Franskbrod, Page 74, March 24, 2018

First of all, this loaf is actually “Franskbrød” but I could not figure out how to get the correct character in the title.  This is the most common white bread found in Scandinavia, and although the name literally translates to “French Bread,”  it contains an egg, so it technically doesn’t qualify as a true French Bread.  Ms. Hensperger notes that she adapted this recipe from one written by Beatrice Ojakangas.

I am in the mood for a simple white bread, I am out of both milk and butter, so I needed a recipe that calls for neither.

I placed my ingredients in the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup water

1 large egg

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon gluten

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

I am using the French bread cycle on my machine, although the basic cycle could be used as well.  I am also using the “medium” crust setting.

Please note, that because this loaf contains an egg, you should not use the delay timer.

This is a lovely loaf of bread, light and chewy on the inside with a crunchy, golden crust.

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I have tried it a couple different ways, so far. I had my first slice, still warm, dipping bits into Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic Oil.  Wow.  Now, I’ve just had another slice drizzled with wildflower honey and served with a cup of tea.  I can understand why this is a popular bread in the Northern European countries of Scandinavia; it is simple and hearty, with a crust that should stand up nicely to being dipped in a bowl of hot soup or stew.  (Hmm, guess I know how I will be eating my next piece.)

 

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Virginia Light Rolls, Page 86, December 22, 2017

I was in charge of dinner rolls for our traditional Christmas Eve Dinner at my cousin’s house.  We have missed this particular get together over the past few years and now that Mom and Dad are back home for the holidays, I am really looking forward to seeing everyone.

After making rolls for Thanksgiving and shaping them using the cloverleaf-style, I decided to attempt fantan-style rolls this time.  (More on the shaping escapades to follow the recipe)

Into the bread machine pan, I placed:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

3 tablespoons honey

2 large eggs

1 – 1/2 teaspoons salt

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

4 – 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

I set the machine for the “Dough” cycle and set about greasing my muffin tins.  When the machine signaled the end of the cycle, I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured mat.

I then rolled the dough into a rectangle 18 x 14 inches and brushed the surface with melted butter.  At this point in my retelling, I am going to quote the cookbook directly.

“Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 long strips of equal width.  Stack the strips on top of each other to form a layered pile.  With a sharp knife, cut in half.  Cut each half into 6 equal portions.  Place each portion in a muffin cup with the cut edge facing up (they will open as they bake). Brush each with melted butter.”

I covered the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and allowed them to rise at room temperature for 45 minutes.

I am not sure what I did wrong, but I certainly did something. After rising, the rolls looked like something exploding our of the muffin tins.  I went ahead and baked them, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, but for the second batch, I shaped them as cloverleaf rolls, following the same rising and baking instructions.

The rolls baked up golden brown and tasted delightful.  The issue I had was with the density.  They just seemed so heavy.  One of the dinner guests said the following, “They were very good but a little dense.”

Again, no photos. You will have to trust me that the first batch looked crazy.

 

 

Cranberry – Golden Raisin Bread with Cardamom, page 443, December 20, 2017

I am gifting bread to a few people this Christmas and this is the first loaf I am including in the gift baskets.  I will write all these recipes as I bake, but will not post them on the website until after Christmas.

According to Ms. Hensperger, traditionally Scandinavian Raisin Breads include cardamom.  I am used to raisin breads spiced with cinnamon, so it will be interesting to see how this loaf differs from what I know.

Because I am baking several loaves, then gifting them all later, I want to be sure not to allow the bread to dry out.  Here I am paraphrasing the author’s instructions for freezing bread:

First, be aware that freezing bread at home will keep it fresh for a maximum of 3 months.  Longer than that, and your bread will definitely become stale.  To freeze bread or rolls, first bake and then cool completely at room temperature.  (If your recipe calls for glazing or icing, that should not be done before freezing, but just prior to serving.)  Once the loaf or rolls are completely cooled, wrap whole or pre-sliced loaves first in good quality plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil or a plastic freezer bag.  (A double layer or freezer bags is also acceptable.

