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: October 2011

Monkey Bread
October 31, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 31, 2011
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“This is a sensationally good and oddly textured sweet bread or coffee cake.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

The last time I made Monkey Bread was in seventh grade Family Consumer Science class (aka “home ec”).  We used refrigerated biscuits that we cut into quarters, arranged in a Bundt pan, and then dumped a homemade caramel sauce over the whole thing.

The Beard version of Monkey Bread requires you to actually make the bread dough yourself, but other than that the technique is the same.

Here are the ingredients:

Monkey Bread Ingredients

I skipped the currants the recipe calls for, due to my deep-seated hatred of them as miniature versions of raisins.  Also, I think the idea of caramel with raisins is disgusting purely on principle.

Monkey Bread starts as a fairly basic, albeit rich, white bread dough.  After the first rising (an hour and a half), I pulled off little chunks of dough, rolled them in melted butter and brown sugar, and then arranged them in a Bundt pan.  Mike graciously agreed to help, and we created a little Monkey Bread assembly line.

Monkey Bread After Second Rising

After letting the dough rise again (for only half an hour, since I was getting hungry), I baked the bread at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  The caramel sauce did overflow from the Bundt pan, creating a small mess in my non-self cleaning oven (Mike was nice enough to clean that up, too.  He is really the best husband a bread baker could ask for).

The finished product looked quite lovely, if I may say so myself:

Monkey Bread

Beard’s Monkey Bread recipe was quite good (the only way for something with two sticks of butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar to not be good is to add raisins to it).  But as I pulled of little chunks of bread, I felt somewhat nostalgic for my Family Consumer Science Monkey Bread.  Yes, the bread itself was obviously better than refrigerated biscuits.  But one thing that recipe had going for it?  Lots and lots of caramel.  Beard’s recipe has a mere glazing.  Now, if only I still had that class hand out…

County Fair Bread
October 29, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 29, 2011
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“When well made, this slightly sweet braided loaf looks exactly as if it would win first prize at the fair.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Thanks to a very hectic week full of knitting, house hunting, yoga, and even a nightime Halloween tour of the state capitol, I am finally posting now (the wee hours of Saturday morning) about a recipe I made last Sunday.

Here are the ingredients:

County Fair Bread Ingredients

I used hard wheat, or bread, flour instead of all-purpose.  I found the massive bag of sesame seeds in the Indian foods section of the grocery store–it was more cost effective than the little bags of sesame seeds over in the spice section, although I now have huge bag of sesame seeds in my pantry.

The bread kneaded up nicely.  My rising times were a bit on the long side, an hour and a half each for the first and second risings.  I did a decent job of braiding my dough into loaves, and they looked downright impressive once I had sprinkled on the sesame seeds (in a surprisingly even fashion for once).

County Fair Bread After Second Rising

Because I don’t share Beard’s love affair with all things butter, I sprinkled the baking sheet with cornmeal instead of buttering it to prevent my loaves from sticking.

The loaves rose substantially during baking time, and were finished after what I think was 30 minutes in the oven (the details are starting to get foggy after almost a week).

County Fair Bread

I don’t think that my loaves were quite up to first prize at the county fair standards, but hopefully I would get an honorable mention.  County Fair Bread has a nice texture and flavor; however, it isn’t sweet at all (despite Beard’s claims).  The sesame seeds are a nice touch and add a more complex flavor to the bread.  On the downside, County Fair Bread goes stale within a day, but the stale bread still makes wonderful toast.

I liked this recipe more than James Beard’s Challah recipe.  However, my favorite egg bread recipe is still the Rich Egg Bread Recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook.  Some of it might be sentiment on my part, since it was the first kneaded bread recipe that I ever made.  Regardless, it does make a lovely loaf of bread.

 

 

Parker House Rolls
October 24, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 24, 2011
Categories: Parker House Rolls, Rolls
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“Parker House rolls are as much of a tradition in the United States as any bread.  They were created, so the story goes, by the Parker House in Boston, which was one of our great nineteenth-century hostelries.  They have been copied by every cookbook author and every baker in the country.  Some versions are exceedingly good and some are absolutely dreadful…”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

I am definitely behind in posting, thanks to a busy weekend with my in-laws visiting from the Milwaukee area.

Anyway, last Friday was a perfect October day: I took the day off from work, ate a pumpkin bagel, went for a brisk run in the park through the fall leaves, started knitting a hat, and baked Parker House Rolls.  The recipe can be found on the James Beard Foundation’s website.

