Pressure-cooker wheat berries

When Mr. Bread Maiden and I lived in Austin, we got to a point in our first year when we made the switch from mostly grocery-store bought meals, to mostly farmer’s market-bought meals.

It wasn’t easy.  Well, in a way it was.

We had an amazing garden for all our herbs and vegetables, and we would buy our meat and dairy at the farmer’s market.

Austin was also where I began my bread journey on the way to becoming Bread Maiden!

I miss this place

 The Austin Farmer’s Market was unique in that it had weird things like, say, wheat berries for sale. 

Wheat berries, according toWikipedia, are “the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), comprising the bran, germ, and endosperm.”

 I tried using wheat berries for baking by grinding them up, but they didn’t have enough gluten to rise a loaf of bread.  So there’s been a bag of them in my pantry from Austin, to Warwick Village, and now to Del Ray.

Don’t tell Slow Learner, but Mr. Bread Maiden and I are making her a ton of granola bars for her birthday.  Post to come!

But anyway, we were rooting around the pantry for grains to use in the granola, and we came across the wheat berries.

Mr. Bread Maiden suggested we cook them as a grain for dinner, which is exactly what we did.

We turned to this book: Passionate Vegetarian, by (no joke) Crescent Dragonwagon.

The book is really excellent and a nearly comprehensive review of vegetarian cuisine, whether bean, grain, seed, or rhizome.

Basically, by following her recipe we didn’t follow her recipe at all.

First, I rinsed the wheat berries and picked out all the hulls.  It’s easy to do; cover the berries with water and swish it around with your hand; the hulls rise to the top and you can pick them out.

I threw about two cups of wheat berries into my pressure cooker, then poured in about 8 cups of water and chicken stock.

Put the pressure cooker on medium-high heat until you reach pressure, then turn it down to medium and cook for about 35 minutes.

Apropos of nothing, my pressure cooker is a “presto.”  I like it.

Once the wheat berries are done, remove the pressure cooker from the heat and wait for the pressure valve to release.

Wheat berries, once cooked, have a nice, chewy texture.

Rinse the berries and chop up an herb (we used parsley).

Throw the parsley and salt into the wheat berries, and you have a dish rich in dietary fiber, iron, vitamin C and whole grain.

We ate ours with sauerkraut and pork chops.  Very tasty and incredibly easy!

Beef Liver Paté

I know, I know.

This is not a post about bread.


It is a post about what to put ON bread.

The Bread Maiden family has a ton of beef liver in the freezer, just looking to be made into paté.

When I found this recipe on Casa Veneración, I knew I just had to try it.

I made some modifications.  You will need:


This picture includes two things you will not need in the recipe.  Sorry.
  • 1 lb beef liver, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • One stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 c. of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. of dried tarragon
  • 3/4 c. of cream


1. Unwrap beef liver.


2. Place the liver in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer GENTLY until one side of each piece of liver is a light tan.  You need to pay attention during this step.  
3. Remove each piece as it reaches this color and place in a bowl.  Do not overcook. Don’t worry about not cooking them; they’ll get about 20 minutes in the oven later on.
4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
5. Start boiling a kettle of water.
6. Melt half of the butter in a small frying pan. Saute the onion, shallot, and celery until translucent. Turn off the heat and add the rest of the butter. Let cool.
7. Throw the sauteed mixture and the liver in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
I pureed the liver first.
Then added the vegetables.
8. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir. 
9.  Spoon into ramekins.
10. Prepare the water bath. Place the ramekins in a baking dish. Pour boiling water into the baking dish, taking care not to spill any on the liver mixture, until the depth is about three-quarters of the height of the ramekins.
10. Bake at 375F for 25 to 30 minutes.
11. Cool the liver paté on a cooling rack. Touch the top of each paté gently to make sure it has set up properly.  Once they are cool, cover the ramekins with cling wrap and store in the refrigerator.
12. Use the liver paté as a spread or for liver-based sauces. When they come out of the oven they are sort-of an unappetizing gray-brown, but once you spoon into the paté, it’s a beautiful pink color.
I should mention at this point that I dislike the taste of liver.  Really don’t like it.  But Mr. Bread Maiden and Little Bread Baby like it, so I make it.  And this really wasn’t too bad.  This piece of bread with paté on it, in the photo below? I ate that once I snapped the picture.  Topped with lots of cheese to mask the flavor of the liver, of course.

