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.

Jane Grigson’s Walnut Bread from Southern Burgundy
February 25, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 25, 2012
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“This recipe comes from a delightful cookbook called Good Things by an English writer, Jane Grigson…It makes one of the most attractively flavored and textured breads I have eaten in a long time.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

In an effort to make my March 27 deadline, I am doing three recipes this weekend.  The first is Jane Grigson’s Walnut Bread from Southern Burgundy.

Here are the ingredients:

Jane Grigson's Walnut Bread from Southern Burgundy Ingredients

Since I couldn’t find walnut oil, I substituted olive oil, and I left out the chopped onion since I didn’t really like it in Dill-Seed Bread.

I mixed all of my ingredients, except the walnuts, together to form a nice soft dough that was a pleasure to work with (especially after Gluten Bread).

Although the recipe indicates a rising time of two hours, my dough tripled in size after an hour and half, so I punched it down and kneaded in the chopped walnuts.  Then, I shaped it into four round loaves and let it rise for another 45 minutes.

Jane Grigson's Walnut Bread from Southern Burgundy After Second Rising

I baked the loaves at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  They ended up a bit over-browned, so I probably could have shorted the baking time a few minutes.

Jane Grigson's Walnut Bread from Southern Burgundy

Jane Grigson’s Walnut Bread from Southern Burgundy is absolutely lovely.  Personally, I think it tasted wonderful without the onions and a subtle hint of olive oil.  The texture is perfect: a thick, crusty exterior with an incredibly light and fluffy inside.

Gluten Bread
February 25, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 25, 2012
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“Making [Gluten Bread] is a fascinating lesson in what gluten does: the dough will resist you when you knead, will try to contract when you spread it out, but the resulting loaf is worth the battle.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

On Wednesday, I made Gluten Bread, which will go the list of bizarre bread recipes along with English Muffin Bread for Microwave Oven.  The unique thing about Gluten Bread is that it uses gluten flour, which is typically added to whole-grain breads in small quantities to improve the texture.

Here are the ingredients:

Gluten Bread Ingredients

I mixed my ingredients together and then attempted to knead the dough.  Since the dough, quite literally, had the same texture as well-chewed gum, this proved to be a near impossible undertaking.  It also had an unpleasant brown color that made it look dirty, and I think I would have had more success shaping a rubber tire into a loaf of bread than this dough.

Anyway, I finally formed what is most definitely the ugliest loaf that I have ever made, and let it rise for about an hour and a half.

Gluten Bread After Rising

See?  I wasn’t kidding about the ugly thing.

The recipe instructed me to bake the bread at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  After 25 minutes, I noticed a burning smell and checked on the bread to find this:

Gluten Bread in Oven

I poked the bread with a knife to deflate some of air (at this point remembering that I was supposed to slash the top of the loaf before baking–oops) and used a heat resistant spatula to detach the dough from the broiler.

Gluten Bread

Before investing more effort into a loaf that was shaping up to be a disaster, I sampled a slice of gluten bread off of the end.  It had the texture of a popover, assuming said popover is made of rubber.  The taste wasn’t much better, and in fact was reminiscent of an eraser I ate as a child.  Mike described it as tasting like “a cooked rubber band with a hint of industrial chemicals.”

Gluten Bread

Needless to say, I didn’t finish baking my loaf and tossed it in the garbage.  I hate wasting food, but I honestly would not classify this bread as food.  James Beard let me down with this one.

 

William Melville Childs’ Health Bread
February 20, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 20, 2012
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“A veteran breadmaker, Mr. Childs grinds his own whole-wheat flour and recommends that you do the same.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Unlike Mr. Childs, I’m not hardcore enough to grind my own flour.

Here are the ingredients:

William Melville Childs' Health Bread Ingredients

Mixing up the dough was an involved process.  First,  I mixed the yeast with the warm milk and sugar to proof.  In a separate bowl, I mixed the boiling water with the oatmeal and set it outside to let it cool to 98 degrees.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, I warmed the butter, molasses, and salt.  Once the oatmeal mixture cooled, I mixed in the yeast and molasses mixtures.  Finally, I mixed in 3 1/2 cups of whole-wheat flour and 2 1/2 cups flour, and kneaded it lightly to incorporate all of the flour.  The whole process took almost an hour.

