The Fabulous Baker Girl

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4-H Oatmeal Bread November 5, 2009

Filed under: Bread,Uncategorized,Yeast Breads — amynb2008 @ 2:15 pm
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Baking bread is a very satisfying process.  When you get it right.  And I don’t always get it right.  On the bright side, I have learned a few helpful things along the way and I would like to pass those things along to you.baking bread 034

The first lesson learned I like to call “The Baby Principle”.  You may wonder what babies and bread have in common and I have a very good answer to that.   Yeast usually needs to be proofed before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.  That just means you mix it with a little warm water to “wake” it up.  I also like to add a pinch of sugar or a drizzle of honey so the yeast has something to eat as well.  This makes it very happy and your water-yeast mixture will get all bubbly and expand and smell like bread.  The trick to this is getting your water the right temperature.  Too cool won’t wake up the yeast and too hot (140 degrees) will kill it.  You need a happy medium.  Most bakers will tell you this means about 110-115 degrees.  To me, it means a baby bath.  I check the temperature of my water by running it over my wrist.  If it’s the right temperature for a baby’s bath, it’s good for the yeast too.  Hence, The Baby Principle.

For you  non-parents out there…invest in a thermometer until you feel confident using your sense of touch.

Some other things I’ve learned:

*  Always use yeast that is fresh.  If it’s not fresh, the yeast won’t work and your bread won’t rise.

* Dough usually needs a lot of kneading so you enlist the help of the whole family.

* When the dough is ready it should be smooth and feel like your earlobe…or a baby’s bottom (another part of The Baby Principle).

* When it is time for the dough to rise, find a nice warm place.  I usually turn my oven to the lowest setting while I make the dough.  When it comes to temperature, I turn it off.  That makes the oven nice and toasty for the dough.  Another good spot is on top of the refrigerator.  If you do use your oven, be sure not to turn it on while the dough is in there or all your hard work will be ruined.

* To check to see if the bread is done you can tap it.  If it sounds hallow it is done.  I find that taking the temperature of the loaf at the bottom is better.  It should be at 190 degrees.

* As hard as it seems, do not cut the bread until it has cooled.  Cutting into too soon will change the texture and make it a bit doughy

* Just be patient!  Bread making isn’t that hard once you get a little practice but it is a lesson in patience.  Embrace it!

The recipe I made yesterday is called 4-H Oatmeal Bread.  It’s a good recipe for beginners because it’s not only delicious but also pretty easy to make.  You start out by making oatmeal and then adding all your other ingredients to it.  It has lots of honey in it so it is slightly sweet and when it’s warm you can even get a hint of butter.   The recipe calls for the dough to only rise once, but I wasn’t happy with that so I let the dough rise again in the pans until it took the shape of the pan and has risen to just over the top.  I also used a little whole wheat flour (and no one even knew!) for more nutrition.

This bread is delicious, soft, and makes good toast.  I haven’t tried it on a sandwich yet, but I suspect it would work beautifully for that as well.  In short, this bread is well worth the time I put into it.  Besides, my girls wanted to help and it’s always nice getting to hang out with them!

Give this recipe a try and keep my tips in mind.  I think you’ll be happy too.

4-H Oatmeal Breadbaking bread 042

2 cups boiling water

1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

2 packages dry active yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)

1/3 cup warm water

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4-5 cups flour

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water

In a large mixer bowl, pour boiling water over oatmeal.  Let rest for 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, mix together water and yeast.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add the salt, honey, and melted butter to the oatmeal.  Mix in the yeast mixture.  Gradually add in enough flour to make a kneadable dough.  Knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary.  The dough should be elastic, smooth, and soft.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl.  Turn dough to coat.  Cover dough with a damp cloth and put in a warm  place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.  Preheat over to 325 degrees.  After dough has risen, punch down and divide into two equal parts.  Shape into loaves and place into two 8 X 4 loaf pans that have been sprinkled with oats.  Brush loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with more oats.  Bake for about 50 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool.