The original recipe calls for chicken livers instead of beef liver, so that would work equally well here.  I think if a liver recipe is good enough that even *I* will eat it, then it’s a winner!

Jamaican Black Cake

 The past few years, Slow Learner (actually Mr. Bread Maiden’s mother) and I have been celebrating Christmas by baking a batch of fruitcake.

Fruitcake, if you don’t know, is that much-maligned dessert bread chock full of fruit, nuts, spices, and a whole lotta alcohol.  When you think (or, before meeting Mr. Bread Maiden’s kin, what I THOUGHT) of fruitcake looked something like this:

I don’t even know what those green and red things are.

But all that changed.  Well, not the part about the green and red things.  I don’t know if I want to know what those are.

The story goes, Slow Learner got the recipe from (you guessed it) Alton Brown.

Starting a few months ahead, she bakes the loaves and then once a week gives each loaf a spritz of brandy, which as an added bonus helps preserve it.  By the time Christmas rolls around, those things are good and smothered in the stuff. She serves it with whipped cream and more spritzes of brandy.

If you want to make the world’s best fruitcake, Alton’s recipe is here.

This year I’ll be leaving the fruitcake-making to the expert.

Instead of making fruitcake this year, I decided to try my hand at a different type of fruit-alcohol-spices-bread combination.

I found a recipe for Jamaican Black Cake, which as one person online so eloquently phrased it, “is what fruitcake wants to be when it grows up.”

I got the above picture from a google images search and then was sucked into this website.  It shows why this cake bears more than a passing resemblance to British Christmas puddings.

Not too sweet, made with spiced rum instead of brandy, and mixed with some heaping spoonfuls of molasses, the recipe made my little Latin Americanist heart sing.

The recipe began here, but I made quite a few alterations along the way.

The cake also goes by Trinidadian or West Indies Black Cake.

You will need:


3 cups dried fruit
3/4 cup spiced rum
zest from one lemon

A few days before you want to bake the cake, put about zest and dried fruit in a large plastic zip-top bag with spiced rum.  Suck all the air out of the bag before closing.  Let sit in the fridge for a few days.


1/2 lb butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
2 tbsps dark molasses (the original recipe calls for browning, but I didn’t have any)
1 tsp vanilla
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
dash of rum 
1/4 cup slivered almonds 

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and position a tray in the middle of your oven.  Butter two loaf pans. 

2. In one large bowl, whip the butter, sugar, vanilla and molasses. Set aside.

3. In a second medium bowl, whip the eggs with a dash of rum.  Set aside.

4. In a third medium bowl, mix together the dried ingredients.  Set aside.

5. Add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar mixture.

6. Add your rum-soaked fruit and nuts to the wet mixture.

7. A little bit at a time, add the flour to the batter and fold it with a spatula to lightly combine.

8. Divide your dough into the two loaf pans, and bake for 90 minutes or until the top is firm.

In order to make sure both loaves would bake equally, I used a kitchen scale to divide them by weight.

9. Let the loaves cool about 30 minutes in the pan, then take them out and let them rest on a cooling rack.  Since it was already 10:30pm and I was tired, I let them rest overnight.

My first thought was, “those aren’t as dark as I was hoping.”  I think if I had used dark rum, the “browning,” brown sugar, or blackstrap molasses, they would’ve been darker.


10. After they are cool, pour a good jigger of rum over the top of each cake and store in a plastic zip-top bag.  The alcohol acts as a preservative, so pour on!  The cake really absorbs a lot of liquid, so don’t be stingy.

