After one year and 104 recipes, I finished the Brooks Bakes Bread Project on March 27, 2012. You can still find me baking and cooking at my new blog, Tangled Up In Food.

Archives: September 2011

Cheese Bread
September 26, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 26, 2011
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“This rather unusual bread is delicate and moist, with an intriguing cheese bouquet and flavor.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Mike requested some sandwich bread for the week, so last night I made Cheese Bread.

Here are the ingredients:

Cheese Bread Ingredients

I used two of Beard’s variations suggestions: I substituted 1/3 cup olive oil for the 1/2 cup of butter, and used one cup of shredded Parmesan instead of a mixture of Parmesan and Gruyere.

The recipe starts out like a basic white bread dough: I mixed all of the ingredients except the cheese together to form a dough, kneaded the dough, and let it rise for two hours.  Then I had to knead in the cheese.  Luckily, it was much easier to knead shredded cheese into bread dough than it is to knead in an entire stick of butter.

I shaped the dough into two loaves to fit my 8 x 4 bread pans and let the dough rise for another hour and a half.

Cheese Bread After Second Rising

I baked the loaves at 375 degrees for 20 minutes; they increased in size fairly dramatically during baking.

Cheese Bread

Cheese Bread is amazing–it is a perfect loaf of basic white bread, blended with subtle flavors of Parmesan and olive oil.  Half of one loaf disappeared fresh from the oven; the other half lasted another 12 hours.  Cheese Bread is going on my “favorites” list.

Bread Sticks
September 25, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 25, 2011
Categories: Bread Sticks, Rolls
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“The bread sticks made from this dough taste yeasty and have nice crunch to them.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Flush with success from making it to the halfway mark of the Brooks Bakes Bread project yesterday, I wanted to bake some more bread.  I chose bread sticks since they would pair nicely with our dinner of salmon and boiled potatoes.

Ingredients:

Breadsticks Ingredients

The plastic bags in front are filled with poppy seeds and sesame seeds to sprinkle on the bread sticks.

Although very hands-on, this is a simple recipe: mix the ingredients together, knead the dough, and shape it into bread sticks.  Of course, I had a difficult time 1) dividing the dough into equal sections and 2) rolling the dough into decent-looking bread sticks.  As you can see, my bread sticks varied widely in length.

Breadsticks Before Baking

After a brief rising time of 20 minutes, the bread sticks were ready for the oven.  I used two oven racks, rotating the baking sheets halfway though the 30 minute baking time to ensure that the bottom bread sticks didn’t get over-baked.

Breadsticks

Despite their non-uniform appearance, the bread sticks were delicious: slightly chewy, with the perfect amount of salt and wonderful crunch from the sesame seeds.  Beard claims that they keep well for several days, but I doubt that we will be able to verify that–all the bread sticks will be gone well before then.

 

Golden Cake Batter Bread
September 25, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 25, 2011
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“A light, rather sweetish, easy-to-make bread that is similar to Sally Lunn.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Yesterday marked the official halfway mark for the Brooks Bakes Bread project: I made loaf number 52, Golden Cake Batter Bread.  The recipe can be found on the James Beard Foundation’s website.

Here are the ingredients:

Golden Cake Batter Bread Ingredients

The recipe starts out like a cake recipe: I mixed all the ingredients, except for 2 cups of flour, together with an electric mixer to form a thin batter.  Next, I mixed in the remaining two cups of flour into the batter to make a thicker, more dough-like batter.  I let this mixture rise for one hour, stirred it down, and let it rise for another 45 minutes.

Since I was concerned that my kitchen was too cool to allow for a good rise, I set my oven to “warm”, let it heat up, and then turned it off.  I placed the dough in the slightly-warmed oven for both of its risings.

Golden Cake Batter Bread After Second Rising

Mindful of the thick, tough crust that developed on my Sally Lunn bread, I pulled the bread out of the oven after only 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  It was perfect: fully baked and golden, but not overly browned.