Mallorca Bread September 20, 2009

Filed under: Bread,Uncategorized,Yeast Breads — amynb2008 @ 7:44 pm
Tags: ,

I love chocolate.  That’s never been a secret.  I often say that it’s my favorite food but I think there is one thing that might rival chocolate.mallorca bread 001

Bread.  Really, really good bread.  Hot and buttery.


One of my favorite breads come from a restaurant called Carson’s.  It’s slight chewy on the outside, warm and soft on the outside and served with a side of citrus butter.  It is so good, that I am often disappointed in my actual entree because I’d rather just have the bread.

Another favorite, are the rolls from the Common Grill in Chelsea and yet another is the baguette from Cafe Japon.


I am a member of a new website called Tasty Kitchen (  Those of you who follow the Pioneer Woman will know of this site.  While I was looking through the recipes there, I came across one for Pan de Malloraca or Mallorca Bread posted by a member from the food blog The Noshery (  These little rolls looked like soft, edible clouds.  They looked heavenly and were simply too good to pass up so yesterday, I gave them a try.

By looking at these breads, you would think they would be complicated to make.  On the contrary, they were very easy.  The dough is sweet and very rich, containing a whole stick of butter and six egg yolks.   It requires no kneading.  It is also very soft.  To form the bread you must roll out portions into strips to be curled into a coil.  I found this part the most difficult because the dough was so soft.  Or it could have been that I had a two-year old distracting me, insistent on either eating the dough or drinking the melted butter.  Not sure which.  In either case, the dough wasn’t as difficult to work with as it looked like it would be but I did find it hard to roll out evenly.  Still, they slowly took shape, some better than others, and baked up soft and sweet.   It was a hit with the whole family.  I particularly enjoyed watching Howie and Norah sitting side by side eating our Mallorca and watching football.  Ella loved that you “got the texture of bread and the sweetness of the powdered sugar.”  Even Melanie liked it.  And that’s saying something!

I think these are great little breads.  They are rich and sweet and delicious.  I had mine with tea and the flavors complemented each other so well.  They seemed to be made for each other.  I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.  It is time consuming since the dough does need to rise three times, which will take nearly 3 hours for rise time alone.  Still, like all good bread,  it’s worth the wait.

You can find the complete recipe at The Noshery:


English Muffin Loaf (a.k.a the bread we had at the cottage) July 31, 2009

I love having fans.

Okay, so fans might be a bit of a stretch but it’s nice knowing that a few of my nearest and dearest friends actually read this blog of mine.  It’s even nicer knowing that some of them (okay one of them) even wants recipes that I’ve made for them.

So Jason…this one is for you.

English Muffin Loaf

English Muffin Loaf

It’s a recipe for English muffin loaf and in terms of yeast breads it’s about as easy as it gets.  You basically just mix the ingredients together, let it rise in the pan, and bake it.  Not much to it.  I like to make it at night since it’s so easy to throw together.  Then you’ve got nice fresh bread for toast in the morning.  Serve it with homemade jam for best results!

English Muffin Loaf

from King Arthur’s Flour

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (if you use dry active, proof it with the water first)*
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan

  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl.

    Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F. The liquid will feel very hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would scald you. As a reference point, the hottest water from your kitchen tap is probably around 120°F (unless your tap water is so hot that it burns you).

    Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

    Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very soft.

    Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

    Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.

    Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn’t be more than, say, 1/4″ over the rim. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn’t very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

    Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 20 to 22 minutes, till it’s golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

    Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

    * A note about proofing:  “Proofing” is basically just waking up the yeast by adding it to some warm water.  Make sure your water is about 100 to 110 degrees.  Make sure it’s not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast.  I always figure that if the temperature is good enough for a baby’s bath, it’s good enough for yeast.  I like to add a pinch of sugar to it so the yeast has some food to feast on after their long slumber.  After about 5 minutes the yeast should be all bubbly and frothy and smell like bread.  IF it does that, the yeast is alive and well and ready to use.