To thaw, let the loaf or rolls stand at room temperature for about 3 hours.

That said, I placed my ingredients in the bread machine in the following order:

1 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

1 tablespoon gluten

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

After selecting the light crust and sweet bread settings, I measured out the cranberries and golden raisins to add later in the cycle.

When the machine indicated the point between kneads 1 and 2, I added:

2/3 cup golden raisins

2/3 cup dried cranberries

This loaf baked up beautifully, with a rounded dome and golden brown colored crust.  I didn’t think to take any photographs of this one though, and this is one I haven’t been able to taste test.  I spoke with one of my recipients today and she will let me know what they think after they try it.  I will update this post at that time.

 

Amaretto Bread, page 518, December 20, 2017

This is another of my “Christmas Gift” breads this year.  This recipe includes both amaretto liqueur and eggnog so it will taste, I hope, delicious and be reminiscent of the holiday season in every bite.

The note included by the author mentions that if your eggnog is thick, you may need to add another tablespoon or so to the amount listed.  I have kind of a standard commercial eggnog here, so I will be using the amount from the recipe.

The first step in the preparation of this bread is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  While that is heating, coarsely chop 3/4 cup (3 ounces) whole almonds.  Then, spread the almonds evenly on a clean baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Into the bread machine pan went the following:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon commercial eggnog

1/4 cup amaretto liqueur

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces  (can substitute 2 tablespoons almond oil)

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon gluten

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast

Set crust for medium and use the “Basic” bread setting.  When the machine beeped indicating the cycle point between Knead 1 and Knead 2, I added the chopped, toasted almonds.

As the loaf baked, it smelled really lovely. I noted the eggnog scent more than the amaretto, though.  The finished loaf had a dark crust and nice dome shape.

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This recipe recommends a dusting of Almond Confectioners’ Sugar prior to serving.  I prepared the sugar using the following recipe, and planned to include a small container with each gift.

Place 1 cup blanched almonds in the workbowl of a food processor with 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar.  Process until finely ground and fluffy.  Add another 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and process until a fine powder is created.  This created a fluffy sugar that, stored in an airtight container, will keep at room temperature for up to 1 month.

That shared, I totally forgot to include any of the Almond Sugar with the gifts, so now I have a rather large container of Almond Confectioners’ Sugar here at home that I have to figure out what to do with.

This loaf is only slightly sweet with a soft, chewy texture.  The flavor is good, but it doesn’t scream Eggnog or Amaretto.  I enjoyed it, and would make it again.

I got a couple quotes from my cousins, Cathy and Michael on this loaf.

“Delicious Toasted!”

“It is great toasted with honey and butter.”

 

Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls, page 356, November 19, 2017

I am ready to tackle recipe two in my Thanksgiving pregame lineup.  I’ve actually never made yeast rolls before, bread machine or otherwise, so this is totally a new experience for me.  We are having 8 for Thanksgiving dinner and this will provide 2 rolls per person.  I originally thought to make 2 batches, but have since changed my mind.

This recipe can be made using any winter squash you prefer.  You can use canned/pureed or cook and puree your own.  I am taking the slightly easier route of using canned pumpkin to save a little time.

Ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (again, any winter squash puree you enjoy can be used here)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar (I am using light)

1 Tablespoon dried orange peel

2 1/4 teaspoons SAF yeast

I programmed my machine for the dough cycle and let it begin. While the machine was working, I took the opportunity to grease 16 muffin cups and set them aside.

When the machine beeped at the end of the cycle, I removed the dough to a lightly floured work space.  The dough was then divided into 4 equal portions, with each of those 4 being again divided into 4.  (I now had 16 portions.)  To make the cloverleaf style roll, I then divided each of my 16 portions into 3 equal pieces, rolled each piece into a small walnut-sized ball and arranged each group of 3 into a muffin cup.  Once the muffin cups were filled, I loosely covered them with plastic wrap and set them aside to rise until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).

