bread

About shokupan, or Japanese sliced bread

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Thick slices of nutritionally empty white bread for the win! continue reading...

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The guilt trip on the way to Japanese shokupan (it's just sliced bread...)

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The moral of the story is probably - don’t go shopping on Amazon at 2 in the morning. continue reading...

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Easter brunch bunny bao (steamed buns)

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[From the archives: Easter bunny bao! One of the most successful recipes on JustHungry, these little light savory steamed buns are perfect for Easter. Originally published in April 2007.]

For a planned Easter lunch, I wanted to do something in the brunch realm, but with an Easter theme. Brunch purists may insist on eggs and pancakes and croissants and champagne for brunch, but for me ‘brunch’ means an early lunch feast after little or no breakfast, and so dim sum is my favorite kind of brunch.

Putting Easter and dim sum together, I devised these bunny shaped bao, or steamed buns. (The inspiration for the shape came from a pair of fluffy white bunny slippers I saw at a flea market last summer.) They are quite simple really: tender steamed bun dough is filled and formed into an oval, and the ears are cut with scissors. The faces are optional - for a minimalist bunny, you could just leave them blank and unadorned. Or, you could go all-out and add whiskers with slivered green onion, or whatever strikes your fancy.

The bunny bao could be stuffed with any kind of steamed bun filling (see my roast pork filled steamed buns), but keeping with the brunch theme, I’ve filled these with an egg, bacon and chive mixture. It all makes sense - eggs, and ham, and bunnies, plus spring chives. So very Easter.

You could of course omit the bunny-shaping part if you want to avoid the cuteness. continue reading...

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Monday photo: Sack of bread, Aix-en-Provence

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A photo and a story, first in a series. continue reading...

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Another New York roundup: From Bagels to Madison Park

Russ & Daughters, Lower East Side, New York

I still consider myself to be a New Yorker (technically I am) and go back there at least once or more a year. So I don’t write about my trips there all the time. This time I did have more than a few notable food encounters, so here is a not-so-short roundup. continue reading...

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Happy Easter!

Easter bunny bread

A bit too late already for many people I know...but I just wanted to share this bunny bread from my favorite patisserie in Zürich. :)

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Wine, cheese and walnut whole wheat bread using the Almost No-Knead method

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Notes on the Almost No-Knead Bread method, plus a recipe for bread with wine in the dough. continue reading...

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Bread pudding made with leftover hot cross bunny buns

I am still not up to much cooking, but I did want to share this in case anyone ends up making the hot cross bunny buns, or just regular hot cross buns, for Easter, and have leftovers. I did the trial run for the bunny buns a couple of days before I went to the hospital. Eight (!) of them were consumed almost right away, but the rest ended up getting hard and forlorn since (cough) someone forgot to put them in the freezer fast enough.

Never fear though, they made great bread pudding. It was so good that even I was able to eat a little, in my current uncomfortable-swallowing and lack of appetite state.

Sorry for the lack of photos…it got devoured before I had a chance to shoot. I’ll put some in next time I have leftover hot cross bunnies. continue reading...

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Hot Cross Easter Bunny Buns

(This is the web elf. This is one of the articles Maki instructed to post while she’s on the disabled list.)

I love bunnies, and Easter is a great excuse to make something edible in a bunny shape. Last year, I made bunny bao. The year before that, I took a class in making chocolate bunnies. I’ve also made pastel colored Easter Bunny cupcakes, and given you a diagram for cutting usagi ringo (apple bunnies).

This year I have an urge for the traditional British Easter treat, hot cross buns. But, as bunnies.

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Hot Cross buns are soft and light, spicy fruity buns with a sugar glaze. They are called Hot Cross buns because they usually sport a cross on top. I prefer the bunny as my Easter motif.

These bunnies are made using the Hot Cross bun recipe on the BBC Food site, which yields a realy nice, light bun with a wonderful spicy fragrance. I did change two things: I added some orange zest in addition to lemon zest to the dough, and simply pressed some dried fruit into the dough as I’ll show below instead of mixing it into the dough. This was done in order to produce bunnies with fairly smooth faces. The drawback is that you don’t get fruit in every bite, but I think the cuteness more than makes up for that. continue reading...