The History of a Happy Accident June 2, 2009

Let’s face it.  I can be pretty uptight at times.  I let myself get all stressed out about things over which I have no control.  I’m working on that.  However, there are things that just make me shudder and I feel perfectly justified in letting myself get all worked up over them and their horrible-ness.   Adam Lambert, for example.  Or when people drive sideways down parking lots instead of driving in the designated lane.  Or, whining children.

Or…the  Atkin’s Diet.  (Good grief…what was he thinking?)

Bread has a fascinating history and has been a part of the human experience since ancient times.  In fact, bread is one of the oldest foods known to man.  Yes, I know berries, seeds, and meat came first.  But bread was essentially the first food that man created.

Most likely, bread came about by accident.  Early Humans would gather wild grains,  toast them to get off the hard outer shell, and then pound them into a meal.  They would then mix the meal with water (ancient oatmeal?).  It was later discovered that when this paste was left by the fire, it turned into a type of flat bread.   Leavened bread came later when the paste was left to stand and collect wild yeast that caused the paste to ferment (again, all an accident).

Eventually, man learned to grow his own seeds and harvest his own yeast and the ancient baker was born.  For years bread was made only by master bakers and eaten by the elite because it was so expensive.  As technology developed, grains were more easily mass-milled and became more affordable to bakeries and for the first time, the home cook.  From there, it was an easy jump from complex, artisnal bread to mass-produced, squishy, flavorless bread that has found it’s way to most of our tables.  Mine included.

Few things have followed human history in quite the way bread has.  By looking at the development of bread from ancient times on, you can pretty much trace the path of human development, agriculture, technology, and sociology.  It has been a staple of our diets and the center of our social circles since ancient times.

I, for one, am glad diets like the Atkins are falling from favor.  While I agree that we should move away from mass-produced “wonder” bread and other high-carb bread products (if only my kids agreed), giving up well-made, fresh bread is just, well, it’s just plain wrong.


I won’t go into the reasons why bread should be a part of our balance diet, but I will say that eating a really good piece of bread, fresh from the oven and slathered with butter is soul-satisfying.  It fills up more than your stomach.

And if you agree with that — just think what actually baking a loaf can do for you!

One thing I love about baking is that you take a few basic ingredients and with some care, turn them into something special.  Bread is the epitome of this.  It basically consists of flour, yeast, and water but when you add a little salt, maybe a little honey and knead it all together it becomes something that engages your senses and draws people together.

If you’ve never baked your own bread, I urge you to give it a try.  The whole process is a lesson in patience, but it’s so very satisfying at the same time.  Be prepared to have to bake a few loaves before you get a feel for what to do.  Once you’ve got it, you won’t be sorry and there will be no going back.

You can find recipes all over the Internet.  I suggest trying to find one on a blog.  Those usually come with reviews so you’ll get a good idea whether or not the recipe is a good fit for you.  I also highly recommend getting a good bread baking book.  My current favorite is “Brother Juniper’s Bread Book”.  While this book offers much for the seasoned baker, it’s simple enough for the beginning baker as well.  I’ve made a few of the recipes with great success.

Bread does more than just nourish our bodies.  It feeds our souls, joins us together with a commonality, and gives us a link to our own human history.  What other food does this?  And how can you stay away from it?

Take it from me.  Don’t even try.

Wheat and Buttermilk Bread

Wheat and Buttermilk Bread

Wheat and Buttermilk Bread

from Brother Juniper’s Bread Book

Makes two 1 1/2 pound loaves

6 cups high-gluten bread flour

3 cups coarsely ground whole wheat flour (I just used regular whole wheat flour)

1/2 cup dark malt crystals or powder (or use equal amount of honey or 3/4 cup brown sugar)

2 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

4 teaspoons salt, preferably sea salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

Approximately 2 cups water

Mixing and Kneading

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, and water, reserving a little water for later adjustments.  Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead for 10-12 minutes (yes, you must do this).  The dough should be soft and elastic.  It should be tacky but not sticky and easily pressed out.


