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: 19 March 2012

Mother’s Raisin Bread
March 19, 2012

by stacy
Published on: March 19, 2012
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“This was a raisin bread that my mother made very often, modeled on one she had admired at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.  During World War I she used to do benefit teas for the British Red Cross, and there were always requests for this bread, thinly sliced and spread with good sweet butter.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Over the course of this project, I researched James Beard and read many of his other books.  It is clear that his mother was a tremendous influence in his culinary life, and he very much admired her.  In her honor, I am making this raisin bread recipe as written (for the most part) because I felt it would rather sacrilegious to substitute dried cranberries.

Here are the ingredients:

Mother's Raisin Bread Ingredients

Modifications: I halved the recipe, and I soaked the raisins in water, nutmeg, and orange peel for a few hours instead of in sherry, mace, and orange peel overnight.

My dough mixed and kneaded up quite nicely, but the first rising took almost three hours.  When it had finally doubled in size, I punched it down, kneaded lightly, and let it rise for another 30 minutes.  Next, I rolled it into a rectangle and topped it with melted butter and the drained raisins.

Mother's Raisin Bread in Progress

I rolled the dough up from the short side (after doing it backwards on my first attempt, ending up with a very long loaf that didn’t hold together) and placed it in my 8 x 4 loaf pan for another half hour of rising.

Mother's Raisin Bread After Second Rising

I baked the loaf at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Mother's Raisin Bread

The verdict?  For a bread that involves raisins, this one isn’t bad.  It has a buttery, fluffy texture, and the hint of orange from the prepared raisins is a nice touch.  If you must make raisin bread, Mother’s Raisin Bread is a good one.

Mother's Raisin Bread

 

Plain Saffron Bread
March 19, 2012

by stacy
Published on: March 19, 2012
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Comments: 2 Comments

“This bread is reminiscent of Cornish and Welsh teas, where saffron buns and bread have been exceedingly popular for generations…It makes fine toast.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

“No offense to you or your cooking, but I think it tastes like water out of a garden hose.”
-Mike, who discovered he doesn’t like saffron

My life has taken on a hectic place.  We spent the first full week in March at Walt Disney World (bread notes: try the croissants in France and the sandwiches in Norway at the Epcot World Showcase).  Since coming back, I’ve gotten a new job, and we have started work on our new house.  So even though I baked Plain Saffron Bread last Tuesday, I’m just getting around to posting now.

Here are the ingredients:

Plain Saffron Bread Ingredients

Saffron is expensive–the little box of saffron threads from the bulk spice section was $10, and this recipe used most of it.

I started by steeping my saffron in boiling water.  Meanwhile, I proofed the yeast with sugar and warm water.  At the same time, I scalded the milk, adding the butter and salt.  Once the milk mixture had cooled, I combined everything in a large bowl and added the flour.  My dough kneaded up to be a yellow color with a softly elastic texture.

I let the dough rise twice before shaping into two loaves to fit my 8 x 4 loaf pans, and then I let those rise again.  Each rising took about 45 minutes.

Plain Saffron Bread After Second Rising

I baked the bread at 425 degrees for ten minutes and then finished it off at 350 for 20 minutes.

Plain Saffron Bread

You have to really like saffron to enjoy this bread.  Mike really didn’t think much of it (he compared it to drinking water out of a garden hose) and I wasn’t a huge fan of it fresh from the oven.  But sliced thin and toasted, Plain Saffron Bread is sublime.  The toasting makes the saffron flavor more subtle, and it crisps to the perfect texture.  It was definitely some of finest–and most expensive–toast that I’ve ever had.

Plain Saffron 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.
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