flours, seeds, and fillings.  It is truly a versatile loaf of bread.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TwD/BwJ: Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf

Surprise, surprise!  I'm actually posting on time for once.  

The house has cooled to a balmy 85 degrees (at 10:30 pm), so I'm ready to roll.  

The first October recipe is a fall favorite:  cranberry walnut pumpkin bread.   (That would be fall in a normal place, not southern California.  Fall here translates to 100+ degree temperatures.  Not my favorite time of year here.)  Even so, this is a terrific flavor combination.   

This bread also threw many bakers for a loop.  It's a yeast bread, not a quick bread, and it requires some ahead-of-time planning, since it rests in the refrigerator overnight.  That resting helps improve the texture and flavor, so, although you can skip it, I wouldn't.  

I had all the ingredients on hand, including frozen cranberries.  They were fine, but I'd probably use dried cranberries the next time.

All in all, this was a straight-forward recipe.  The dough rose nicely both times, and the bread baked up beautifully.   Because of the cinnamon and nutmeg, there is a lovely spicy background note.  The slices taste fine either toasted or plain. 

This pumpkin bread was hosted by Rebecca at This Bountiful Backyard.   Other bakers will post on the Tuesdays with Dorie website so you can read all about their trials and tribulations with a yeasted dough.

(I truly have been baking along all these months, but I have been neglecting the posting part.  Work has been overwhelming of late, but I foresee some breaks in the coming weeks, so I'll do my best to get caught up with the posts.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

BBB Buddy: Molasses Fennel Rye Bread

Here we are at the end of September and I see that very little has been posted on this blog.  I truly have been baking, just not posting.   I attribute this lack to an overload of work and hot weather.  It's difficult to concentrate on anything when the inside of your house is 90 degrees.   All the work doesn't help, either.  For some reason, I feel obligated to meet my deadlines, so, in the meantime, other tasks fall by the wayside.   

Baking bread, however, never gets put aside. 

This month, Elizabeth, from the Bread Baking Babes, chose this scrumptious bread for the group.  I had all ingredients on hand, although, upon inspection, I did need to buy a fresh jar of wheat germ.  Taking Natashya's advice, I used my stand mixer to make the dough, so the whole process was a breeze.

I've been munching away on this bread for several days now.  I love the molasses flavor and the sweetness that the raisins provide.  I used golden raisins, and it occurred to me that adding some toasted nuts might add some texture and that little bit of something extra.  I've also spread the slices with some homemade apple butter, which pairs well with either plain butter or cheese.

I do believe that the bread-baking events are my favorite ones at the moment, especially with my limited free-time schedule.  Perhaps if my workload decreases ever so slightly, I can write about the goodies I have been making in the last month or so.   For now, this will have to do.  

On tap next is World Bread Baking Day.  Deciding what to bake is always challenging and fun.

Thanks to all the Babes for letting me bake along this month.  For the recipe, head over to any of their blogs.  This bread is definitely well worth making.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

BBD#53: Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Swirl Bread

A is for August.

A is for Aggravating.

Aggravating August.

I'll be glad to see it leave, Blue Moon notwithstanding.

On August 1, I accidentally fell, landing on my left wrist.  It was unusable for over 2 weeks.  Now, on August 31, I can actually lift a frying pan again, although there are some strange lumps remaining.   

That's how the month began and it didn't get much better.    I missed the french bread baking event because my wrist wasn't up to kneading.

I did manage to make my swirl bread, though, for this month's Bread Baking Day.  That's because the dough was already made -- the other half of the french bread dough from the previous post.

I rolled out the dough flat, then layered it with some diced sun-dried tomatoes and topped that with grated Parmesan cheese.  Definitely, a yummy combination.

So, I'm sending this over to Shelley at C Mom Cook.     She's the hostess this month for Swirly Breads.  The most difficult part was deciding on the flavor of the swirl, so it will fun to see what the other bakers chose for their swirls.  

Also, be sure and stop by Zorra's website to learn about all the previous Bread Baking Days and see some fantastic food.

Here's hoping September is a more friendly month.   I'm looking forward to resuming my baking and blogging.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

BBD #52: French Bread

For Bread Baking Day #52, this month's hostess, Cinzia of Cindystar, chose French bread. 

With time in short supply this month, I chose to bake one of my favorite French breads from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook.  It's quickly put together, has great oven spring, and crackles loudly while cooling -- my favorite sound!

There are no photos of slices because I gobbled it up that quickly.  But, not to worry, there is more dough in the fridge waiting to be baked.  I'll probably do a boule this time, then make more dough because this is that good!

Thanks to both Zorra and Cinzia for this month's challenge.  Now I have to send it off quickly, and hope I'm not too late.

If you want to try your hand at this delicious French bread, head over to this website for the Master recipe.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

BBB Buddy: Easy Little Bread

It appears that I have been remiss in updating my blog this month.    

My only excuse has been work, and, while I still have projects galore, I am reminded by recent events that work shouldn't be the only thing going on in my life.   I need to slow down and smell the roses, or, in this case, the bread.  

Sara, one of the Bread Baking Babes, chose a quick and easy yeast bread for July's adventure.

Truly, this bread was quick and easy.   

My bread rose in the pan, but did not have much, if any, oven spring.

It tasted fine, although I wasn't too keen on the texture.

That being said, it disappeared quickly, so it must not have been too bad.   I have to say that I did miss having a well-rounded loaf with a good texture, but, in a pinch, it's a good recipe to have around.

For the recipe and to see how the other Babes fared, head over to Sara's blog.

Now, I need to make some headway on two week's worth of fruits and vegetables before I pick up my next CSA box on Tuesday.  Maybe I'll throw some more bread making into the mix as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

BBD#51: Bread with Beer

To celebrate the 5th anniversary of Bread Baking Day, Zorra, the founder and this month's hostess, challenged all bread bakers to make a bread with beer.

Having recently made a beer bread, I still had several bottles of beer remaining, so the search was on for a new recipe. 

I found a rye bread for which I had all the ingredients and for which I made minor substitutions -- medium rye for dark, regular beer for light.   The end result was a delicious bread, good toasted or made into sandwiches.

I had hopes of enjoying this bread for several weeks, but due to a recent freezer malfunction, that was not to be.  Half a loaf went to my dear neighbor yesterday, and the other half sits on my counter, waiting to be consumed along with other bread products.   Bummer.  (For the freezer problem, not the bread.)

So, I'm sending this bread over to Zorra for the Bread Baking Day #51 celebration.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the other bread bakers submit.


2 cups dark or medium rye flour
2 teaspoons yeast
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour  
12 ounces beer
15 ounces warm water
4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds

Combine beer and water in a large bowl. Add yeast and stir until completely dissolved.  Add rye flour and 3 cups of AP flour in a bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer.  Stir until thick batter forms.  Cover and let rest until mixture begins to bubble, about 2 hours.

Stir in reserved 2-1/2 cups flour, salt and fennel seeds.  Mix in the electric mixer or knead on a floured surface.  You will probably use about 1/2 cup additional flour for kneading.  It's a very sticky dough, but adding too much flour will make your bread more dense. 

Return dough to bowl, cover and rest for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Place dough on floured surface and divide into two or three pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place in forms or shape as desired.   Let rise until double in size, about 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Slash loaves with a razor blade.  Slide loaves or pans into oven.  Reduce heat to 425 degrees F after 5 minutes of cooking.  Bake for another 25 minutes or until bottom of loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.