After letting the dough rise for 45 minutes, I finished kneading the dough and shaped it into two loaves to fit my 9 x 5 pans.  Then I took a two hour nap.  Unfortunately, this meant that my dough rose too much in my pans.

William Melville Childs' Health Bread After Second Rising

My bread fell flat, but it still baked thoroughly after 55 minutes at 350 degrees.

William Melville Childs' Health Bread

I feel like I can’t pass much of a judgement on William Melville Childs’ Health Bread, since I messed up the second rising.  To me, it tasted very similar to Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread–hearty with lots of molasses.

Cake Doughnuts
February 18, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 18, 2012
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“These fried cakes, which originated in New England, have been overwhelmingly popular in the American diet.  Those of you who hark back to World War I will remember that the Salvation Army established itself in history with girls who carried doughnuts through to the trenches.  People gave money for doughnut machines so they could be turned out by the thousands for the troops.  Nowadays cake doughnuts are covered with chocolate and all kinds of icings, which are sometimes revolting.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

The recipe notes for Cake Doughnuts illustrate the two things that I absolutely love about James Beard’s books: how he provides cultural and historical context for the recipes, and how he is opinionated almost to the point of being a curmudgeon.  After my experiences with almost setting oil on fire and managing to adhere dough to wax paper, Cake Doughnuts were the final Fried Cakes section recipe.

Here are the ingredients:

Cake Doughnuts Ingredients

I halved the recipe, and substituted nutmeg for mace.

Last night, I mixed up my dough and left in refrigerator overnight to chill.  The dough was similar in texture to a sugar cookie dough (and like sugar cookie dough, tasted pretty good).

This morning I rolled out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch and used my doughnut cutter to cut out some doughnuts and holes.  Keeping in mind my previous frying experiences, I was very careful to maintain the oil temperature at 370 degrees and fried the holes for twice as long as the doughnuts to ensure that they baked all the way through.

I ended up with five very nice looking doughnuts:

Cake Doughnuts

and a corresponding number of holes:

Cake Doughnuts

Homemade Cake Doughnuts are delectable beyond anything you will find at the grocery store, or even Dunkin’ Doughnuts (and I say this as someone who would happily open the first Minnesota franchise).  The outside is cooked to a crisp perfection, with a soft, sweetened inside.  I think they’re wonderful plain; Mike frosted his with the maple glaze recipe from Maple Bars, and reports that the results were not revolting in the least.

Cake Doughnuts

Boston Brown Bread
February 17, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 17, 2012
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“This is as American as any food can be because it was created by our early settlers as an accompaniment for Boston baked beans.  It has a delicious personality of its own.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

The hardest part about Boston Brown Bread was finding a metal coffee can to bake it in.  In 1973, when Beard on Bread was published, they were commonplace; today, the coffee aisle is a sea of plastic.  My mother managed to track down a two pound metal coffee can at Wal-Mart for me so that the project could continue (thanks, Mom!)

Here are the ingredients:

Boston Brown Bread Ingredients

Since I couldn’t find rye meal, I used rye flakes that had been run through the food processor.

Boston Brown Brown is simple to prepare: you just mix the ingredients together and pour into a well-greased coffee can.

Boston Brown Bread Before Baking

The next step is to steam your bread.  After covering the coffee can with foil, I placed a small can upside down in a stock pot and set the coffee can filled with batter on top.  Next, I filled the stock pot with enough water to reach halfway to the top of the coffee can.

Boston Brown Bread Baking Set Up

I covered the stock pot, turned the stove up to medium-high, and let it boil, replenishing the water a few times to ensure that the level remained even.

After two hours, my bread was finished.

Boston Brown Bread

It ended up somewhat lopsided, because the boiling water knocked the small can underneath the coffee can to its side and the coffee can was at a tilt.  However, it did cook evenly throughout.

Boston Brown Bread

Boston Brown Bread has a texture similar to cornbread, but is slightly coarser due to the rye meal.  The molasses is nicely balanced out by the buttermilk and rye, and it is delicious with the traditional pairing of baked beans.