Golden Cake Batter Bread

Golden Cake Batter Bread is very similar to Sally Lunn–perhaps a bit sweeter, but it shares the same rich buttery flavor and spongy texture.  When cooled, it makes excellent toast.

In the past 6 months, I have baked 52 bread recipes, most good, some mediocre, a few downright inedible (Prune Bread, I’m thinking of you!); washed innumerable dishes; hauled home at least a dozen sacks of flour; and logged hours blogging about it all.  It has been a lot of work, and sometimes additional stress.  But taste of fresh bread, the joy of discovering a new recipe, and the sense of accomplishment more than makes up for everything.  I can’t wait to see where the next 52 loaves take me.

Cream Biscuits
September 14, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 14, 2011
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“We had a reputation at home for very special biscuits…The secret of their unique quality is this: They use heavy cream instead of butter or shortening.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Whatever the calendar says, today was the first day of fall.  It was 46 degrees as we drove in to work this morning, there was a frigid wind as I waited at the bus stop, and tonight we have a frost advisory.  I needed something to make myself feel better about this whole fall thing, and a dinner of baked acorn squash and cream biscuits seemed like it just might be the thing.

The ingredients:

Cream Biscuits Ingredients

I mixed all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder) together, then slowly added the cream.  I had to use the whole 8 ounce carton, as well as a splash of whole milk, to get my dough to the right consistency.  It still seemed crumbly when I turned it out onto my kneading surface, but a bit of light kneading turned the mixture into a heavy dough.  I rolled it to a half inch thickness and cut out the biscuits using a round cookie cutter.

Cream Biscuits Before Baking

I baked the biscuits at 425 degrees for 12 minutes, which was enough to bake them to  golden-brown perfection.

Cream Biscuits

Dinner was wonderful.  As I ate my biscuits, with spoonfuls of moist, flavorful squash in between each bite, fall seemed a bit more bearable.

Although they are tasty, Cream Biscuits don’t have a fluffy texture like Baking Powder Biscuits–the cream makes them much heavier.  Personally, I prefer Baking Powder Biscuits, but Cream Biscuits are certainly delicious and well worth a try.

Sally Lunn
September 12, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 12, 2011
Categories: Batter Breads, Sally Lunn
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“This is an old, old recipe for Sally Lunn…It makes a beautiful standing loaf that, when fresh, should be torn apart with forks rather than cut, to maintain its lightness.  Or, after cooling, it can be sliced and toasted.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

After spending yesterday afternoon blogging about bread, I was in the mood to bake some more.  I settled on Sally Lunn as an easy recipe to try.

Here are the ingredients:

Sally Lunn Ingredients

I didn’t have enough all-purpose flour on hand, so I substituted bread (or hard wheat) flour.

Since this is a batter bread recipe, there is no kneading–I just mixed the ingredients together and let the dough rise for about an hour.  Then, I stirred the dough a bit and poured it into a Bundt pan (I didn’t have a regular tube pan, so I used my Bundt/fluted tube pan).  Then I let the dough rise for another hour and a half.

Sally Lunn After Second Rising

I baked the bread at 375 degrees for 30 minutes (15 minutes less than the minimum time recommended), and it was already becoming over-browned.

Sally Lunn

Sally Lunn tastes amazing–buttery with the perfect hint of sweetness.  When served hot out of the oven, it has a wonderful fluffy texture; when cool, it has a dense texture similar to a pound cake.  My only complaint is that the crust was too tough; I recommend keeping a very close eye on the bread and removing from the oven as soon as it starts to brown.

Dark Herb Bread
September 11, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 11, 2011
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“This makes a loaf quite firm in texture, with a delicious herby, peppery flavor that lasts.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Since I had some rosemary left over from making Pizza Caccia Nanza, I wanted to use it up to make Dark Herb Bread.  The only problem was finding the rye meal the recipe required.  I found some online, but with a hefty $8 shipping fee.  Instead, I bought some rye flakes from the co-op and ground them in the food processor.  Presto, rye meal in about 10 seconds, for only 71 cents.

