Neapolitan Bread

This has nothing to do with Naples; it's a bread version of the ice cream (which I think is a weird take on spumoni?). It's also evidence I am a genius, with a little help from Cam and my sister. This bread is fantastic.

Cam came up with the idea of a neapolitan bread and mentioned it in the comments of my blueberry fougasse post. We then kicked the idea around, figuring out the details of how to best make it, and this afternoon I finally went ahead and baked some off.

New Books on Bread

I haven't been baking much, but I have been reading. A friend recently went to Paris for a wedding, and I sent her with a short list of books to pick up. Among those related to baking was 100 % pain : La saga du pain enveloppée de 40 recettes croustillantes by Eric Kayser. I found it on because I wanted a French baking book, but looking through it, it is more amazing than I had hoped. I've just skimmed the beginning so far, but it has what looks to be a fairly thorough description of the history of bread and its cultural significance. I was just eager to get to the recipes.

Ugly Breakfast Rolls

These are something I've been wanting to make since I started my current job in January. I have to get up at a ridiculously early hour, even before my stomach is awake enough to know it wants food. One of the few things I have an appetite for at that time is freshly baked bread. Unfortunately, even when I have good bread to eat, I'll still be hungry well before it is time for my 'lunch', which happens to be about the same time I'd be eating breakfast, normally. So I thought it'd be a good idea to make bread that was full of whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, as an attempt at a somewhat nutritious breakfast.

Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Frosting

I hadn't planned on putting these on the blog when I made them. I usually don't bother writing about muffins or cakes because I don't find them all that interesting, and anyone can make them fairly well. There's just not a lot to share about the process. You will also never see cookies on this blog, but that's because I bake terrible (well, on the low side of average) cookies. Even following the same recipe, my mom's or sister's will turn out better than mine.

Pain Aux Pommes

Two weeks in the making, this is the bread I mentioned in my post about the blueberry fougasse that is made on a starter of fermented apples. It was the first time I had ever fermented anything (on purpose) and I was excited about that (though the actual process mostly involves a lot of waiting) and I like the idea of starting bread on fermented fruit. I'd never heard of that, and it is definitely an idea that merits more attention and experimentation. Just think of everything that's been fermented to wonderful effect, and how many breads that could mean!

Stout Chocolate Cherry Bread

Lee mentioned this recipe in a comment on an earlier post, and I got it from her when we made banh mi together last week. The sandwiches were delicious, thanks to a hot dipping sauce we made (I forget the book the recipe was in, but hopefully Lee will post something on this?) and a huge variety of real Vietnamese pork products! Unfortunately, the bread didn't turn out, and I learned that glutenous rice flour is not what you want to use to make them. (At least, I assume that's why they failed.) That's the third time I've tried that recipe, and it's been nothing but trouble. Next time, I'm mixing rice flour and white flour together in advance and using that mixture in a more reliable baguette recipe.

Merlot Muffins

Though I am fairly certain these would be better classified as cupcakes, I really enjoy alliteration, hence the name. While making the fruit juice bread in my previous post, I was complaining to my mother about the fact that there is beer bread, but no wine bread or cider bread, and she rememebered having had a wine cake years ago. She found the recipe a friend had submitted to a church cookbook -- one of those frighteningly midwestern collections of recipes for meaty cheese dishes and cheesy meat dishes the whole family will love. The recipe called for some cooking sherry and eggs to be added to a yellow cake mix to make a cake with a poundcake-like texture and density.

POM Blueberry Fougasse

When I was still in the process of making these and thinking about the blog entry I'd write for this bread, I figured I'd either start out by declaring myself a baking genius, or saying I'd found out why no one uses fruit juice instead of water in bread. Now that I've made and tasted it, I'm leaning towards the former, but the idea could still use refining.