Even though they aren’t as dark as they’re supposed to be, when we took a bite this morning the cake was very tasty.  Success!  If I don’t post before then, Bread Maiden and family wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Finger paint

Maybe I should post a disclaimer right here: this is not a post about bread. Those who are looking for a bread recipe should just wait a few more days.  Bread Maiden has a post about biscuits that just needs a few more pictures before it can be published.  Sit tight.

For now, I want to talk finger paint.

When Little Bread Baby gets bored at mealtime, he loves smearing his food around his tray. 

So I was inspired to let him release his creative impulses in a constructive way, and maybe get some art for papa’s office.

There was just one little problem.

How can I keep finger paint out of LBB’s mouth?

I can’t.  And many (most?) homemade finger paint recipes I found online included some sort of detergent or dish soap to give it the right texture and shine.  Even though dish soap is non-toxic, I didn’t really know how much LBB would be eating, rubbing in his eyes, etc.

I ended up finding one edible finger paint recipe.

It was here.

The recipe only requires flour, water, and salt.  And food coloring.

I found some all-natural food coloring at MOM’s.

Here’s what you do.

As you can see above, you need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Saucepan
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Wire whisk
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • Food coloring

  1. Put flour and salt in the saucepan.
  2. Add cold water and beat with whisk until you get out all the lumps.
  3. Add hot water, turn the burner to low, and stir until it comes to a boil and the mixture is thick. 

4. Let the mixture cool.
5. At this point, you can either leave the mixture uncolored until you want to use it, or color as desired with food coloring.
6. Store covered in refrigerator.

 Here is my chilled finger paint.  After resting for 24 hours, it was pretty thick.  I spooned out about a tablespoon of goo into each bowl, then added about a tablespoon of water and mixed it up until it was the right consistency.

Then I added the food coloring.

The green was a little odd, but fine.  Next time I will probably add more food coloring so the paint is more vibrant.

Here is the work station before picture.

More interested in the newspaper than painting.

Ah well.

I mentioned adding more food coloring to the paint next time, because the colors were very muted.  Still, a good first effort. Once he decided he was interested in the painting, it held his attention for a good five minutes.  I consider that a success!

This recipe also makes a TON of paint, so we will have enough paint for many more art projects!

Graham Crackers

I have been meaning to write this entry for a while.  Finding the time to sit down and write is difficult when you have to wait for naptime.

This entry actually has to do with Little Bread Baby (LBB).  Also Little Bread Niece (LBN).  Here is a story about Little Bread Niece.

This is a picture of Little Bread Niece about a year ago.  She has a soy sensitivity which means her mother needs to be extra vigilant about ingredients in her food.  This usually means most of what she eats is homemade.  Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.

LBB so far does not have any food allergies or sensitivities, but I think it’s safe to say our family is more aware than most people about what goes into our food.  I decided to make graham crackers for Little Bread Baby after reading the labels of so-called natural and organic baby snacks.

These graham crackers are incredibly easy, and have no weird preservatives in  them.  I keep them in a plastic bag that I can throw in my purse or the diaper bag before heading out to the park.

Another bonus is that the recipe comes from Alton Brown, one of our favorite celebrity chefs (the only one we can really tolerate) on Food Network.

It has been slightly modified, but the original recipe is here.

The recipe is basically like a pie dough.

For those of you who think “pie dough is so hard to make,” fear not.

The food processor is your friend.

You will need:

The tools
A kitchen scale
Baking sheets
Parchment paper
Wax paper
Rolling pin
Food processor

The butter

3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled

The dry ingredients

8 3/8 ounces graham flour.  You can find graham flour at Whole Foods or other specialty store.
1 7/8 ounces all-purpose flour
3 ounces dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The wet ingredients
1 1/8 ounces molasses
1 1/8 ounces honey
1 1/2 ounces whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. 


Before I go on, I would just like to point out that for the first time, I MADE MY OWN brown sugar.  Crazy, I know. 
Ok, moving on.

2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

3. Add the molasses, honey, milk and vanilla extract.

4. Process until the dough forms a ball, approximately 1 minute.

At first, the dough looks like this:

Then this:

Then this.