Boston Brown Bread

Pain de Fruits
February 8, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 8, 2012
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“Interesting in flavor and nicely textured, this French fruit bread is excellent for toast.  It bakes to a delicious-looking rich brown and is a very attractive gift bread.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

I like to think of myself as a fairly open minded eater.  I enjoy ethnic restaurants and cooking with new ingredients.  But the Brooks Bakes Project has taught me that when it comes to dried fruit, I’m downright picky.  I already knew that I despised raisins, but I learned that I also don’t like prunes, apricots, currants, or candied pineapple.

Since I wanted to enjoy my Pain de Fruits, I modified the recipe, replacing the figs, candied citron, and raisins with dried blueberries, cranberries, and cherries.

Stacy’s Pain de Fruits for the Picky Eater
Based on Pain de Fruits from Beard on Bread, by James Beard

Ingredients:

Pain de Fruits Ingredients

4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 ounces hazelnuts
4 ounces almonds
4 ounces dried blueberries or blueberry-flavored dried cranberries
2 ounces dried cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Beat eggs and sugar together.  Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter and mix well.  Grind the hazelnuts and almonds in a food processor until they form a coarse powder.  Add the ground nuts and blueberries, cherries, and cranberries to the batter and blend well.

Pain de Fruits Before Baking

Line a 9 x 5 inch bread pan with wax paper and grease the ends.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pain de Fruits

Pain de Fruits is an unusual bread, since about half of the “flour” is actually ground nuts.  This gives the bread a drier, crumblier texture that the typical quick bread, but it also provides a delectable, mildly nutty flavor throughout the loaf.  I thought my dried fruit mixture of cherries, blueberries, and cranberries was delicious, but definitely experiment and find a mixture that tastes good to you.  Maybe you’re a bolder person than I, and want to try the figs and candied citron.

Soughdough Rye
February 6, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 6, 2012
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“This sourdough rye appeared in the columns of The New York Times several years ago.  I tried it, made some changes in it, and discovered that it was one of the best recipes I have ever used.  The bread has a nice crumb, slices well, and keeps extremely well.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Sourdough Rye is a bread that requires some prep work.  I started on Wednesday night, mixing together two cups of all-purpose flour, two cups of warm water, and a package of yeast.  Then, I let the mixture sit on my counter in a tightly sealed plastic container for two days.  On Friday night, after a lovely dinner date with Mike and a couple glasses of Chardonnay (see, I occasionally do other things in my free time besides baking bread), I moved the mixture to the refrigerator.  On Saturday night, I measured out a cup of the mixture, which can only be described as “sludge” and combined it in a large bowl with another cup of warm water and two cups of rye flour.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, it was time to start actually making bread dough.

Here is the starter:

Sourdough Rye Starter

I combined my starter with the rest of my ingredients:

Sourdough Rye Ingredients

After kneading, I was impressed by how wholesome looking some caraway and poppy seeds made my bread dough look.  I let my dough rise for two hours, punched it down, formed it into two free-form loaves.  After another one and half hours of rising, I brushed the loaves with an egg wash and sliced the tops.

Sourdough Rye After Second Rising

The loaves were baked to perfection after 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Sourdough Rye

Sourdough Rye is an absolutely delicious recipe.  The texture is perfect, with an even crumb and an appealing crustiness, and the flavor is a balanced blend of caraway, rye, poppy, and sourdough.  I can’t speak to whether it’s a good keeper–both of the loaves disappeared by Monday night.  Sourdough Rye is one for the “favorites” list, and I highly recommend trying it.  The recipe can be found at the James Beard Foundation’s website.

 

 

 

Whole-Wheat Nut Bread
February 4, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 4, 2012
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“The addition of toasted pine nuts and a few raisins gives this loaf its distinction, both in texture and in flavor.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Since I have a well-documented dislike of raisins, I omitted them and just used pine nuts for this recipe.  I am a big fan of Mike’s belief that if the ingredient isn’t in the title of the recipe, you can leave it out.  This works better in some instances than others (for example, I don’t think you can skip the yeast even if it isn’t in the title).

Ingredients:

Whole-Wheat Nut Bread

I started by mixing the dough together, leaving out the pine nuts for the time being.  This dough was a joy to work with: soft, pliable, and easy to knead.  Since I didn’t want to repeat my mistakes from Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread, I was patient and gave the dough about two hours for its first rising.  The recipe specifies that the pine nuts be “toasted for 3 minutes”, so I cooked them in a warm skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes before kneading them into the risen dough.  Next, I shaped my dough into two loaves.  Beard’s recipe calls for 9 x 5 pans, but based on my loaf size I used 8 x 4 pans.  This turned out to be the right call–after one and half hours, my dough had risen filled out the pans.