Miche / Pain Poilâne

So I finally baked the bread off the cover of The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I'd been sort of lusting after it for a while, reading more about the bakery where it originated, Boulangerie chez Poilâne. Their website, available in English and French, includes a form for ordering loaves to be shipped. What I made would cost me $35.95 to have shipped to my home. I'm not sure how to react to the fact that that doesn't seem excessive for a loaf of bread. I wouldn't eat it every day, certainly, but I'd consider trying it once, even just for the coolness of having bread come in the mail. I also like that their website has food pairing ideas for all their breads.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition I had never tried before, preferring to stick to the equally traditional chocolate (while avoiding frightening things like Peeps). But in the weeks approaching Easter, various food blogs and forums I read were full of hot cross buns and terrifying recipe ideas for Peeps and suddenly the hot cross buns looked fairly attractive. I saw a lot of unpleasant attempts with melty-looking frosting crosses, but quickly found a more traditional pastry-crossed recipe at A Spoonful of Sugar.

Turkish Coffee Rolls

Black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love? Well, not quite, but that's what I was going for. A while ago I got some Turkish ground (very fine grind) coffee to use in baking, most specifically to try to make coffee chocolate chip muffins that were better than the ones I had a recipe for. It worked perfectly. Using coffee beans ground to a powder in baking gives a stronger, richer coffee flavor than using brewed coffee or instant coffee granules, the two methods of adding coffee flavor I see most frequently. It's easy enough to buy an eighth or a quarter pound of beans ground like this for use in cooking (The Foppish Baker likes espresso or French roasts) - the only problem is that most recipes will only take a tablespoon or so of the coffee, and the rest might go stale. Clearly having a grinder at home is the way to go.

La Meme Chose

I'm back, my translation finished by the deadline by some miracle. I was also delighted to see I was tagged for my first meme, by Lee, a fellow Madisonian food blogger at Welcome to My Pantry. My cookbook collection is a little pathetic, but it's nice to be thought of, and this is a good way to get back to the blog while my bread rises.

Lavender Focaccia

I'm a little surprised I ended up making this, since I'm not a big fan of lavender or focaccia. The latter can probably be blamed on the dry sponges people sell as 'focaccia' around here, but even though I was sure homemade focaccia would be fantastic, I could never really motivate myself to make any. Then I was struck by the idea of a sweet focaccia with lavender, lemon, and honey. I thought I'd put some honey in the dough to really change things, but I ended up lost in the process of making the bread and forgot to add anything at all. That happens more often than I'd like. I start measuring flour, thinking about what I'll put in the dough, then before I know it, it's finished with its first rise and it's too late to add anything more without risking completely degassing it.

Sauerkraut & Red Onion Sourdough

I managed to bake something nearly every day this week, but didn't bother updating any of it. I had hoped to update about twice a week, but I guess I get busy. And lazy. And uninspired. (I do have something interesting in the works now though.) Still, this week's baking was mostly sweets, and I want to get back to baking bread.

The first time I tried to make this bread, before I had started this blog, it came out light and airy, like a foccacia, but with no crust to speak of, and all the rolls melted into each other to make one big pan of bread that tasted sort of like onion bagel. Everyone who tried it, save myself, thought it was delicious.

Vietnamese Bánh Mì Gà

About half a year ago, when I was first looking into baking bread more seriously, I happened to read about Saigon baguettes: a French bread made with half rice flour and half wheat flour. It sounded really interesting, so when I found a recipe, I tried it out. I had a lot of difficulty with it, and ended up with only a somewhat-edible loaf of bread. Later, when I found out there is a sandwich made with the baguette, I decided I'd have to give it another try.

Plum Spice Pound Cake

My good friend at Glaukôpidos was bugging me for an update, which I've been putting off because I lack an ingredient for my next planned baking project. After being unmotivated to bake anything that wouldn't require two or three days of proofing, I remembered and idea I'd had over the summer, but wanted to save for winter, when the taste might be more seasonally appropriate. And if you can't bake a wintery cake on a day when most of the city is shut-down due to snow, then when can you?