5. Press the ball into a 1/2-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Unwrap the chilled dough and place it onto a large piece of wax paper and top with a second sheet of wax paper.

7. Roll the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick.

8. Remove the top sheet of wax paper and either cut the dough into squares using a rolling pizza cutter or do what I did, making little circles with a small biscuit cutter.  Your choice.  Put the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do NOT use wax paper for baking or your cookies will turn out all waxy and gross.

This is what you get when you ask your husband to take an action shot of you cutting out the cookies.

8.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven.  Depending on how thin your cookies are, bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. Remove from the oven, set the sheet pan with the crackers on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once completely cool, break into individual crackers and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 Aren’t those lovely?  And LBB loves them.  We can take them anywhere for an easy snack that everyone likes.  And even though it does take some time to roll out and bake, the food processor makes quick work of the dough.

Torta di Riso Salata

 It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention.  I think it’s true.  Although many of our inventions make me wonder if I really *NEEDED* them in my life.

For example, we went through a period cooking-wise when the finishing touch to a dish always involved wrapping it somehow in bacon.  Delicious, but we certainly did not NEED the extra bacon-y goodness.

However, this is a different story.

I need to find a way to get Little Bread Baby (soon to be Little Bread Toddler) to eat a whole ton of rice.  Mr. Bread Maiden decided that LBB was not getting enough carbs in his diet, so he made a big vat of brown rice and then left town for four days.

 LBB was not impressed with the rice.  What to do?

Go to the internets.

I had a shady recollection of having once in my life eaten something like a “rice pie.” 

With Mr. Bread Maiden out of town, I didn’t have a ton of ingredients or motivation to acquire ingredients.  I had a bunch of eggs and a bunch of rice.

Ok, that’s getting there.  I don’t have the bread crumbs or ricotta though.  But now I have a name for what I’m looking for.  Torta di Riso.

Unfortunately, using Torta di Riso as my search term means everything comes up looking like this:

 I guess that’s ok.  My knowledge of other romance languages can help me figure out most of it.

However, now I’ve come to another problem.  All of these Tortas di riso are sweet.

 This is a perfectly lovely torta di riso with raisins, but not really what I’m looking for.

Not to worry.  Since I want something savory, I added “salata” at the end and tried again.

Boom.  Here we go.

This is easy enough to figure out.  Formaggio looks like “fromage,” I know the word “latte,” and “uova” sounds just like “huevo.” 

The recipe itself is where things get tricky. My Italian is simply not good enough to parse this one out.

So I employed the help of Google Translate.

“The cake should not be too colorful.”  Ha.
Using this translation as a guide, here is the final recipe I used.  This recipe calls for a pie crust but I didn’t use one.
7 eggs
500 gr. cooked rice
200 gr. Grated cheese (I used mild cheddar)
100 gr. Melted butter
500 ml. milk (I messed up and added 500 grams of milk, but it turned out fine)

11. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

P2. Put rice in a mixing bowl.

33. Beat the whole eggs, then add them along with the grated cheese, melted butter, pepper and salt to the rice.
44. Add the cold milk to the rice mixture, then pour into a greased pie pan.  
At this point I was a little nervous that it was going to be too runny and not set properly.
5.5. Place the pan in the oven, then turn the temperature down to 375 after 15 minutes.  Continue baking for another 45 minutes or until brown and crunchy on top.  Serve warm.

I didn’t have anything to worry about.  The rice pie ended up delicious.

Once it cooled, it became very easy to slice.

Most importantly, LBB LOVED it.

Look at all that rice I used.  The recipe called for ALL of the rice (I’m guessing I had about 4-5 cups of cooked rice) to make two pies.

I think next time, if I want to make the recipe for grown-ups, I will add more seasoning or vegetables.  It’s a little bland.

So, in conclusion, creative use of the internets can result in a nutritious meal with a few staple ingredients.  I don’t think I would make this if I didn’t already have a TON of cooked rice lying around, but since I did, it was easy to whip up.