Place the kneaded dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp wrap.  Put in a warm place and allow 45 minutes for rising.  Allow between 1  and 1 1/2 hours if you leave the dough at room temperature.  When the dough has doubled in volume, shape into 2 equal-sized loaves by flattening each half, folding it over itself, sealing the seam and then rolling it slightly, seam side down.  Place loaves in greased 9 x 4 1/2  x 3-inch pans.  This loaf can be baked naked on top or brushed with a mild egg wash (one egg mixed with 4 cups of water) and sprinkled with sesame seeds or rolled oat.  (I used poppy seeds and wheat germ.)  Cover and let rise another 45-60 minutes or until dough crests over the top of the pan top.


Bake loaves at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until bottom when thumped yields the famous thwack sound.

Note:  I usually take my bread’s temperature.  I look for at least 190 degrees internally.  Be sure to let your bread cool for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting or it will become doughy.   Yes…I understand that’s asking a lot of you.  Just be patient, Grasshopper, and you will be rewarded.


Indian Fry Bread April 9, 2009

Filed under: Bread — amynb2008 @ 1:15 pm

This week was Spring Break for my oldest daughter and I really wanted to do some baking with my girls.  It’s Thursday and we really haven’t done too much but we did manage to get in some Indian Fry Bread.  It’s not really a baked product.  It’s fried (hence the name, fry bread).  But really…who cares?cherry-pie-and-other-things-0541

I once had a recipe for fry bread that I used to use when I was teaching.  It fit nicely into my Michigan History unit.  Unfortunately, I don’t know where that is so I had to do a little searching.  I came across this recipe on  I don’t know how authentic is it, but it’s easy to prepare and pretty darn good.   My girls loved it.  I believe one of their exact words were, “If I had to eat this every day, I would!!”  

I’d call that a success!

Basic Fry Bread Recipe

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces warm water

4 ounces warm milk

Oil for frying

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add warm water and milk in small amounts and knead dough until soft but not sticky.  Adjust flour or water to achieve desired  consistency.  Divided into 8 equal pieces.  Flatten into thin rounds with your hands (I used a tortilla press).  Fill a cast iron skillet until it is about half full.  Fry dough until bubbles appear on the dough, turn over and fry on the other side unti golden.  This should take but a few minutes total.  Drain on a paper towel.  Serve hot.

I only filled the skillet  about 1/4 inch with oil.  I let it heat up until a small piece of bread turned golden brown when I put it in.  It only takes about a minute a side to cook.


Bargain Bread April 6, 2009

Filed under: Bread,Quick Breads — amynb2008 @ 7:05 pm

I used to be a consultant for Tastefully Simple.  It was a lot of fun, but I was no good at it.  I’m just not much of a sales

Beer Bread

Beer Bread

 person.   Luckily, some of the products sold themselves and one of my favorite things was one of them.  Beer Bread.  Yum!  If you’ve never had beer bread, you’re really missing out.  If you don’t drink beer (like me) don’t worry.  You can’t taste it.  The beer just gives it a little bit of tang.  


You can use other carbonated liquids too.  Mountain Dew mixed in with a little bit of cinnamon chips and drizzled with a simple powdered sugar glaze is a really nice treat.  You can even use a cherry cola and make a cherry flavored glaze.   Use your imagination.  The original beer bread is fabulous with bread.  Leftovers, if you have any, aren’t good by itself, but they make a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich.  

Besides this recipe being pretty versatile, it is also inexpensive.  You don’t need expensive beer here.  Guiness in not required!  Use what you have or what’s on sale.   Besides the beer, all the other ingredients you’ll have on hand.  When I started out with Tastefully Simple, a package to make one loaf of beer bread was $4.99.  Today is is $5.49.  To me, that makes this bread not only versatile…but a bargain!


Beer Batter Bread

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1 12-ounce bottle of beer

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add the beer all at once and mix as little as possible until just combined.  The batter will be lumpy.

Pour into a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing or it will just fall apart on you.

NOTE:  The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of butter.  That’s just way to much for me — but go ahead and give it a try if you must.  Long live Paula Deen!


An International Affair March 20, 2009

Irish Soda Bread 


Irish Soda Bread


This was a busy week.  St. Patrick’s Day just screamed at me to make Irish Soda Bread.  Tuesdays with Dorie called and, of course, I had baking class.  Oh…so many things to bake.  So little time.  


