March 25, 2010 @ 12:09 pm | Filed under: ,

I’m getting into the groove. Baking every day, or every other day (two loaves) if tomorrow’s going to be busy. So far, only one tomorrow has been too busy.

We like the 100% whole wheat recipe best for everyday bread (sandwiches and toast). Yesterday I played with the light whole wheat recipe a bit—added some honey, and added more whole wheat flour, less white. Baked a loaf this morning and it’s lovely: light and fluffy, quite nice in sandwiches. But the crust was too, er, crusty. We ran into this yesterday with a round of the master boule recipe. It’s that step where they have you add steam to a pan on the bottom rack of your oven; that step is supposed to ensure a nice crispy crust and by golly it does! Too crunchy. Hard to cut. Tomorrow I’ll try omitting the steam and see how it turns out. I love the crusty bread with soups and sauces, but for sandwiches I’d rather a bit less crunch.

Also had my first real failure—due to a boneheaded oversight. I had a bit of dough left (whole wheat) from Sunday’s batch and stored it in a mini-loaf pan. It rose (in the fridge) to fill the pan exactly, so I just went ahead and baked it in that, after a rise on the counter. And totally forgot that meant the pan hadn’t been greased. It stuck terribly, and didn’t rise properly anyway. Lesson learned!

I’m seeing small buds and large leaves on the milkweed, so I expect the butterflies will be along any day. None sighted yet—but the Journey North monarch migration map tells me there have been a few sightings in coastal towns not far north of us, so there must surely be some monarchs here as well (since they move north from Mexico).

We had an Amazon gift card to spend, and here’s what we ordered—

The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall, author of The Firelings

Skating Shoes, one of the Noel Streatfeild Shoes books we didn’t have

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, author of The Sherwood Ring

Other recent arrivals—

Flyaway: How A Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings by Susie Gilbert (review copy sent by the author, whose perusal of my archives suggested to her we might be interested, as indeed we are; Mental Multivitamin mentioned it as well)

The Year of Plenty, a middle-grade novel by Rebecca LeeAnne Brammer (review copy sent by the author)


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24 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Kathryn says:

    Skating Shoes is one of my favourite Noel Streatfeilds (though over here it is called White Boots)

  2. coffeemamma says:

    re: Bread (though the Boy is scrumptious)

    We stopped the steam thing early on (two crusty crust dislikers here), and bake it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Also, storing in a plastic zipper bag de-crustifies the crust a bit.

  3. Kez says:

    You’ve inspired me to pull the bread book out again – I made my first loaf again yesterday. Mmmmm!

  4. mamacrow says:

    oh White Boots (aka) skating shoes is great, how I loved the two girls in that! for very different reasons, of course!

    which reminds me, I must try and track down the tennis one, havn’t read that yet but it sounds awesome

  5. mary ellicete says:

    You do have the most aborablest kids…(after my own of course).

  6. Jeanne says:


  7. Emily says:

    Boy is INDEED scrumptious! Those cheeks! That hair!

  8. Anna says:

    A loaf pan without steam works well, too.

  9. Elizabeth M says:

    I forgot to mention in my previous comments that we skip the steam step too. The kids don’t like the crust that heavy.

    We’ve also started resting all free-form loafs on parchment paper on a wooden peel. Then we slide it onto the preheated pizza stone right on the parchment. Close to the end of baking, I slide the paper out from the bottom and let it finish on the stone itself.
    It’s saved a lot of mess from the wheat flour or corn mean on the stone and in the oven.
    Now I have to pick which dough I’m starting tomorrow…

  10. Lindsay says:

    LOVE to hear more about the book written by the bird rehabber. My son is learning to band birds with a local bander who is also a rehabber (mom and dad mostly record data!) Sounds like a great book for son and/or a great gift for our bander friend!

  11. monica says:

    picked up that bread book at the library yesterday. can’t wait to get baking.


  12. Robin says:

    I am really warming up to this bread-baking method, but there is one thing I can’t get my head around. Like all of you, my fridge gets pretty packed (especially on grocery day) so how do you store the dough in your fridge? Can you describe the types of containers that you use? For the winter I have a unfinished corner in my cellar that will stay cold enough, but that gets up to about 60 in the summer.