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Homemade whole wheat pita bread, no oven needed

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Even with more than 900 (and counting) posts and almost 200 recipes posted on Just Hungry, there are still lots of things that I make all the time, but haven’t got around to writing about yet. A lot of those things take more time to write up than cook, almost. This whole wheat pita bread recipe is one of them. You do have to account for the obligatory rising time for the dough, but otherwise it’s dead easy, and your kitchen working time in total is maybe 20 minutes, 30 tops. For fresh baked bread!

The key is that the pitas are not baked in the oven. No need for preheating baking stones or quarry tiles or all that stuff. They are baked, so to speak, in a plain old frying pan. You can make them any size you want as long as it fits in the bottom of the frying pan. I like to make small, palm-sized ones for easy snacking or bringing along for lunch.

This recipe also only requires 3 cups of flour in total. I sometimes get a bit frustrated by bread recipes that call for like 6 cups of flour, since we are a small household watching our collective waistlines and there’s no way we can eat that much bread in a reasonable amount of time. Sure you can freeze the excess, but then you can quickly accumulate massive amounts of frozen bread if you bake often. So anyway, this makes 12 smallish pitas, which are gone quite quickly, especially with a resident Bread Fiend in house.

I referred to many other pita bread recipes, especially this excellent one on About.com, before arriving at this version. The cooking in the frying pan concept came from watching naan bread and Chinese flat breads puff when cooked on griddles. A griddle is not necessary though - and I think most people have at least one frying pan. continue reading...

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Salty bread and salty tears

monsegur-lostsign.jpgThe sign that is no more.

As we approached the tiny hilltop village of Montsegur-sur-Lauzon in northern Provence, my mouth was already watering in anticipation of the bread at the one and only boulangerie (bakery) there. I’d been looking forward to this for months, ever since last November, when we’d made one last stopover to load up on bread to sustain us for the long drive back home and a couple of days beyond.

I’ve written about my love for this boulangerie before. The bread there was the best I’ve ever had - bursting with flavor and character. Even when the loaves turned a bit stale after a couple of days, they were still so good. I was convinced that if the baker, Monsieur Metaud, was in Paris, he’d be world famous.

It was a Sunday, and there was a small queue of people waiting for their bread in the tiny store. Neither of the two people behind the counter, a young man and a middle aged woman, were Madame or Monsieur Metaud, but that didn’t concern us - they had other people selling bread there before, especially on weekends. But as we shuffled closer to the front of the line, something seemed a bit off. The collection of exotic teas that used to line the wall shelves were gone. The pretty display of confections was quite pared down. continue reading...

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Hausbrot 3

Hausbrot 3

Hausbrot 2

Hausbrot 2

Cute yet modern Swiss Easter bunny bread

Swiss people love cutely formed bread, just as much if not more than Japanese people. Behold, this masterpiece of adorable yet modern design, in the form of an Easter Bunny bread. (click on the image from the web page to see it larger).

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The almond slices scattered on top were a bit misleading. I was rather anticipating some kind of sugar-almondy filling, but it was just slightly sweetened white bread all the way through. Perhaps the cuteness is enough sugariness for one small bread.

For more Swiss Easter Bunny goodness, read about the chocolate Easter Bunny making class I took last year. continue reading...

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Swiss Easter Bunny Bread

Swiss Easter Bunny Bread
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Yakitate!! Japan

yakitatejapanbig.sidebar.jpgYakitate!! Japan is a popular manga series. So popular in fact that it’s one of the few manga that’s available (legitimately) in English. There was also an anime series, which so far is only (legally) available in Japan. It sort of belongs to a genre of manga called Gourmet (gurume) Manga, manga whose main theme is food-related. The Wikipedia Japan page for Gourmet Manga lists more than 100 titles in this genre, though as far as I know only Yakitate!! is available in English at the moment. (I’ll be talking about other gourmet manga eventually.)