Whole-Wheat Nut Bread After Second Rising

I baked the loaves at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, and then reduced the heat and baked them at 350 degrees for an additional 20 minutes.

Whole-Wheat Nut Bread

Whole-Wheat Nut Bread is an amazingly light, fluffy bread with the occasional crunch of a toasted pine nut.  As far as flavor, although it is included in the “Sweetened Breads” section, I would not characterize it as such.  My strongest impression was of the salty, smokey flavor of the toasted pine nuts.  Overall, this was a nicely textured whole-wheat bread with a bit of a twist (and I didn’t miss the raisins one bit!)

Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread
January 31, 2012

by stacy
Published on: January 31, 2012
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“This is as good an oatmeal bread as I have ever eaten, and it makes wonderful toast.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

March 27 or bust!  I have less than two months to bake the remaining 19 recipes, so I am increasing my pace.  Last night I made Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread.

Here are the ingredients:

Maryetta's Oatmeal Bread Ingredients

The recipe specifies “salad oil.”  I wasn’t quite sure what that was, but I used olive oil.

I will say upfront that I really struggled with this recipe.  I started by mixing my yeast, water, oatmeal, and two cups of flour together and letting that mixture rise.  Then I added the rest of the ingredients.  The recipe calls for seven and half to eight cups of flour, but I struggled to mix in six.  I ended up with a smaller amount of dough than I should have, and what I did have was too dense.  I didn’t seem to get a good rise, and instead of being patient I rushed the process.

Here are my loaves before going into the oven–I think an additional hour of rising would have been beneficial, but the peril of weeknight baking is a tight time table.

Maryetta's Oatmeal Bread After Second Rising

I baked the loaves at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, pulled them out of the oven, and took this picture:

Maryetta's Oatmeal Bread

Then I cut into a loaf and realized that my bread was a doughy mess.  I ended up baking the bread for an additional twenty minutes, at which point the crust had hardened to the point of cement and I still had doughy streaks around the edges of the loaf.

Aside from my baking struggles, I don’t really like the flavor of Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread anyway.  A more apt name would be “molasses bread.”  If you really like molasses in an otherwise unsweetened bread, this is the bread for you; if you’re like me, and believe that molasses belongs in heavily sweetened cookies dusted with sugar, you will be disappointed.

However, this bread did serve to remind me that bad things tend to happen when you lose your patience with bread making.

Pumpernickel Bread II
January 29, 2012

by stacy
Published on: January 29, 2012
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“A good, gutsy bread with a rather dense texture, this is not the easiest bread to put together…”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

After all of my fried dough adventures last week, I wanted to get back to the basics and make a wholesome whole-grain loaf.

Here are the ingredients for Pumpernickel Bread II:

Pumpernickel Bread II Ingredients

The container on the left is my rye flour.  Interestingly, this pumpernickel recipe doesn’t contain any caraway seeds.

As Beard warned, the dough was very stiff and difficult to knead, more like a clay that a bread dough.  After working it to the point where it seemed somewhat pliable, I formed it into a ball and let it rise in my warmed oven (I let my oven heat to the “warm” setting, turn it off, and then let my dough rise in the oven with the door closed.  This leads to a faster rise when my house is cool during the winter).

After about an hour, my dough had already doubled in size.  I shaped it into a loaf to fit my 8 x 4 pan, and put it back in the warmed oven to rise for another hour.  My rising times (one hour per rising) were much quicker than the two to three hours specified in the recipe; possibly the warm oven trick led to a quicker rise.

Pumpernickel Bread II After Second Rising

After 35 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees, my loaf was nicely browned and hollow-sounding when thumped.

Pumpernickel Bread II

Pumpernickel Bread II is a incredibly dense, very moist bread with a hard crust and an intense rye flavor.  Tonight, we just had a few slices of bread and salads for dinner.  It doesn’t sound like much, but this bread eats like a meal.  I asked Mike if he wanted a Pumpernickel Bread sandwich for lunch tomorrow, but he turned it down–he thought the bread was too heavy to make a sandwich out of.  I don’t know that I would make this bread again.  I don’t think I’m tough enough to handle it!

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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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