Before I go, I’ve been asked to provide links to screenshots I publish here.

Mario Batali’s recipe for torta di riso is here:

Here is the recipe for torta di riso with raisins:

And here is the recipe I ended up using (minus the crust):

Puff Pastry II

Now that we’ve made our puff pastry (if you haven’t, check out my recipe here).

We have lots of options.

This is a lot of puff pastry.

Since we have a ton of beef in the freezer that we need to get rid of, we decided to make Beef Wellington.

Our recipe is from one of our favorite cookbooks, MEAT by James Peterson. This is one of those recipes that you might want a partner to help you with, just so you can get dinner on the table before 10pm. Most of the parts can be done simultaneously, like making the duxelles, rolling the dough, and seasoning the meat.

What you need:
A defrosted puff pastry, about the pliability of pie dough.
1.5 lbs of cremini mushrooms
About 5 tablespoons of butter
A shallot or two
A beef tenderloin
One egg (for an egg wash)
Flour (for dusting)

1. Take the beef tenderloin and rub in some salt and pepper. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Put the mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until they are all minced up. Or mince them with a knife. Your choice.
3. Heat up a frying pan to medium heat. Melt about two tablespoons in the pan, then add a handful of the mushroom mash. Keep stirring it around. The mushrooms will absorb the butter, then start to release it. When they start releasing liquid, add another handful of mushroom mash and some butter. Repeat until all the mushrooms are cooked.
4. Once they are cooked, put them into a bowl and put in the refrigerator to cool down.

5. Either dust your countertop liberally with flour, or lay down some wax paper and dust THAT with flour. Take your puff pastry, lay it on the counter or wax paper, and dust the top with flour. If you are using wax paper, now lay another sheet on top of the dough.
6. Start to slowly roll out the dough with a rolling pin. The wax paper is nice for this, but you do have to keep adding flour to keep it from sticking.
7. You want it REALLY thin. Like, 1/4 inch thick.

8. Take your cooled duxelle mixture and spread it onto the dough.

As you can see, the dough rolled out is about the size of two cookie sheets.

Spread out the duxelles using a spatula.

9. Now take your seasoned tenderloin and lay it on the edge of the duxelle mixture.

10. Carefully fold the dough over the tenderloin.

11. Cut off the overlapping sides of the dough to make a nice little package.

Don’t worry, little scraps of puff pastry. I have something special planned for you.

12. Mix up the egg wash and spread it over the dough. Slash the dough and put in the oven.

13. When you take the pan out of the oven in about 40 minutes (internal temp. between 120-125), it should look something like this:

Mr. Bread Maiden was upset it was a little more done than he would’ve liked, but it was truly delicious.

While you are letting your Beef Wellington rest, let’s get back to those dough scraps. You haven’t just thrown them away, have you?

Because here is what you do with the scraps.

Wait for it.

Mini croissants.

Roll out the scraps and form into small triangles. Roll up the triangles and carefully place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Pop the sheet into the refrigerator to rest the dough a little bit. For this part you can crowd the croissants a little bit, but make sure to spread them into two or three baking sheets before baking them to giving them room to rise in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425. Slide in the croissants, then bump the temperature down to 375. Bake until brown and flaky, about 15-20 minutes.

Here are the croissants. I forgot to take pictures of them when they came out of the oven, but here they are a few days later and still looking fabulous.

These are best warm from the oven with jam. You want some sort of sweetener, since puff pastry dough doesn’t have much sugar or salt in it.

I don’t know the next time I’ll make puff pastry. It isn’t difficult but it does take some time. That said, homemade trumps ANYTHING you can buy in the store. But you knew that already 😉

Puff Pastry

I don’t watch a ton of Food Network anymore. It’s not that the shows aren’t entertaining; they are.

But I feel like I’ve outgrown it.

Back when Mr. Bread Maiden and I were dating, I didn’t know how to cook. And I certainly didn’t bake.