Here are the ingredients:

Parker House Rolls Ingredients

The technique for Parker House Rolls is a bit different from a standard Beard on Bread recipe.  I started by mixing all of the wet ingredients, butter, sugar, and yeast with half of the flour to form a sponge.  Then, I set the sponge in a nice sunny spot on the kitchen table and went for a run.  When I returned, 45 minutes later, the sponge was about to rise right out of the bowl.  I mixed in the rest of the flour, kneaded the dough, and let it rise again.

This time, my rise took a whopping 20 minutes.  Clearly, my yeast was throwing some sort of rowdy party in my bread dough.  I divided the dough in two and rolled each piece out.  Then I used a biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.

I was supposed to have rounds that were 1/2 inch thick, which I did if you consider the average.  Half of my dough rounds were about 1/4 inch, and the other half were 3/4 inch.   The thicker rounds were difficult to shape into a Parker House foldover: you have to make an indentation in the center of the round and then fold one half of the round into the middle.

After I managed to manhandle all of my rolls into an approximate foldover, I let them rise for about half an hour.

Parker House Rolls After Third Rising

I baked both sheets of rolls at once, by strategically positioning my oven racks and rotating the rolls during baking.  I baked them for seven minutes, then switched the top pan and the bottom pan, baked another seven minutes, switched, tasted a roll and decided it was too doughy, baked for two minutes, switched, and finally baked for another two minutes for a grand total of 18 minutes.

Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls were a huge hit with my in-laws, and for good reason: they have a nice crisp crust on the outside, a light and fluffy inside, and taste divine.  Everyone was so busy eating seconds, and thirds, that they didn’t even notice my questionable foldover technique.  I think the key is roll your dough out to exactly 1/2 inch–use a ruler if you have to!

Raisin and Nut Bread
October 17, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 17, 2011
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“This can be baked in two loaves with a mixture of raisins and nuts in both or with raisins in one loaf and nuts in the other.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

“Or, you can just skip the raisins altogether and make two loaves of nut bread!”
-Me

I feel slightly guilty that I made Raisin and Nut Bread without any raisins, but any misgivings disappeared as I gobbled down slice after slice of delicious, raisin-free bread.

Here are the ingredients:

Raisin and Nut Bread Ingredients

I used two different types of nuts: sliced almonds on the left, and pecans on the right.

Raisin and Nut Bread starts as a basic white bread.  After the initial rising, I attempted to divide my dough into two equal portions and kneaded almonds into one portion and pecans into the other.  I shaped the dough into two loaves and placed them in my 9 x 5 pans.

After the second rising, I realized that I didn’t divide the dough as evenly as I could have:

Raisin and Nut Bread After Second Rising

After only 20 minutes at 400 degrees, my loaves were golden brown and ready to be eaten.

Raisin and Nut Bread

Raisin and Nut Bread (or my version, Nut and Nut Bread) is delicious–fluffy, soft, with just a hint a sweetness and a satisfying crunch from the nuts.  I preferred the pecan loaf, since the pecans provide more flavor.  Also, the rich nutty flavor of the pecans is brought out nicely by toasting, in the unlikely event you have any bread that didn’t get gobbled down fresh out of the oven.  The only thing that might ruin these lovely loaves?  Raisins!

Dill-Seed Bread
October 9, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 9, 2011
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“[Dill-Seed Bread] has a nice crumb, lightness, a delicious ‘nose,’ and a very pleasant ‘dilly’ flavor.  I prefer using 2 teaspoons of dill weed to the dill seed…”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Yesterday I made my last Batter Bread, Dill-Seed Bread.  Since I followed Beard’s suggestion of using fresh dill weed, it should really be called “Dill-Weed Bread.”

Here are the ingredients:

Dill-Seed Bread Ingredients

Although it’s in the “Batter Bread” chapter, Dill-Seed Bread is not really a batter bread since you have to knead it before shaping it into a loaf.  The cottage cheese makes for a very lumpy, wet dough–I had a hard time shaping it into a decent looking loaf.

After one hour-long rise, the loaf was ready for the oven.

Dill-Seed Bread Afer Rising

I checked on the loaf after 20 minutes at 375 degrees.  It was a dark brown color, and the top and bottom sounded hollow when thumped.  However, as I sliced the bread I discovered a doughy streak running down the middle.  I put the semi-sliced loaf in the oven for an additional 7 minutes to make sure it was baked all the way through.

Dill-Seed Bread

Dill-Seed Bread was a disappointment for me.  The cottage cheese gives the bread a strange and unappealing heavy, damp texture, and I discovered that I really don’t like chopped onion in my bread.  Luckily, Mike thinks Dill-Seed Bread is tasty and is using it to make corned-beef sandwiches.  There are so many little ways in which he’s the perfect husband for me.

