Soft Pretzels, Page 144, September 8, 2018

With family visiting this weekend, I thought these would be great for nibbling on and also a fun group project.

I placed the following in the bread machine pan:

1/2 cup water

1 cup nonfat milk (the recipe doesn’t specify fat content for the milk, nonfat is what I used.)

4 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon malt powder (you can substitute sugar, but the flavor added by the malt powder really can’t be beat.)pretzel day

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast



Once in the bread machine pan, I set the program for the “Dough” cycle and let it get started.

While the machine was making the dough, I lined 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Once the machine beeped indicating the end of the cycle, I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured work area.  I then divided the dough into 12 equal portions.  Now was the time to bring in my reinforcements.

Mom, Becky and I each started shaping our pretzels.  With the palms, we shaped each portion into a 20″ rope.  Then, holding the ends of the rope, we twisted the ends together, brought the twisted  end up and over the loop, attaching it to the bottom center.  It was definitely a learning experience.  I can honestly say that some of them came out looking like pretzels.

Once shaped, the rolls were placed on the prepared baking sheets and allowed to rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the pretzels were resting, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, made an egg glaze and prepared a water/baking soda bath.  (You can skip the water/soda bath if you prefer soft breadlike pretzels.)

The egg glaze was made by beating 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon of water.

The bath was prepared by boiling 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a large deep pan

When the pretzels are done resting, I used a large spatula  to carefully lift a risen pretzel and lower it into the boiling water.  You can boil 2 pretzels at once.  Leaving the water at a low rolling boil, I boiled each pretzel for between 45 and 60 seconds, flipping is over halfway though the time.  Once each pretzel was puffy, I removed it from the bath using a slotted spoon, and allowed the excess water to drip back into the pan before placing the boiled roll back on the prepared baking sheet.

I brushed each pretzel with the egg glaze and sprinkled with a little coarse kosher sea salt.  The pretzels were baked, one pan at a time, in the center of the oven for about 18 minutes (the recipes says 16-20).

The pretzels were placed on a rack to cool.  They can be eaten warm or stored (covered in a single layer of tin foil) at room temperature for up to 3 days.  I honestly don’t think we will need to be storing many of these, they are too good.  Becky (my sister) brought some cheese sauce so we all sat around dipping warm pretzels in cheese.  I really doubt there will be any left tomorrow.


They are delicious, chewy, slightly salty with the outer texture I expect from soft pretzels.  I doubt I would have liked them quite as much without the water bath.  Admittedly, they don’t look a whole lot like pretzels, but they are delicious.  I also imagine, because they are shaped more like rolls than pretzels, they would make great sandwich buns.

Another keeper, I may be making this one whenever I have company coming.



Crescia Al Formaggio, page 373, September 6, 2018

This is going to be a busy weekend here in Long Beach.  The annual “Rod Run to the End of the World” car show and cruise is scheduled.  My parents are coming down and dad is bringing one of his cars for the show.  My sister is also planning to come down and other relatives will be in town as well.  I thought this was the perfect time for a simple eating loaf of bread.

The recipe says that this is:

“A great picnic bread eaten out of hand with cold meats and fruit.”

I think that sounds just about perfect for nibbling at on the deck as we watch the classic cars cruise by.

The recipe further states that you can vary the taste of this bread by varying the cheese you use for it.  The ingredient list calls for Asiago or Locatelli, but I am using Parmesan because it is another hard grating cheese and  I happen to have it on hand.

Into my bread machine, went these ingredients (in order):

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon room temperature water

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 1/4 cups bread flour

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons gluten

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons SAF yeast.


I set the machine for the Basic cycle and a medium crust.

The machine is a little noisy. Because I bought it used, that may just be something I have to deal with.  It is still baking beautifully, so I will gladly deal with some noise.

This loaf baked up tall and beautiful and smells wonderful.


This is a really tasty loaf of bread, I made beef stew for dinner and served slices of this with butter.  It was delicious.  Just enough parmesan flavor, slightly chewy crust, with a tender interior.  I think this would make great garlic toast served with pasta, or even toasted slices with tapenade.  This recipe is certainly a keeper.  (And I am loving the results with the new bread machine.)

Hot Jalapeño Bread with Longhorn Cheese, page 380, August 2015

I wanted to bake this loaf for my dad, and since he will be home soon, I got it ready and put it in the freezer for him.  I am not a fan of really spicy foods.  I own my wimphood.  When I go out to a Thai restaurant and they ask, “How spicy, 1 to 4?”  I always answer, “zero.”  I think Dad will appreciate this one, though.