My daughters and I had a playdate on Monday.  A friend of ours had a little St. Patrick’s Day lunch.  I offered to bring the Irish Soda Bread.  A group in my baknig class had made this last week and I loved its yellow hue and tender crumb.  If you’ve never had soda bread, it’s a bit like scones only bigger.  It’s not very sweet but the raisins offer a nice contrast to this.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a bit of a sweet tooth.  That is precisely why I added a nice dusting of sugar on the top of my loaf.  It added a subtle crunch as well as a little sweetness.  Personally, I could have used even more sugar on top.  I found this recipe to be a little too bland.  A few more raisins would help too.

Normally, I would post all the projects we made in baking class but I forgot my camera.  Our group made bread this week.  We made olive oil bread, a fabulous recipe created by our lab assistant.  It’s a soft, squishy bread flavored lightly with olive oil and molasses.  Fresh out of the oven, it is brushed with an olive oil, salt, and garlic mixture.  Oh…it is a thing of beauty.  We also made foccacia topped with carmalized onions, tomatoes, and olives.  This stuff is amazing.  It’s my new favorite.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Lastly, although not bread, we made biscotti.  Dipped in chocolate.   Again…dee-licious!  I had actually never had biscotti before.  I’m not a fan of hard cookies, but these were really good.  They were studded with pecans, cranberries, and white chocolate.  Very nice.

So…this brings me to Tuesdays with Dorie.  The selection for the week was French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze.  This sounded good to me.  It wasn’t chocolate, but it seemed like a nice choice.  It was super easy to make.  I would

French Yogurt Cake

French Yogurt Cake

venture to guess even a novice could make it.  It didn’t require any fancy equipment and, all except for the lemon marmalade, the ingredients were pretty common.  I whipped this cake up in the midst of kitchen chaos.  A mini tornado in the form of a 19-month-old girl who decided to empty out my baking cabinet.  Somehow, I managed to bake it up without breaking anything.  


When the cake was done baking, it was a deep brown.  I was worried it might be too dry if I overbaked it.  While still warm, I brushed it with orange marmalde (couldn’t find the lemon).  The top turned all glisten-y and inviting.   Sitting on my counter, it still drew a lot of attention.  I could barely control my desire to just break off a piece.  One of my daughters cleaned her plate to make sure she got a piece.  That’s a feat in and of itself.

Dessert time came.  I whipped up some lightly sweetened cream to top off the cake.  I served it up to my three girls first.  All three of them devoured it and not just the whipped cream.  Another feat!  My husband thoroughly enjoyed it as well.  As for me?  Well…let me tell you a little story.

Today after lunch, I wanted something a little sweet.  On my counter was the last remaining peice of French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze and a 3-pack of Ferrero-Rocher chocolate hazelnut candy (my favorite!).  I reached for the candy.  My intention was to only take one piece…but, alas…I decided on the cake instead.  That is how good this cake is.  No — it’s never going to replace chocolate but it is a nice change.  It’s not too sweet and the marmalade glaze made a sticky goodness that I loved.  The cake was actually moist and even though it was a deeper shade of brown than I expected, that added a nice change in texture from the cake itself.  It’s the kind of desset that doesn’t seem like a dessert at all, but is still satisfying.

I think this one is a keeper!

with Fresh Whipped Cream

with Fresh Whipped Cream











French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

from Baking From My Home to Yours

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 ground almonds (or just use 1/2 cup extra flour)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used an orange)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 1/2 cup flavorless oil, like canola or safflower

 For the Glaze

 1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained (I used orange)

1 teaspoon water

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter an 81/2-x-41/2-inch loaf pan and place pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and rub the zest in the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk vigorously until the mixture is well blended.  Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula adn fold in the oil.  You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen.  Scrape batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan.  It should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan.  Unmold and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Put the marmalade in a small saucepan or a microwave-safe bowl.  STirl i nthe the water adn heat until the jelly is hot and liquefied.  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.