He introduced me to Alton Brown, nerdy food-scientist. And from there, a food journey began.

But I’m so bored by the offerings now, and often disappointed at the results. Not to brag, but Mr. Bread Maiden and I often cook and bake food that looks better than what these celebrity chefs make. And I’m left wishing that they would, just a little, EXPAND my kitchen knowledge.

Like they did before.

There are still tons of things I’ve never made before.

Like, most world cuisine. I dunno, casseroles. Profiteroles. Sole. Mole. Lots of things!

One of those things is puff pastry.

Food network appears to not want to touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole.

This is my search for puff pastry on food network.

Hey, Ina Garten has a recipe for puff pastry; that looks promising.

But the recipe calls for frozen puff pastry.

A recipe for real, homemade puff pastry isn’t until page 2.

Friends, this is a shame.

Because, as Mr. Bread Maiden and I learned on Sunday, homemade puff pastry is DAMN TASTY.

I used this recipe, from White on Rice Couple.

You will need:

Butter Block Ingredients
1 lb + 3 1/2 T (510g) cold unsalted Butter
2 t (10ml) Lemon Juice
pinch of Salt
1 c (130g) Bread Flour

Dough Ingredients
3 c (400g) Bread Flour, approximately
3 1/2 T (55g) soft unsalted Butter
2 t Salt
1 c (240ml) cold Water

Make Butter Block

1. In mixer w/ paddle attachment, work butter lemon juice, salt, and flour into a smooth paste.

2. On a sheet of wax paper, roughly form an approx. 6″ square with the butter block mixture. Lay another piece of wax paper on top and smooth out the square & straighten the sides. Peel back each wax paper sheet & re-lay as it wrinkles to keep a smooth, even surface. After block’s thickness & sides are even, refrigerate until firm.

Make the dough

1. Sift flour onto your work surface. Cut the butter into the flour until it looks like course crumbs.

2. Now it’s kind of like making fresh pasta. Shape into a mound, then make a well in the center of the mound. Add the salt & cold water into the well, then with a fork, use a whisking motion to gradually incorporate the well’s sides into the water.

When it starts to form a solid mass, finish incorporating the flour by kneading. Incorporate just until it is still sticky and has a rough texture. Adjust the water & flour as needed. Try to knead as little as possible. Puff pastry likes a lazy kneader.

3. Form dough into a ball, remember-knead as little as possible.

Flatten the ball a bit, then cut a cross halfway through the dough. Wrap it up in plastic wrap & let rest in fridge for 30 minutes.

You’ll want the Butter Block to have approximately the same consistency as the Dough, after the dough is rested.

You don’t want the butter rock hard, but not mushy soft, either. A dough that is softer than the butter will stretch while the butter doesn’t. If the butter is softer than the dough, it will be pushed out the sides. Either suck to some degree. You may have to adjust chill/resting times for either dough or butter block so they are about the same. Kitchen temp., how long it took to make the dough, fridge temp., all affect the consistency of the Butter Block & Dough. Figure out adjustments to make so they’ll work together homogeneously. It may take a time or two, but you’ll get the hang of it.


1. Pull the corners of the cuts out of the dough ball to make a square shape. Roll the dough out to a square slightly thicker in the center than on the sides, and slightly larger than the butter block.

2. Place the butter block diagonally on the dough square, so that the butter corners are pointed at the middle of the dough sides. Fold the uncovered dough corners over the butter block to completely envelop the butter. Pinch the seams tightly together to seal in the butter.

3. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick. Remember to keep dusting with flour whenever needed to keep the dough from sticking & tearing the layers.

4. Size up your rectangle visually into 3. Fold one third over the middle, then fold the opposite third over. Just like a tri-fold brochure. Try to have everything as even as possible. All the edges should match fairly closely. Put on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

5. Roll out to 1/2″ thick and repeat the fold. Don’t forget to flour as you roll. Plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total five roll & folds.

