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: November 2011

Sour-Cream Bread
November 19, 2011

by stacy
Published on: November 19, 2011
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“This is a very rich bread with a slightly acid flavor and a wonderful texture.  I invented it one day when I set out to make buttermilk bread and didn’t have any buttermilk.  I resorted to sour cream instead, and the results were highly satisfactory.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Continuing on my sour cream kick (it was on sale) I made Sour-Cream Bread tonight.  Today was our first snowfall of the season, so it was a perfect night to stay in.

Here are the ingredients:

Sour-Cream Bread Ingredients

This recipe took a bit longer than anticipated because the sour cream is supposed to be at room temperature, so everything was delayed by an hour while the sour cream sat on the counter.  Otherwise, this was fairly straightforward recipe to prepare.  The dough was a challenge to work with; the sour cream made it extremely soft, but at the same time very  crumbly.  It took a lot of elbow grease and patience to knead the dough to the point where it stayed together.

After the first rising, I didn’t have enough dough to shape into 9 x 5 loaves, as called for by the recipe, so instead I used my 8 x 4 pans.  I was so anxious to get the bread in the oven that I forgot to take a “before” picture, but here is the “after” picture when the bread came out of the oven after 20 minutes at 375 degrees:

Sour-Cream Bread

Sour-Cream Bread is definitely not a bread I would make again.  It is very rich and heavy; I prefer my white breads to have a light texture. However, it was still lovely to eat soup and fresh bread and watch the snow fall, and bask in the appreciation of not having to shovel any of it since we live in a townhouse.

Rich Sour-Cream Coffee Cake
November 19, 2011

by stacy
Published on: November 19, 2011
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“This is another coffee bread, baked in a tube pan, one that I have enjoyed all my life.  In fact, it is my favorite of all the sweet breads.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

I usually don’t mess with Beard’s recipes.  That seems to defeat the purpose of the project: why bake all the recipes from a cookbook if you’re going to change them?  I am guilty of leaving out raisins and the occasional exotic liqueur, but I mostly bake by the book.

Rich Sour-Cream Coffee Cake is an exception.  James Beard was a man who really, really loved butter, so when he calls something “rich” it means “obscenely decadent.”  Furthermore, the recipe as written yields two large coffee cakes and contains ingredients I know I hate, like currants and apricot jam.  So I decided to step outside the box and modify the recipe a bit.  Instead of my usual post, I’m posting my recipe variation.

Stacy’s Blueberry-Sour Cream Coffee Cake
A variation on “Rich Sour-Cream Coffee Cake” from Beard on Bread

Ingredients:

Rich Sour-Cream Coffee Cake Ingredients

For the dough:
2 packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold skim milk
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1/8 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 cup finely chopped walnuts

For the glaze:
4 ounces blueberry jam

Instructions:
The night before, combine the yeast, 1/8 cup sugar, and water in a large bowl and allow to proof.  Stir in the remaining 1/8 cup sugar, salt, milk, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla; mix well.  Add the egg; mix well.  With a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour in a separate large bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture; stir.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.  Shape dough into a ball, place in a tightly covered bowl, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, roll out the dough into a rectangle (it will be stiff and difficult to work with, but persist).  Brush the rectangle with butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon; then sprinkle with walnuts.  Roll dough up from the wider end.  Form into a ring and place in a Bundt pan that has been buttered or sprayed with baking spray.  Join the ends together.  Let dough rise until puffy and doubled in bulk.  (To make your dough rise faster, preheat oven to “keep warm” setting.  Turn off oven and place dough in the oven to rise.  This is particularly helpful if you keep your house cool during the winter months).

Rich Sour-Cream Coffee Cake After Second Rising

Bake bread in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until brown and hollow sounding when rapped with knuckles.  Turn out of Bundt pan onto a large plate or cake stand.

Melt jam over medium-high heat in a small saucepan.  Drizzle jam over cake.  Serve warm and enjoy!

Rich Sour-Cream Coffee Cake

 

Quick Cranberry Bread
November 13, 2011

by stacy
Published on: November 13, 2011
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“The cranberries give the loaf good touches of color and a pleasant tartness.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Since I was in a Thanksgiving frame of mind after yesterday’s turkey dinner, I made Quick Cranberry Bread today.  The recipe can be found on the James Beard’s Foundation’s website.

Here are the ingredients:

Quick Cranberry Bread Ingredients

The white bowl has the chopped walnuts.  I skipped the rosewater called for by the recipe.

Quick Cranberry Bread lives up to its name: all I had to do was measure out the ingredients, stir, and it was ready for the oven.

Cranberry Bread Before Baking

After one hour and two minutes at 350 degrees, the bread was done (I tested it with my cake tester).

Quick Cranberry Bread

Quick Cranberry Bread is a wonderful quick bread: the walnuts and cranberries are a tasty flavor combination, and there is a perfect balance between the sweetened bread and the tart cranberries.  This is an easy and delicious recipe that is perfect for autumn.

Quick Cranberry Bread

Sweet Potato Rolls
November 13, 2011

by stacy
Published on: November 13, 2011
Categories: Rolls, Sweet Potato Rolls
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“This is a traditional American bread that can also be made with winter squash.  it is deep yellow in color and has a lightness and a lasting moisture.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Yesterday we celebrated an early Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, since we’re spending Thanksgiving in Milwaukee with Mike’s parents.  We had a turkey breast cooked in the slow cooker with cranberry-sage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and Sweet Potato Rolls.  I am happy to report that the first “Thanksgiving” dinner Mike and I hosted was a success, and the Sweet Potato Rolls were delicious.