While the rolls were rising, I preheated my oven to 375 degrees, Fahrenheit.

Once the oven was heated and the rolls were sufficiently risen, I ended up baking them for 17 minutes (the recipe says 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.)  I then immediately removed the rolls from the pan and set them on a rack to cool completely.  Since I am making these ahead of time, once they are cooled, I put them into airtight containers in my freezer to be reheated on Thanksgiving day.

They baked up large and fluffy, and I will post photos and reviews after the holiday.

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Not a great photo, but I forgot to take pictures until this morning and these are the only leftovers.

These were really delicious; ever so slightly sweet with just a hint of orange flavor and the delightfully yeasty smell that only seems to come from homemade baking. My sister made black-eyed peas as part of our Thanksgiving feast and several  our cousin, Mike, really liked using these rolls to dunk in that yummy broth.

Yogurt Bread, page 54, November 13, 2017

I had my sister over for a visit not too long ago when I cooked Lebanese food one day.  (We try, every once in a while, to have a day where we have a meal from another country.)  That said, I was left with some plain yogurt now nearing its expiration date and I came across this recipe in the cookbook.  Ms. Hensperger recommends using this bread the day it is baked and that it is a “perfect sandwich bread”.

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I placed the ingredients into the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

3/4 cup water

2 tsp. salt

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 Tbl. gluten

2 tsp. SAF yeast

 

This loaf uses the basic bread and dark crust settings.  It is noted that the you should not use the delay timer when making this loaf.  Another thing worth mentioning is that your dough ball will look sticky.  There is no need to add additional flour, as the stickiness will correct itself during the kneading process.

As this was baking, the smell reminded me quite a lot of some sourdough breads I have baked in the past.

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This loaf is really lovely, the crust has a slight snap, but the interior of the loaf is moist, chewy and delicious.  I tried a slice with just butter and it was great, but I also made a grilled cheese sandwich later in the evening and a fried egg sandwich this morning, both of which were perfect on this bread.  I really can’t express just how much I like this loaf; it is very slightly sour and delightfully soft and chewy.

Beer Bread, page 67, November 11, 2017

Fall has fallen here; everything is gray, wet and windy, perfect weather  for homemade soup and bread.  I started a batch of split pea and ham soup in the slow cooker this morning and realized how good that will taste with some freshly baked bread.  Flipping through the cookbook, I came across this recipe and think it will be an ideal November supper.

Now, if you are an aficionado of beer, you can choose anything, dark or light, domestic or imported, and know that it will uniquely change the flavor of your bread.  I am not, however, a beer aficionado, I am not even a beer fan.  That said, I had an old can of Budweiser in my fridge left over from “heaven knows when” and that is what I am using.  (Hipsters and beer-snobs, scoff if you must.)

First step was opening the 12- oz. can of beer and pouring it into a bowl for a couple hours to go flat.

After the beer was sufficiently “flattened,” I poured it into the bread machine pan.  To that, I added 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 1/2 cups bread flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 2 1/2 teaspoons of SAF yeast.

This loaf used the basic cycle and the dark crust setting.

Unlike most recipes in Ms. Hensperger’s book, this one doesn’t call for the addition of gluten.  My assumption is that the beer makes up for any deficiency.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence.” — M.F.K. Fisher

The yeasty beer smell while this was mixing, kneading and baking was really mouth-watering.   I tried a little slice warm with butter and it is a tasty loaf, slightly sweet with great crumb and crust. I didn’t really get a flavor that screamed “beer” to me, but that could change with a different, more flavorful brew.

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As you can see from the photo, this loaf definitely did NOT crater, which is nice, after the last several fails. I’m not sure to call what did happen here, but it isn’t a crater.

All in all, this tastes incredible and went so well with the homemade soup.  I will make this one again.  I might even buy a bottle of beer specially for it, instead of using some ancient can from the back of my fridge.