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.

Categories: Whole-Meal Breads

Mrs. Elizabeth Ovenstad’s Bread
March 22, 2012

by stacy
Published on: March 22, 2012
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“I learned to bake this bread in Norway, at Mrs. Ovenstad’s farm near Oslo.  She bakes it twice a week…”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

I put this recipe off until the end night because I couldn’t find any whole-wheat kernels locally.  I ended up substituting cracked wheat instead, which I soaked in boiling water for one hour per the recipe.


Mrs. Elizabeth Ovenstad's Bread Ingredients

I mixed the dry ingredients together, and then I very carefully added the proofed yeast mixture, drained cracked wheat, water, and milk.  The dough was difficult to mix since my largest bowl was too small to comfortably accommodate nine cups of flour and various other ingredients, but I managed to make a decent dough.  After a thorough kneading, I let it rise for an hour.

Next, I formed the dough into two loaves.  Since I didn’t have the 10 x 5 pans called for by the recipe, I shaped two long loaves and placed them in my 9 x 13 glass baking dish.  After about 45 minutes, they had doubled in size and were ready for baking.

Mrs. Elizabeth Ovenstad's Bread After Second Rising

After one hour at 400 degrees, I had two delicious loaves with an incredible looking crust.

Mrs. Elizabeth Ovenstad's Bread

Mrs. Elizabeth Ovenstad’s Bread tasted just as incredible as it looked.  It has a light, even texture with a hearty flavor and an amazing crust.  Even Mike, who isn’t a big fan of whole-grain breads, couldn’t get enough of this.  Luckily, the loaves are huge.

Pumpernickel Bread I
March 21, 2012

by stacy
Published on: March 21, 2012
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“This is an extremely interesting bread, but since it is practical to make only in large quantity, I recommend it solely to those of you who have large kitchens and large bowls.  Besides this, the dough is very sticky and takes a lot of deft working to get it to the baking stage.  So if you have any reservations about this challenge, I urge you to try another pumpernickel.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Since I don’t have a large kitchen or a large bowl, and harbored some strong reservations, Pumpernickel Bread has been a recipe that I’ve put off until the bitter end.


Pumpernickel Bread I Ingredients

I used prepared instant mashed potatoes.

There is a lot of set up to this recipe.  You have to proof your yeast, make mashed potatoes, and prepare a cornmeal mush.  While I  was working on the potatoes and cornmeal, my yeast ended up looking like this:

Proofing Yeast

But I finally finished all of the beginning preparations, mixed in an ungodly amount of flour, and manhandled a huge mass of sticky dough into semi-submission.  I let the dough rise until it had exploded out of my not-large-enough bowl, and then formed it into three loaves.  This was difficult, because somehow my dough had reverted back to its sticky state while rising.  I ended up with one 8 x 4 loaf and two 9 x 5 loaves.

Pumpernickel Bread I After Second Rising

Once they had doubled in size, my loaves went into the oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Pumpernickel Bread I

Pumpernickel Bread I is delicious–it is more of a rye bread than a pumpernickel, with only a hint of caraway.  Best of all, it made some very tasty Reuben sandwiches with leftover corn beef from St. Patrick’s Day.

Reuben Sandwich with Pumpernickel Bread I

Despite my reservations and small kitchen, I was up to the challenge.

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.

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.




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!

Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal
January 22, 2012

by stacy
Published on: January 22, 2012
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“There are two or three favorite recipes for oatmeal bread in this country.  I first encountered this one in Nevada, in a restaurant that was made famous by Lucius Beebe, and it was so good that I extracted the recipe from the owner and have been using it for many years.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

After my disappointing Quick Fruit Bread candied pineapple experiment, I wanted to try another breakfast-type bread.  The recipe for Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal can be found on the James Beard Foundation’s website.

Here are the ingredients:

Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal Ingredients

The recipe calls for “coarse rolled oats.”  My grocery store bulk bins had regular old-fashioned oatmeal, and something called “thick cut” old-fashioned oatmeal.  To the naked eye, they looked the same.  I used the thick cut oats, which seemed to work out.

I started by cooking my oatmeal.  While it cooled, I mixed together the rest of my ingredients (except for the flour).  After adding the cooked oatmeal to the mixture, I stirred in four cups of flour.

I live in Minnesota, which has very dry winters.  In recent months, I have been able to drip-dry jeans in two hours, and our bedroom humidifier is pumping a gallon of water into the air each day.  Since my house–everything in it–is so dry, I didn’t need to add any additional four to my dough during kneading to get it to the right consistency (Beard notes that you may have to add up to an extra cup).  My flour soaked up the liquid in the mixture like a sponge.