Cracked-Wheat Bread
October 4, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 4, 2011
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“This is an interesting, crunchy, rather solid bread.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

“This is the best whole-wheat bread I’ve ever had.”
-Mike

Last night I wanted to make some sandwich bread for the week.  Since I picked up some cracked wheat, or bulgur, on my last trip to the Linden Hills Co-op, I had everything on hand to make Cracked-Wheat Bread.

Here are the ingredients:

Cracked-Wheat Bread Ingredients

Cracked wheat has the the consistency of tiny pebbles.  Or, if you would rather compare your ingredients to other foods, it has the same texture as steel-cut oats.

In hindsight, I think that Beard wants you to bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, stir in the cracked wheat, and cook for 10 minutes.  Instead, I boiled 1 1/2 cup of water, poured it over my cracked wheat, and let it sit for 10 minutes.  The downside with my hands-off method is that all of the water wasn’t absorbed, as it was supposed to be according to the recipe.  I adjusted the amount of milk from 1 cup to 1/2 cup to account for the  unabsorbed water from the Stacy Method, and my dough seemed to be the right consistency.  However, I did have to knead in about 1/2 cup of extra flour, so I may have still ended up with too much liquid.

Regardless, my dough rose nicely and I shaped it into two loaves to fit my 9 x 5 pans.  After another hour of rising, the loaves were ready for the oven.

Cracked-Wheat Bread After Second Rising

I checked on the bread after baking for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, and the loaves were already done.  They smelled so marvelous that I had to try a slice.

Cracked-Wheat Bread

Cracked-Wheat Bread is by far the best whole-wheat bread I’ve made so far.  The texture is absolutely amazing: light and fluffy, with a bit of crunch here and there from the cracked wheat.  The flavor is hearty without being overwhelmingly dense.  Whatever mistakes I made cooking the cracked wheat paid off–the resulting loaves were incredible.

Armenian Thin Bread
October 3, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 3, 2011
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“Throughout the Middle East one finds many versions of the crisp flatbreads.  The one I have chosen here is simple to make, a good keeper, and extremely pleasant in flavor and texture.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

My final loaf in the “Flat Breads” chapter was Armenian Thin Bread, which I made last night (two chapters down, nine more to finish!)

Here are the ingredients:

Armenian Thin Bread Ingredients

What I love about flat breads is how straightforward they can be.  I mixed the ingredients together and then kneaded my dough.  The dough took a long time to rise–almost 2 hours–and then I divided it into fourths and rolled it out into sheets.

My oven racks were still positioned from when I made two sheets of Bread Sticks, so I was able to bake both baking sheets at once.  I rotated the baking sheets halfway through the 15 minute baking time to ensure even baking.

Armenian Thin Bread

Armenian Thin Bread tastes very similar to Pita loaves–soft, spongy, and delicious–but the process for making Armenian Thin Bread is much simpler.  It is an excellent bread to serve with hummus, but it also tastes wonderful plain…like the loaf that disappeared right after coming out of the oven.

Note: This bread is not a very good keeper; it is best eaten fresh out of the oven.

 

Norwegian Flatbread
October 2, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 2, 2011
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“[Norwegian Flatbread] entails a deft rolling job, but is well worth the trouble because of the crisp, mealy flavor that is excellent with smoked fish or salt meats cut paper thin.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

It has been such a beautiful fall weekend that I have gotten behind in my posts.  On Friday night I made Norwegian Flatbread for dinner, served with hummus and squash (since Mike and I have vegetarian leanings, we didn’t have any smoked fish or salt meat handy).

Here are the ingredients:

Norwegian Flatbread Ingredients

It was surprising easy to find barley flour–the wide selection at my local Cub Foods grocery store never ceases to amaze me.

With only four ingredients, this is one of the simpler recipes in Beard on Bread.  I mixed the ingredients together, kneaded the dough, and rolled it out.  The dough was supposed to be “paper-thin”–I could only roll my dough out to be five-sheets-of-paper-thin.  Next, I cooked the dough on the stove on medium heat for about 10 minutes on each side.

Norwegian Flatbread

Since I didn’t want to spend the whole evening watching Norwegian Flatbread cook, I used my frying pans in addition to my griddle.

Norwegian Flatbread

Norwegian Flatbread isn’t much to look at, and because I didn’t roll my dough out thinly enough, my bread was chewy instead of crispy.  However, it paired nicely with hummus and the barley flour provides a unique, whole-grain flavor and hearty texture.

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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.
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