6. After the last fold, roll the rectangle out to about 3/4″. If it is difficult, put dough in the fridge for a bit to relax the gluten. If using immediately, cover, rest in fridge for about 30 minutes, then use as needed. If it’s for later, cut into sections big enough but that still fit easily in your freezer (usually just in half), layer with wax paper between sections, freezer bag it, & store until needed.

7. If you’re going to bake it now, roll out the dough pretty flat and cut into triangles.

8. Roll up the triangles and smear with egg wash.

9. Throw them in an oven preheated to 425, for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Lordy lord.

These are amazing. SOOO tender and flaky. They almost fall apart they are so flaky. Butter oozes out of these and they were incredible warm from the oven. Mr. Bread Maiden, who initially wanted to use the puff pastry for a Beef Wellington, immediately changed his mind in favor of more croissants. While it was definitely time-consuming, I think I would make puff pastry again. Maybe next time I will double the recipe so I can freeze one and use one. I can already see uses for this dough: pies, croissants (of course), strudels, pot pies. Stay tuned.

Foe no more: Rye Bread, Part III

Some of my older readers know that rye and Bread Maiden have something of a fraught relationship. It has been documented here: Rye Part I and here: Rye Part II

I was ready to give up hope. The loaves didn’t rise and the spices gave it a funky flavor.

Also, they just looked really unappealing.

However, I decided to give it one last try. Peter Reinhart has a recipe for rye bread in his newest book, Artisan Breads Every Day.

Now, this is not 100% or even 50% rye flour. It’s about 20% rye flour. But it tastes good. And sometimes that trumps purity snobbery.

The thing I like about Reinhart’s ABED book is that he seems to have learned a lesson from WGB and now his recipes make enough for two loaves. However, one thing I dislike is that he has taken the water/flour ratios out of the book so you can’t scale up or down the recipes yourself based on hydration.

And as you know, I love bread math.

Peter Reinhart’s Soft Rye Sandwich Bread

Rye Starter
56.5g starter (Reinhart keeps his at 66%, but I used my 75% starter)
213g rye flour
170g water

all of the rye starter
383g water
28.5g molasses
56.5g vegetable oil
7g instant yeast
680g bread flour
28.5g cocoa powder
17g salt
1/4c minced fresh onion
2 tbl poppy seeds

1. mix rye starter together and let sit for 6-8 hours covered.

While you’re waiting for the starter to activate, you can take a look at Mr. Bread Maiden’s new project, homemade sauerkraut, currently stinking up our kitchen.

2. mix together the molasses, veg oil, yeast, and water.

3. chop up the pieces of rye starter.

4. Let the yeast mixture sit for a few minutes, then pour over the rye starter pieces. Mix on lowest speed to soften the starter.

5. Add the flour, cocoa powder, poppy seeds, salt, and onions. Switch to the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for about 4 minutes.

6. The dough will want to ride up on the dough hook, so keep pushing it down. When it looks about like this, let it rest for five minutes.

7. After five minutes, mix on medium-low speed to make a smooth, tacky ball of dough.

8. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead for a bit on a floured surface.

When it starts looking good, put it in a well-oiled bowl to rise for another 90 minutes.

Looking good!

9. Prepare at least one piece of parchment paper with rice flour. Partition out two equal sized loaves.

10. Form one into a ball and place on the parchment paper.

11. Sprinkle some of the rice flour on the top of the loaf to prevent sticking. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let sit another hour or so.

12. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you’re using a dutch oven, put the cold dutch oven into the oven to warm it up.

13. Score your loaf and put it in the warm dutch oven in the oven for 25 minutes with the lid on, then 25 minutes with the lid off.


Verdict? Really really tasty. You can definitely taste the rye, even though there isn’t much rye flour in it. The poppy seeds and onions help add flavor too.

The onion pieces made funny little air pockets, which helped it not be so heavy like other rye attempts.

One downside is that this really isn’t a breakfast loaf, which is when Mr. Bread Maiden and I usually eat bread, usually slathered with butter, jam, or peanut butter. This bread likes to be eaten without accompaniment. It goes well with soups though.