The Yakitate part of the title means “freshly baked”. The Japan part is a pun of sorts: pan is the Japanese word for bread (the word was imported from Portuguese most likely), and the goal of the main character is to find the ultimate JaPan, or Japanese bread. The title sequence of the anime says that “There’s furansu pan (French bread), igirisu pan (English bread), doitsu pan (German bread) but no bread to represent Japan”. The story unfolds in the form of several big Iron Chef style baking competitions, where the main character Kazuma Azuma and others vie with each other for fame and glory. A running gag is that the bread creations are so delicious that they make the eaters, especially main judge Kuroyanagi, have extreme reactions like dying and going to heaven, or (from another judge) sprouting a live peacock out of his head. continue reading...

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Japanese Curry Bread (Kare-pan)

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There’s a whole category of breads in Japan called okazu pan. Okazu are the savory dishes that you eat with your bowl of rice at a typical meal, and okazu pan are little breads with savory fillings.

Since curry flavored anything is a hit in Japan, curry bread or kare- pan is one of the most popular okazu pan varieties. It’s a bun made of slightly sweet dough, filled with a spoonful of curry, breaded and deep fried. I am not sure how curry bread originated, but I am guessing it was inspired by Russian piroshki (piroshiki is also a popular okazu pan, though in the Japanese version it often contains very non-Russian fillings like harusame, thin bean noodles). Curry bread is sold at bakeries and convenience stores throughout Japan.

Making curry bread is a bit tricky since it’s deep-fried. It’s easy to make an oily, soggy lump if you fry it too long or at too low a temperature, but if you don’t fry it long enough the center part where the dough meets the filling may be raw. My solution for this is to fry it until it’s puffed and crisped, then to finish it in the oven. The other trick is to roll out the dough as thinly as you can manage without making it so thin that the curry is going to burst through.

You also have to be careful about the consistency of the curry filling. It’s most convenient to start out with some leftover curry, but it has to be reduced down to a very thick, paste-like consistency, otherwise it will run over the dough and make the dough hard to seal. If the dough is not sealed properly, the bun will burst in the oil, which ends up to be quite a mess (oil seeps in, filling seeps out).

All in all, I am not sure I would bother to make curry bread at all if I lived near a Japanese bakery, but I do on occasion get a craving for this very down to earth snack. Try it if you’re up for a bit of a challenge. This recipe is adapted from one in an out-of-print Japanese bread book. continue reading...

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Very easy Pao de Queijo, Brazilian cheese bread via Japan

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This may not be well known outside of the two respective countries, but there are pretty strong historical and cultural ties between Japan and Brazil. There was a wave of emigration from Japan to Brazil in the early part of the 20th century and later on around the ’50s and ’60s. And in the last 30 years, many Brazilians of Japanese descent (people of Japanese descent born in another country are called nikkei-jin) have in turn emigrated to Japan to fill labor shortages. Perhaps because of this, a few years ago one of the staples of the Brazilian diet, pao de queijo, little cheese breads, became very popular. While their popularity may have descended a bit from their peaks (Japan tends to be periodically swept up by big food or fashion trends, which after a time get dropped without warning when people move onto the next thing, but that’s another story), they are still made by bakers throughout Japan.

I think that pao de queijo appeals so much to the Japanese palate because they are small, round and cute, and have a distinctive gooey-sticky-glutinous kind of texture inside. This texture is called mochi mochi, after mochi, the very gooey-glutinous rice cakes. continue reading...

Pao de queijo, the very easy way

Pao de queijo, the very easy way

No Knead Desem Bread

desem_loaf1.sidebar.jpgI’ve adapted the No Knead Bread method for making this bread as described here, for a bread that originally requires at least 20 minutes of kneading. It turns out a quite light, crispy-crust, delicious loaf. continue reading...