Here are the ingredients:

Sweet Potato Rolls Ingredients

The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of mashed sweet potato.  I boiled a small sweet potato for about 45 minutes, skinned and mashed it, and measured out 1/2 cup.

The dough mixed up nicely, and was easy to knead.  It was much softer than a typical white bread dough due to the sweet potato, and a lovely light orange color.  After letting the dough rise for 45 minutes, I divided it into 24 approximately equal pieces and rolled each one into a ball.  After another 30 minutes of rising time, I glazed the rolls with a cream and egg mixture and they were ready for the oven.

Sweet Potato Rolls After Second Rising

The rolls were done after 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Sweet Potato Rolls

Sweet Potato Rolls are the perfect bread for a Thanksgiving spread: light and fluffy, with a subtle flavor sweet potato and a hint of sweetness.  This Beard on Bread recipe just might become a family tradition.

Pronto Pumpernickel
November 9, 2011

by stacy
Published on: November 9, 2011
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“[Pronto Pumpernickel] makes a delicious, moist, round loaf resembling the Middle European rye breads.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Pronto Pumpernickel is a unique Beard on Bread recipe because it starts with a pre-packaged bread mix.  Much more on the debacle that turned out to be later.

Here are the ingredients:

Pronto Pumpernickel Ingredients

My problems started with the hot roll mix itself.  The recipe calls for a 13 3/4 ounce package of hot roll mix; I could only find a 16 ounce package.  Since I don’t have a kitchen scale, I carefully measured my mix by volume, and then set up a ratio to determine how much roll mix to discard.  Then came the next step: “Prepare a hot-roll mix as directed on package.”  I interpreted this to mean, well, prepare the mix as directed on package.  I set up another ratio to determine how much water to use (85% of one cup), and added the required butter and eggs.

The next step was where everything fell apart.  Following Beard’s instructions, I added another 3/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup molasses, 3/4 cup of rye flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of caraway seeds to the prepared mix.  This resulted in a soupy mess that resembled porridge more than bread dough.  So, either 1) bread mixes and the directions for preparing them have changed drastically since 1973 or 2) I was supposed to leave out the water as called for by the mix and just use the water called for by the recipe.  My best guess is number two, but that seems to directly contradict the first line of the recipe.

Regardless, I had a problem.  I added an additional 3/4 cup of rye flour to no avail.  Then, apparantly not heeding any of the lessons I learned from Cornmeal Bread, I turned the dough onto my cutting board and tried to knead it.  The dough was so sticky that I had to enlist Mike’s help to dump flour on the dough as I attempted to scrape dough from my hands.  After adding about 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, I finally had  dough that I could knead.  After kneading, I let it rise for an hour, shaped it into a round loaf, and let it rise again for about half an hour.

Pronto Pumpernickel After Second Rising

I baked the loaf at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  It was a nice looking free-form loaf, if I may say so myself.

Pronto Pumpernickel

As far as taste, considering all the modifications I made to the recipe it came out pretty well.  There wasn’t enough flavor in the way of salt or caraway seed, since I added so much flour, but the crust was incredible–nice and crunchy.  At some point, I may retry Pronto Pumpernickel without adding the water call for by the recipe, just to see if that works.  But I have a lot of recipes to work my way through before I get there.

Persimmon Bread
November 6, 2011

by stacy
Published on: November 6, 2011
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“This old recipe, sent to me by a dear friend from the Middle West, makes a bread that is almost cakelike in texture…It is unusual, rich, and thoroughly delicious.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

I have been a persimmon quest for almost two months now.  They are extremely difficult to find in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area in the fall: I struck out at my big-box grocery store, the farmer’s market, and the Linden Hills Co-op.  Just as I was about to give up and buy persimmon puree online at an exorbitant price, I happened along some persimmons at the Mississippi Market when I was visiting St. Paul.  It was a happy day, up there with my last day of high school gym class and the day I discovered Nutella.

So what is a persimmon?  It’s an orange fruit that looks like a pointy tomato:

Persimmon

After letting my persimmons ripen on the counter for a week, I tackled Persimmon Bread last Friday.

Here are the ingredients:

Persimmon Bread Ingredients

There are a couple inaccuracies in this picture: 1) the recipe calls for baking soda, not baking powder, which I luckily realized before mixing it in, and 2) there were four persimmons, not three, but I had already made persimmon puree with one of them.  I also substituted nutmeg for mace and left out the raisins (no surprise there!)

Beard doesn’t specify how to go about making persimmon puree.  I used a potato masher.  From experience, I can assure you that it works much better to peel the persimmon first, instead of smashing the persimmon and then picking out pieces of peel.  The persimmon puree tasted like peaches.

Persimmon Puree

Pureeing the persimmons is the most difficult part of this recipe.  Since this is a baking soda bread, I simply mixed the ingredients together.  There is a lot of everything in this recipe: two sticks of butter, four eggs, two cups of sugar, and 2/3 of a cup of bourbon.  Feeling slightly woozy from the alcohol fumes, I poured the batter into three quart-sized Pyrex dishes.

Persimmon Bread Before Baking

I baked the loaves for 1 hour at 350 degrees, checking for doneness by poking the loaves with a cake tester.

Persimmon Bread

The loaves looked pretty darn cute.  The taste was another matter: Persimmon Bread tastes like bourbon.  This may be a positive selling point for some people, but after hunting for two months and spending $7.96 on organic persimmons, I wanted my bread to actually taste like said persimmons.  On the plus side, Mike thought the bread was pretty good and has made his way through one loaf.  Next time, I’ll skip the persimmons and just add some more bourbon.

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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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