  13. Joann says:

    Elizabeth – great idea about taking the parchment out to finish the bottom crust. Robin – we live in an RV with a perpetually small fridge. Forget packed! LOL We have been keeping the dough in a cooler with a block of ice and this has worked fine. Usually there is also milk in there so I can get the dough bucket (we use a square 5 quart ice cream bucket) on top of the milk and not next to the ice. We’ll probably get either another tiny, tiny hotel size fridge or more likely a coleman plug-in cooler eventually. We have to keep things light!

  14. Melissa Wiley says:

    Robin, I’ll try to take a picture of my dough container today. It’s a 14 cup (I think) Rubbermaid bin. It fits on the bottom shelf of our fridge with the big Brita dispenser, one gallon of milk, and my pitcher of iced tea. That’s pretty much the whole shelf. :/

    I also got a smaller container (actually a salad storage container—perfect because it has tiny airholes in the lid—so I can keep two different kinds of dough going at once. My plan is to rotate the batch out of the bigger container after I’ve baked the first loaf. It’ll fit in the smaller container then, and I can start a new batch of dough in the big one. This way I can have rye bread and whole wheat dough ready at the same time. Before this book came into my life, we usually went through one loaf of (storebought) rye & 3 loaves of whole wheat each week.

    Elizabeth, thanks for that parchment tip. I am psyched to switch over to that because the cornmeal was beginning to drive me crazy.

    Can I just say again how awesome it has been to have dough in the fridge ready to go at the drop of a hat? This week I had two occasions to bake a spontaneous loaf—one friend’s birthday, and another friend came over to help us with a plumbing task—and it felt SO GOOD to be able to plop some dough in a loaf pan and know I had a nice something to give. 🙂

  15. Melissa Wiley says:

    P.S. Joann: 5 qt ice cream bucket sounds PERFECT for dough storage. And what a great excuse to eat 5 qts of ice cream first. 😉

  16. Jennifer says:

    Great tip on parchment! The only downside to this method was that my house smelled like burned cornmeal instead of freshly baked bread and that’s just unacceptable.

  17. Christine M says:

    I got the bread book out of the library today and just mixed up my first batch – just the basic to get started. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

  18. Elizabeth M says:

    I’m so glad you all like the parchment idea. It’s made it so much easier around here. The first time I tried it, I was afraid it would stick. But so far it’s been very easy to slide out toward the end of baking.

    For storage, I have this container, although we picked it and a lid up at a restaurant supply store pretty cheaply.

    I like being able to see it rise — and so do the kids.

    I like the idea of moving dough to a second container so I can have 2 doughs going at once. I haven’t tried that yet. But I saw on the authors’ Web site that he moves dough to smaller jars when the batch is almost done.

  19. Robin says:

    Oh, dear. There is a full 5 qt bucket of chocolate fudge ice cream given to me last week by someone who doesn’t understand Lent, or….is helping me with my sacrifice. Yes, that’s what I meant to say. I like trying this with a “disposable” container to see if I like it, and then picking up a square container if this method works for me.

    And the parchment paper idea is a great one. I used to make 3 round pizzas on my one department store stone by this sort of round-robin method. With a little margin around, it gives you “handles” to, er, handle the hot pizza/loaf.

  20. Robin says:

    -Ungrateful woman now remembers to say “thank you” for all of the great advice-

    Thank you!

  21. Joann says:

    Lissa, we swap with the salad bowl, too. And it does work.

  22. ~~Rhonda says:

    Re: hard crusts…if you put a clean dry cloth on the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven, leaving it on until the loaf cools, the crust will be softer and nicer for sandwich bread. Just a tip. 🙂 ~~Rhonda

  23. Mary says:

    I have been using this book for a while now… and love it. If you spray the pan with cooking spray, you don’t need a peel at all. I usually make all 3 loves at one time on a round pizza pan and freeze what I don’t need. If you are still only getting 2 loaves it is probably due to the lack of humidity in CA, I had the same issue in AZ, but now in VA it is totally different. The basic dough is great for cutting into rolls, or rolling out large and making pizza or calzones! Enjoy!

  24. Lisa says:

    What a big, strapping fella he’s growing into!