All in all, I would definitely call this a success! The mission for 100% and 50% rye flour breads just never resulted in very satisfying loaves for me. Maybe I did them wrong, or didn’t like the taste, but this Reinhart Soft Rye Sandwich bread is very tasty and sometimes that is enough for me.

Go make these! Now!

Stollen, part II

Last week I promised to post instructions about stollen. Since I am all about keeping promises (except for volkornbrot, which seems to be lost to the winds of time), here it is. I wanted to keep experimenting because there were some things I thought could be improved, but as it is I like this recipe a lot.

That said, there are some things that could be improved. For example, the ingredients are originally measured in volume, not weight, which wastes an awful lot of dishes and measuring tools. Second, it needs more flour than called for. I also like shaping it differently once the almonds are added. Finally, I don’t decorate this baby with anything but the rice flour it was baked in!

Let’s get started.

Here is what you need:

(From left to right: lemon, cinnamon, flour, lard/butter, yeast, milk, sugar, egg, dried fruit, almonds, brandy)

For the sponge:
1/2 cup milk (I measured 112g)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4-5 teaspoons commercial yeast

2 cups dried fruit. I used candied orange and lemon, dried apricots, and cherries.
1/2 cup Grand Marnier, brandy, rum, or schnapps. I used brandy
Zest from one lemon or about 1 tbl orange zest. Last time I used grapefruit zest and this time I used lemon zest.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I measured 290g but seriously this is not enough)
1 tbl sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
4 tbl butter (I ran out of butter so I used 1/2 butter and 1/2 lard)
1/4 to 1/2 cups water
almond slivers, about 1/2 cup

A few bowls, plastic wrap, microplane grater, parchment paper, a thermometer, rice flour

You don’t really need a thermometer but I’m starting to like using it. You need it twice in this recipe.

1. Before you do anything else, set out the egg and the butter/lard to soften.
mmm lard and butter…

2. Now, measure out the milk and heat it in a saucepan to 100 degrees. Here is the first time you will want your thermometer. 100 degrees is slightly warm, but NOT hot. You don’t want to kill the yeast. Now pour in the yeast.

3. Pour the yeast and milk into a small mixing bowl with the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment one hour.

4. While you are waiting on the sponge, combine the fruit, zest and brandy in a bowl or large measuring cup.

The sponge should be really bubbly after about an hour.

5. When the sponge is ready (don’t throw away the plastic wrap!), combine the remaining flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the sponge, egg, softened butter, and a few tablespoons of the water. You want to form a soft but not sticky dough. Also, since you are going to be adding the brandy soon, it’s better if it’s slightly dry.

6. Now here is the part I hate. It involves bringing everything together. The reason I hate it is because the dough gets really slimy and hard to work with.

I also add a few handfuls of flour because it’s so wet. I want to find out if I can just add the brandy first and then if the dough needs more moisture add the water.

7. Once it is all incorporated, cover it with the plastic wrap from the sponge and let rise about an hour.

8. Take a sheet of parchment paper and dust it with rice flour. Take your dough and stretch it a little bit in your hands before setting it down on the parchment. Continue stretching until it is in the shape of a rectangle.

9. Now pour the almond slivers over the top.

10. Take the top and bottom edges and gently fold them until they meet in the middle over the almonds. Press the edges together to form a seam.

11. Now take the whole thing and flip it over so the seam-side is down. Gently even up the edges. Now cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise again for about an hour.

12. Now preheat the oven to 350. Transfer the parchment paper to a cookie sheet and put in the oven or put the parchment paper directly onto a pizza stone. Bake 20 minutes, then rotate and bake until the internal temperature is about 180-190 degrees. This takes another 20-30 minutes.

13. Remove the stollen from the oven and let cool before slicing. It tastes amazing with butter. To store it, wrap it in parchment paper and secure it with a rubber band, then store in a paper bag.

Also, here is what happens when you make stollen and give it to friends:

They give you lemons from their grandfather’s orchard in California!