Friday, January 29, 2010

Spreading the love today!

I am so excited and just had to share the news. My friend and next door neighbor, Sharon, is coming over tonight to learn how to make her own bread from ABin5. Whoo-hoo!!

To prepare, I am mixing up a batch of dough this morning so she can see how much it rises. I'll probably cut off a loaf to bake while we mix up her batch to take home. I haven't started working on the February 1st line-up for our HBin5 Bread Braid, so that is the recipe I'll be following this morning.
While I'm in the kitchen, I need to mix up a couple more batches of granola. Below is a photo from my marathon granola baking day back in December. I mixed up eight batches of granola (from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day, of course) and packaged a 1/2 batch along with a fresh baked baguette as Christmas gifts for our friends around town.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bread Baking Assignment #1: The Master Recipe

First off, "Happy New Year!" I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with dear friends and my family. Winter break was wonderful and our 5 yr old son even learned to knit! He's very proud of himself, and I suspect I have already done my part to create another (shh) "yarn snob" in the family. It's not a bad thing, really...

So moving on to the Bread Braid featuring the recipes of "Healthy Breads in Five Minutes A Day" or "HBin5" as it's known to the many loyal followers of Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoe Francois. If anyone is reading this who isn't a part of the bread braid, we have been asked not to post the recipes, but it's worth the investment to buy either of their two books!

Thanks to our wonderful host and organizer, Michelle, I am focused on baking my way through 2010 and well into 2011. See, we have a Google group (HBinFive), a baking calendar and a never-ending supply of support from so many talented folks. It's pretty cool!

January's Assignment: The Master Recipe
What better place to start than at the beginning. Now, I was lucky enough to get my copy of HBin5 the day it was released so I have made this recipe several times. But it never get boring, and my boys love the bread so much! YAY.

What I have not done before was to weigh the ingredients. I've always used the measuring cup method. I felt very accomplished calculating each ingredient as my helper (our 2 yr old) dumped each one in the bucket. I am not sure I noticed a difference in the end results, but I suspect I will continue with weighing method. If nothing else, fewer items to wash!

I made the basic loaf on the 2nd (from a previous batch where I didn't weigh the ingredients)...

and then moved onto an "epi" on the 10th.

I think it turned out okay, don't you? It really is just as easy as the books says - just a few cuts with the kitchen shears and you are good to go. This sweet little creation went straight from the cooling rack to the dinner table in a matter of minutes. Truthfully, it never had a chance to cool!

Finally, I took my turn with the Whole Grain Snack Crackers on the 16th. This is the one I was most hesitant to attempt. Thankfully I had a chance to read the comments from our Google group and learned a few useful tips.

I only used a 1/2 lb. of dough at a time and rolled and cut it out directly on my Silpat. Instead of the spice mix provided in the recipie, I used salt and garlic powder. Wow, they were delicious. I didn't get the best photo, but here it is...

I've since made one more batch and have enough dough left over for more. Next time I plan to take only 1/4 lb. at a time and really work to get them thin. With the first two attempts, I had just a few that were crisp. I think using the smallest amount of dough possible to fill the Silpat will work best for me.

Michelle over at Big Black Dog was kind enough to ease us into the bread braid with just one assignment this month, but starting in February we will be doing double-time (entries on the 1st and 15th of the month).

Next month: Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, Red Beet Buns and Chocolate Espresso Whole Wheat Bread