The author notes in the cookbook that the jalapeños, being added at the beginning of the cycle, get well incorporated into the dough, but to be prepared for “a little burst of heat on your tongue after each bite.”

Before beginning this loaf, I drained and dried (using a paper towel), a 4 ounce can of diced jalapeños, removing as many seeds as possible.  I also shredded 4 ounces of longhorn cheddar cheese.

Once the jalapeños were dried, I added my ingredients to the bread machine.  In order, I placed 1 cup water, the jalapeños, the cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons dried buttermilk, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast into the pan.  I set the crust for medium and the bread cycle for basic.

This smelled great while it was baking.  I may not be able to eat spicy, but I can appreciate the smell.  Longhorn cheese is known to meld well with Tex-Mex flavors and the if the smell is any indicator, this is going to be a tasty loaf of bread.  I will have to let you know more after he gives me his taste test results.

Country Pancetta-Cheese Bread, page 378, August 2015

I really went off-recipe with this loaf, but I had some of the ingredients that are hard to find here at home, so I went ahead and used them.  The actual recipe called for a few different ingredients, and for the loaf to be shaped by hand and finished in the oven.  Here is what I did:

Before I started baking, I cooked 4 ounces of pancetta in a skillet until crisp.  After that finished cooking, I placed it on paper toweling to cool.

Ingredients were added to the bread machine as follows:  1 1/8 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 3/4 cups bread flour, 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 tablespoon gluten, a pinch of sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.  I used the French bread setting and the medium crust options.

When the machine beeped between kneads 1 and 2, I added the pancetta along with 4 ounces of fresh, whole milk mozzarella, cut into small cubes.

I believe I made a mistake choosing the French Bread setting for this loaf.  The extra rise cause the loaf to touch the top of the bread machine, and then crater.

It was a very tasty loaf, though.  We sliced some and served with with fruit and cheese we had picked up at the farmer’s market in Olympia.  Not the prettiest loaf I have made, but very tasty.

Buttermilk Cheese Bread, page 372, August, 2015

The recipe for this loaf recommends serving it alongside a thick beef and barley soup, fresh ham, or simply using it to make an outstanding sandwich.

Into the bread machine, went:  1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 1/2 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.

This loaf uses the medium and basic cycle settings on the machine.

Nearly every recipe in this cookbook recommends letting the completed loaf cool to room temperature before slicing.  As this was baking, though, it smelled so incredible that mom and I knew that we wouldn’t wait.

This loaf rose too high and touched the top of the bread machine, then it cratered.  Not badly, but it didn’t bake to that rounded top I would have preferred.  It is a lovely golden brown with noticeable flecks of cheese on the crust.  Soft, chewy and delicious, I am glad we didn’t wait.  There is something intoxicating about eating fresh, hot bread, dripping with butter.

Beer Bread with Cheddar, page 381, June 11, 2015

The title of this one just makes me hungry.  It is time for another loaf to have here at home and this is the recipe I have chosen.  I am not a big beer drinker, so I am just using a can of Rainier I found in the fridge.  I imagine you could try this recipe with different combinations of beers and cheeses, and find a combination that best fits your taste.  I am also using a sharp cheddar cheese, although the recipe suggests a mild cheddar or Colby.  The author described Colby as, “a cheese known for its firm texture.”  In case the texture was the reason she recommended it, I froze my cheddar shreds before putting the dough together.  The beer also needs to be flat prior to putting the dough together, so I opened the can and let it sit out on the counter for a few hours.

After my research earlier today into the possible reason behind my recent string of crater loaves, I am adding my ingredients into the pan like this:  1 cup (8 ounces) flat beer, 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3 1/2 cups bread flour and 1 3/4 teaspoons SAF yeast.

I made a small well in the center of the flour and put the yeast into the weIMG_4176ll.

Ms. Hensperger describes this bread as rich “like a pound cake.”  With the amount of sugar in the recipe, that does not surprise me.  The pungent, tangy smell of the beer is already filling the kitchen.  I have high hopes for this loaf. As the bread begins baking, the cheddar smell is now more predominant than that of the beer.

Now, THAT is what I am talking about.  A nice, high loaf with a smooth rounded top and a lovely golden brown color.  I have to wait for it to come to room temperature before slicing it. Tick IMG_4178Tock Tick Tock. . .

Oh yum, oh yum yum yum yum yum.  This bread is delicious.  It is indeed rich, the beer adds a wonderful aroma and there is just enough cheese to flavor the loaf, without being overwhelming.  I don’t taste the sugar, I have had beer breads before that are very sweet, this one is not. The bread itself is tender, and slices easilIMG_4179y. The golden brown crust is crunchy and flaky.