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Adapting the No Knead method for desem bread

desem_sliced1.sidebar.jpgLike probably everyone, or at least every food blogger, in the world with an oven and a fondness for baking bread, I tried the No Knead Bread as written up in the New York Times in November. Authored by Mark Bittman via Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York, this almost perplexingly easy method of mixing up a bread dough that has that distinctive 'artisanal bread' crumb and thin, crackly crust caused a sensation in the teapot that is the world of food blogging.

As just about everyone says, it does produce a very good bread. And yet...for me it lacked that something extra special. This has a lot to do with the fact that in this country good bread is quite easy to get. Even the bread sold at the major supermarkets is not bad at all. The rather shiny, slightly gummy, open-grained texture of the No Knead Bread reminded me of pain paillase, a very popular twisted loaf bread that's widely sold in Swiss bakeries. The thing is though, pain paillase, being a sourdough bread and baked into a fat baguette shape, is tastier than the all-white flour No Knead Bread. So, I haven't baked any basic No Knead since the first couple of loaves. Besides. I'm trying to cut out white flour at the moment. continue reading...

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Sliced desem bread, showing the crumb

Sliced desem bread, showing the crumb
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A loaf of desem bread

A loaf of desem bread
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Cheesy-peppery savory cookies or scones or biscuits

Now that the weather is getting cooler, at least in these parts, there's nothing as appealing the smell of fresh baking filling the house. I don't think I have posted a simple baking recipe in a long time, so here's one that has become a favorite because it's so delicious and versatile. Here you see them in their cookie incarnation. (I used vegetable-shaped cookie cutters.)

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Up close, for scale:

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And here is the big scone incarnation:

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The recipe is based on one for English scones, but it's savory rather than sweet. Inspiration also came in part from Hungarian cheesy scones called pogasca, which I first had on a short trip to Budapest some years ago, and can't forget since. Depending on how big you make them, they can be fluffy-in-the-middle scones, or crispy yet soft little cookies, or biscuits for Brits. (Confusing the matter even further is of course that scones are very much like American biscuits.) In any case they are really easy to make, especially if you have a food processor.

These savory scones/biscuits/cookies are made with olive oil, which imparts the unique fruity-peppery taste of the oil, and also makes them theoretically a tiny bit healthier than using vegetable shortening or butter. You can use butter of course if you prefer that taste. (I hardly ever use vegetable shortening in my cooking, so I can't speak for it. I use lard sometimes, but that's another story.)

I have used three cheeses for this - Gruyère, feta and Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) (plus cottage cheese), but you can use any bits of leftover hard or semi-soft cheese as long as it all adds up to about 1 cup in total.

If you make the scones very small and bake them until they are quite crunchy on the outside, they make perfect nibbles for a wine tasting. Make them larger and they are great fluffy biscuits/scones to have with a hearty soup or stew. You can also turn the large versions into very rich small sandwiches with a little roast ham or something in the middle.

These freeze beautifully and can be heated up in the oven, wrapped in foil, at 300°F/150°C for about 5 minutes for the little ones, 10-15 minutes for the big ones. The little ones can also be kept in an airtight cookie tin for about a week, so they are great to make ahead for a party. continue reading...

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Fun With Brioche

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Brioche bread is so delicate, light and buttery that is just one tiny step removed from being a pastry. Plain brioche bread is delicious on its own, toasted or with loads of jam. But brioche dough also makes an ideal casing for all kinds of fillings both savory and sweet. It's my favorite dough for making anything en croute, as well as for sweet filled breads that are so nice for a brunch party. continue reading...

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IMBB 25: Good uses for Stale Bread: A Simple Bread Soup

Posted by Max

Breadsoup

In the small household I grew up, there was always an issue with bread. Either it was gone because it was fresh and very good, or it was not that fresh anymore, and stayed until stale. To clear up this stale bread, my mother made a simple soup out of it. This simple recipe fits very well in Is My Blog Burning, edition 25, hosted by Derrick Schneider's An Obsession with Food. continue reading...

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Masterchef challenge, day 14: Feta, olive and onion pizza

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The ingredients for the second day of the 4th round preliminaries were: continue reading...