Cherry Chocolate Rolls

If you should find yourself, like I have, without any one particular person to impress on Valentine's Day, but rather with a lot of friends who want treats, in a more time-consuming version of the elementary school Valentine's card exchange, you can't do much better than bread. (Unless maybe you prefer cupcakes, the current height of food fashion, or brownies or cookies, but I don't. I like bread.)


After making the sweet fougasse, I put my leftover poolish in the freezer, planning on using it for pizza dough. It took a surprisingly long time to defrost, so that didn't happen, but I ended up making bagels instead. I doubled the recipe in Crust & Crumb so I could take them in to eat at work for the next week or so, depending on how many get eaten at home.

I'd never frozen poolish before, and it was disturbingly fluid. I was also a bit worried by the fact that there were no air bubbles or foaming, as I'd read that yeast dies out in old poolish and makes it unstable for baking. But I went ahead with it anyway, because that's what I do (mostly out of sheer laziness) and it turned out well.

Pain au Maïs

Pain au maïs is turning out to be more of a challenge than I expected. It started when I was in France for Thanksgiving. An American friend and I were trying to put together a dinner and needed several kinds of bread for my mother's stuffing recipe. We had a white bread and a wheat bread, and went down to a good bakery around the corner from my friend's apartment. We asked what they had in the way of whole grain breads and were given some pain au maïs. A lot of it went into the stuffing, but we each tried a few slices plain and it was fantastically delicious.

Sweet Fougasse

And it's back to Reinhart's bread recipes, mostly because I lacked the ingredients for my next idea, and because the promise of a bread with all the "comfort and satisfaction" of a croissant or brioche without any butter was intriguing. This recipe is from Crust & Crumb, which I ended up purchasing after I returned it Bread Baker's Apprentice to the library. I chose this one, even though it's a bit older, because it seemed to have more sourdough recipes, which interest me. The baking instructions differ in the two books: Crust & Crumb says to mist the oven twice, in two minute intervals, while Bread Baker's Apprentice suggests more mistings at 30-second intervals. I think my usual practices fall somewhere in the middle of that.

Matcha Cream Pan - 抹茶クリームパン

Finally an update! I just started a new full-time job this week, so I have been trying to figure out how to work baking into the schedule. The best I have come up with so far is to start bread in the morning, use my 8 hours at work as an "overnight" rise in the refrigerator, then bake in the evening. In practice, it's not quite so simple, with lots of breads needing to sit at room temperature for 3~4 hours before being refrigerated, but I should figure out something eventually.

I have been really enjoying baking from Peter Reinhart's books, and have learned a lot, but at the same time, it almost gets boring to make delicious, flawless bread every time. The instructions are clear and detailed, and though I've made his ciabatta and cinnamon raisin breads in the past few weeks, it seemed silly to take pictures and write up an entry that basically says "Yup. Baked it to instructions, came out great". Fortunately for me, what I baked yesterday was miles away from that sort of experience so I have lots of tips to share on how not to make this one.

Pain de campagne au levain

It feels good to finally make a successful French country sourdough bread after three failures. This is also the first time I've used my whole wheat sourdough starter, Mulder, in something edible. Most recipes use something more along the lines of my white flour starter, Scully, but there are a variety of different flavours that can be achieved through different starters. Even using the same recipe, Mulder would make a very different tasting bread from Scully.

Then there's also the possibility of a starter made with rye flour (or even something more unusual), one with grape skins or beer yeast added, or sourdough cultures from different parts of the world. (San Francisco sourdough is pretty different from French or German.) From as best I can tell, Mulder has a much milder flavour than Scully. Apparently Europeans tend not to like a strong acidic, sourdough flavour, so there are recipe differences to account for, but I'd say the smell of the starters supports that statement. Breads I made with Scully are more easily recognisable as sourdough, though both make good breads and are equally powerful leaveners.