Here are the ingredients (my improvised rye meal is in the bowl, which is unfortunately the same beige color as the meal):

Dark Herb Bread Ingredients

After my experience kneading a stick of butter into my bread dough to make Currant Bread, it was a relief to make a more straightforward loaf.  Due to the whole-wheat flour and rye meal, the dough was a bit stiffer than a typical white-flour dough; however, it still kneaded up well.

After an hour of rising time, I kneaded the dough again and shaped it into two loaves to fit into my 8 x 4 bread pans.  I let those rise for about 45 minutes, and then poked holes into the top of the loaf to insert slivers of garlic, just like I did for Pizza Caccia Nanza (however, unlike in Pizza Caccia Nanza, for Dark Herb Bread I chopped up the rosemary and mixed it into the dough).

Dark Herb Bread After Second Rising

After 20 minutes at 400 degrees, followed by another 20 minutes at 350 degrees, my bread was done.

Dark Herb Bread

Dark Herb Bread is delicious–the hearty texture is nicely complemented by the flavors of garlic and rosemary.  It should make some delicious sandwiches for a Sunday evening picnic.

Currant Bread
September 11, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 11, 2011
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“[Currant Bread], which I used to eat very often as a child, is a rich, flavorful, extremely pleasant loaf that keeps well and toasts magnificently.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

This week I made a trip to the Linden Hills Co-op to pick up ingredients for some upcoming recipes.  I hadn’t had any luck finding currants at my local grocery store, but the co-op had them in abundance.  Given my hatred of raisins, I was disappointed to discover that a currant is nothing more that a dwarf raisin.  But since I had to make currant bread, I decided to get it over with this past Friday.

Here are the ingredients:

Currant Bread Ingredients

After my experience with Prune Bread, I have decided that sherry is disgusting and contaminates everything it comes into contact with.  Instead, I marinated the currants in bourbon (Beard recommends using sherry, rum, or Cognac; if you can use any of those liquors, I figured bourbon would be fine).

Also note the two sticks of butter; those will come into play later.

The technique used for Currant Bread was unusual.  I started by mixing the the milk, some sugar, yeast, half of the butter, salt, and flour together to form a dough.  Then, I kneaded the dough and let it rise for about 45 minutes.  At that point, I punched it down and was instructed to knead in the rest of the sugar and butter along with all of the currants.  Huh?  It wasn’t clear to me exactly how I was supposed to knead in 1/2 cup of sugar, a stick of butter, and 1 1/2 cups of currants.  The answer?  With great difficulty.  Mike assisted by laughing and taking pictures as my bread dough degenerated into a gloppy mass of butter studded with currants.  There may have been some profanity involved.

Currant Bread Dough

At this point, with my hands glistening with butter, I abandoned any hope of the Currant Bread being edible.  I slopped it into two 8 x 4 loaf pans, let it rise another 45 minutes (surprisingly, it actually did rise–I figured all of the butter would weigh it down too much), and put it in the oven at 400 degrees.

Currant Bread After Second Rising

After putting the bread in the oven, I decided that it would be a good idea to fall asleep on our bedroom floor.  Luckily, Mike saved the day (and redeemed himself after making fun of my kneading attempts) by pulling the bread out of the oven before it burned.

Currant Bread

So what was the verdict?  Currant Bread did turn out better than I thought it would.  It has a surprising light texture for the amount of butter used, reminiscent of Portuguese Sweet Bread.  Yes, the currants do taste like raisins, but the bourbon gives them an interesting flavor.  And Beard was right–it does toast magnificently.

Currant Bread

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About the Baker
I'm a paralegal living and working in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Besides baking, blogging, and eating bread, I love knitting and enjoying the Minnesota outdoors. My husband, Mike, is the Brooks Bakes Bread website developer, bread photographer, and chief taste tester.
September 2011
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