Light Wheat Bread: Simple Does It


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The last time I baked a bread, what emerged from the oven was a loaf of casatiello, a gorgeous hunk of Italian bread studded with salami and oozing with hot cheese.

So you might understand why I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this week’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge loaf: Light wheat bread.

After the sexy Italian, wheat bread seemed like the yawner of a boy next door.

(You know — the ugly one.)

But after having spent several weeks in Singapore without an oven at my disposal, I was itching to bake something. Anything.

And, as it turned out, this plain boy next door actually had his surprises.

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Cinnamon Raisin Bread: Devil in a Loaf Pan


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It was only as I was licking cinnamon sugar off a plate after rapidly devouring three slices of bread that I managed to put a finger on the word I was looking for to describe the cinnamon raisin walnut loaf I had just made.

Trouble.

And this is coming from someone who has generally preferred savory or plain loaves to sweet cinnamon-raisin breads.

Peter Reinhart’s recipe for cinnamon-raisin bread? It’s trouble.

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Challah: A Lesson Learned


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I was never any good at girlish things as a child.

Not jump rope nor dressing up Barbie. (Or myself, for that matter.) And certainly not the braiding of any hair.

So it would be accurate to say that the notion that someday I'd attempt to make challah, the braided bread traditionally eaten on the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays — no, that never once crossed my mind.

In fact, when I learned last week that challah was on the schedule for the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge, I instantly planned to sit this one out.

Me? Braiding? Gummy ropes of dough? I was set to say "No thank you" to failure and disappointment and skip ahead to ciabatta, the next bread on the list. But no, my friends wouldn't allow it. "It's easier than ciabatta," said Heather. "Think of the French toast that you can make after," Geri said.

Since "French toast" is high on the list of magic words in my husband's vocabulary, out came the mixing bowls and the challah-making commenced.

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Prelude to Paris

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I’ve been thinking about Paris.

About bumping knees with Mike at the petite tables of the always-packed Bistrot Paul Bert. And wandering the streets in search of good bread. Or shoes. Or both.

So when it was announced that Recipe #4 of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge was brioche, I took it as a sign.

Sure, it seemed silly to be attempting to make brioche for the first time when in a matter of days, I’d be in the land of great brioche. But I wanted to understand it. Just last week, I’d made bagels for the first time, a Herculean task that helped me develop a mammoth respect for a bread I’d often overlooked at breakfast.

So, with one pound of butter and a carton of eggs in hand, I steeled my arteries and was ready to go.

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A Glimpse of Things to Come


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There have been some significant firsts of late.

The saucy ones, I won’t go into. But in the kitchen, my oven and I have been busy taking our relationship to another level.

First, there were the first home-made bagels, golden, sweet and soft. And soon, there will be my first petites brioches a tete, attempted for Week #4 of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge.

The waiting, the growing excitement, it’s all been hard on this read-the-last-page-of-a-book-first type of gal with no patience for surprises.

So, here’s an early peek at said brioche, looking rather perfect — if I do say so myself — for just a moment.

If it all goes downhill from here … well, hey, we’ll always have this blog post.


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