I let the dough rise for about an hour, and then kneaded it for a few more minutes and shaped it into loaves to fit my 8 x 4 loaf pans.  I like making recipes that allow me to use 8 x 4 pans since I find the resulting loaves cuter than those from 9 x 5 pans.  The fact that I have started to find loaves of bread to be “cute” slightly concerns me, especially since I have two more months to go on this project.  Who knows what my state of mind will be by then.

Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal After Second Rising

Anyway, I let the cute loaves rise for about 45 minutes, and then baked them at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Since my loaves were getting quite browned by that point, I skipped the recipe step of removing the loaves from their pans and baking for a few additional minutes.

Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal

Texturally, I enjoyed the crusty, dense, and moist Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal.  The problem was the taste: I found it be rather bland, not rich and full flavored as Beard asserts.  I used dark brown sugar, as specified by the recipe, so that wasn’t the issue.  I think that I was hoping for a more pronounced “oat-y” flavor, which this loaf didn’t provide.

Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal

Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread
December 30, 2011

by stacy
Published on: December 30, 2011
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“Taught in the Norwegian Government School for Domestic Science Teachers in Oslo, this recipe makes a very dense, coarse bread full of honest flavor…”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Since I am only baking for myself and Mike, rather than a family of 6 plus a hired man, I halved the ginormous Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread recipe.

Stacy’s Downsized Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread
Variation on Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread from Beard on Bread


1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm milk (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
3 – 3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread Ingredients

In large mixing bowl, proof yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm milk.  Add remaining milk and salt.  Gradually mix in flours.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead.  The dough will be very stiff and difficult to work with.  As an analogy, my typical bread dough is the texture of Play-Doh: very pliable and easy to work with.  This dough will be the texture of the clay you struggled with in seventh grade art class.

After kneading the dough until it is a somewhat workable texture, place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk (this took about one hour for me).  Punch down and attempt to shape dough into a free-form round loaf.  Hopefully, you will have more success than I did.  Place loaf on baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and let rise until doubled in bulk (again, this took one hour for me).

At this point, it was fairly apparent that my loaf shaping skills would not have earned high marks at the Norwegian Government School for Domestic Science Teachers:

Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread After Second Rising

One gold star if your loaf looks better than mine.  If not, that’s life.  Make a few cuts in the loaf’s surface and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or until loaf is hollow-sounding when rapped with your knuckles.

Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread

I picture Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread as something that you cook in a wood stove and serve to the men when they come in from the fields.  It is a very crusty, dense loaf with more of a rye than a whole-wheat flavor.  This is a bread that could plow a field with a team of oxen and then fell a few trees.  However, if you live a more suburban existence, I can also attest to Norwegian Whole-Wheat Bread pairing nicely with Chicken with Mustard-Dill sauce.

Rye Bread
December 5, 2011

by stacy
Published on: December 5, 2011
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“A pleasant rye bread of good texture and interesting flavor.  It is rather difficult to make but worth the trouble.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Between Thanksgiving, a knitting retreat, three different out-of-town Christmas celebrations, and Christmas cookies, I don’t foresee a lot of bread baking getting done over the next few weeks.  Yesterday I managed to squeeze in Rye Bread, and I’m glad I did.  Somewhere between kneading the dough and chewing my way through a gloriously textured slice, the hectic pace of my life slipped away.

Here are the ingredients:

Rye Bread Ingredients

One minor adjustment: instead of a “heaping” tablespoon of salt I used a level tablespoon.  The container is full of rye flour from the co-op.

Despite Beard’s rather ominous comments about this bread being “difficult to make” I had the opposite experience.  My dough kneaded up nicely, rose quickly, and baked beautifully.  Please don’t bother with the allegedly “easy to prepare” and completely convoluted Pronto Pumpernickel recipe–just make this one.

My only snag was the misjudgement I made when dividing the dough, which resulted in one loaf that was quite a bit larger than the other.

Rye Bread After Second Rising

After a baking time of only 30 minutes at 400 degrees, I pulled two gorgeous loaves out of the oven.  The texture of the bread was perfect thanks to the egg white wash I brushed over the loaves: crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

Rye Bread

This is a winning recipe.  Rye Bread is straightforward to prepare and results in a lovely, basic loaf of bread.


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.

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Loaves baked   Loaves to go
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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