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Rhubarb ginger muffins

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As if last month's IMBB muffin (and cupcake) orgy weren't enough, here is another muffin that has definitely entered my must-make list. It's yet another way to enjoy the tanginess of rhubarb, with the added twist of preserved or crystallized ginger. (I used my precious homemade crystallized ginger, but you can use the store-bought kind with no problems.) continue reading...

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Zucchini basil muffins

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Mushipan: steamed bread/cake

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For Japanese kids, oyatsu is a big part of the day. It means snack time, and is usually in mid-afternoon. It's sort of like afternoon tea or elevenses in England. My mother usually was working when we were growing up so she didn't have much time to make us homemade oyatsu, but when she did one of the things she'd make was mushipan. continue reading...

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Stuffed bread

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This is the other thing served at at our Oscar-watching party. Since the show went on from 2 am to about 6:30 we were quite silly, so the food had to be low-stress, no utensils, and tasty. Both this bread and the soup (in the previous entry) were a hit. continue reading...

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Jalapeño and cheese cornbread

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Although I do love baking as a hobby, the fact is that it's possible to get great bread from the local bakery or even the supermarket here in Switzerland. So, most of the day to day baking I do is of quick-bread type of things. continue reading...

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Homemade pizza

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Basics: pizza dough

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I have to admit, that a lot of the baking I do is quite time consuming - such as the desem bread. For me, baking bread is sort of a hobby, not something I just do for the sake of making bread, but it's not practical to bake things that require long kneading and hours of rising time frequently. But not all bread doughs like that. This dough, which can be used for pizza, foccaciaa, calzone, and the like, is very simple to make, especially if you have a food processor.

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Bagels and baguettes have to be eaten fast

There is a great article in the New York Times about bagels, the quintissential New York bread. It made me feel quite nostalgic. continue reading...

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Desem, the final chapter

This is the final chapter of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.

My desem is now about three weeks old, and is quite mature. How do I know it's mature? Because, after it's been fed some fresh flour and water, it turns quite spongy within a few hours. It also dissolves completely in water, leaving no strings of gluten in my hand. continue reading...

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Desem, Second Baking

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project. continue reading...

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The Care and Feeding of Desem, Week 2

So, once you have a desem, how do you take care of it?

For the second week (that is the week after it's been born, then grown in the in the incubator flour bed), it has to be fed every day. The thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't feed it more flour than is already in it. continue reading...

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Desem, Day 8-9: The First Loaf

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.

I am writing this somewhat bleary-eyed after a late night...

The process of making the first loaf of desem bread is very long, and it's easy to miscalculate the time needed. That's what I did. Here's how it went... continue reading...

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Desem, Day 7

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project. continue reading...

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Desem, Day 6

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.

The desem has spent its final day covered with flour in the incubator-pot. Today I take it out to start it on its way to being a "mother", for many delicious desem breads to come. continue reading...

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Desem, Day 5

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.

The desem isn't as active today, but it's certainly moving and growing. This is how the incubator-pot looks when I opened it up: continue reading...

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Desem, Day 4

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.

Yesterday I was a bit worried because the desem hadn't grown or changed at all. So I made two adjustments: I increased the amount of water in the dough a bit to make it softer, and I switched the location of the incubator/pot to a warmer location. continue reading...

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Desem, Day 3

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.

The desem has been incubating for 2 days since it was born. I take the pot up from the washing machine room and open the lid. continue reading...

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Desem, Day 1

This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.

Time to start the desem now. The ingredients for today: continue reading...

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Desem, Day 0

I've decided to start a desem again.

What the heck is desem? Well, it is supposed to be a Belgian whole wheat bread, though my only Belgian friend d__ doesn't know about it. In any case, it appears in the best whole-grain bread baking book I've ever read, The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book : A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking. My Amazon review is quoted here: continue reading...

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Baking bread (or thinking about it)

I love to bake bread.

It's a very relaxing thing to do. It's messy enough to remind you of when you were little and played with mudpies and Play-Doh. It's a mindless thing, or at least the kneading part is. It can even help to get out some frustration, by banging the dough about (a good way of developing the gluten). continue reading...

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