Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Cooking (and baking) gets faster

One big plus to moving from 2500-feet above sea level to 466 feet? Cooking and baking are faster!

The first two loaves I’ve baked have been much browner than I’d like. Here’s a prosciutto loaf I made with hard salami.

Salami loaf

And I baked the bread for the minimum recommended time.

Last night I tried cutting the time down by five minutes. I think that did the trick.

Cheddar Loaf

This is a cheddar loaf. I haven’t cut into this gorgeous bread yet. I’m dreaming of toasting it and slathering it with mayo for a extra special egg sandwich. Or maybe making the ultimate grilled cheese and dipping it in spicy tomato soup. Mmmmm!

The prosciutto loaf, by the way, is also a new one. It was tasty and is more versatile than you might think. I spread a knock-off brand of Nutella on it a couple of mornings. It wasn’t bad. The loaf dried out a little sooner than I would have liked, but I think that’s due to the over-baking.

Both recipes, of course, came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible.


Oatmeal Poppy Seed Bread

I’ve never heard of oatmeal poppy seed bread, but it sounded promising.

Oatmeal Poppy SeedBread

Oatmeal Poppy Seed Bread

This recipe is from Bill Neal’s Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie, which I’ve written about here, here and here. I bought this book at Mabry Mill a few years ago and have enjoyed reading the history of various recipes and learning from Neal’s tips.

Neal created this bread recipe from different old Southern recipes. I think it works nicely.

Sliced oatmeal bread

I don’t usually make loaves with more wheat than bread flour. This recipe has a ratio of 3:1:1 of wheat, bread flour and oatmeal. Surprisingly, this bread doesn’t crumble as I thought it would. I meant to put in a tablespoon of additional wheat gluten, which is supposed to hold loaves together more, but forgot. Seems like I didn’t need to.

The bread makes delicious sandwiches and, I bet, would make great French toast.


Cranberry-Banana-Walnut Quick Bread

This cranberry-banana-walnut bread may look “ugly as sin,” as Chris put it, but it’s damn good! (Recipe here or a variation here.)

Cranberry Banana Walnut Bread


I made this bread for Aunt Shirley earlier this week and it turned out lovely. The bread didn’t stick anywhere and browned nicely. I did have to cook it an additional 10 minutes, but it slid right out of the pan with no problem.

For this go ’round, I did change the ratio of bread flour to cake/pastry flour from 1.5 cups: 0.5 cups to 1:1. I’m not sure that would have caused the bread to stick more though.

It seems like my Christmas baking has turned out the same for the past couple of years. Some funny disaster will happen and I’ll be left somewhat empty handed. Last year, nothing was turning out. I added too much butter or sugar into sugar cookie dough, so I had to pat it out and cook it into a big lemony mass. Breads fell apart and didn’t hold their shape. Around 8 or 9 p.m., Chris told me to stop with what I had and rushed out the door to Food Lion to buy provisions. So most of what people got last year were store-bought goodies with a surprise from me tucked in here and there.

This year Chris was on cookie duty. They turned out pretty and delicious. I’m 1 for 2 on the bread. I think I’m going to stop now.

And here are the rolls

Clover leaf rolls


These are a basic butter-dipped dinner roll in a clover leaf shape. I make this recipe all the time, but this is the first time I’ve made this shape. I thought I’d get all fancy for the holiday.

These were fun to make. You cut the dough into 18 pieces. Each piece is then cut and rolled into 3 rolls. You drop the rolls (made of 3 balls each) into greased muffin tins, coat them with butter and let them rise. Before placing them in the oven, coat them with some more butter.

Some of the rolls didn’t hold together so there are a few bite-sized rolls. I’ve already eaten a few, which means there aren’t exactly 18 rolls anymore. There should still be plenty for tomorrow.

Bye, Herman

I tossed out Herman. This is the loaf I made a few weeks ago.

Bad bread

It was very dense. It seemed the starter had become deactivated. I turned it into bread crumbs.

I tried to revive Herman by converting it from a liquid starter to a solid/dough starter. It worked. This is the loaf I got.

Good bread

The trouble is, this loaf requires more than 6 hours of rising time before it’s ready to bake. I don’t have that kind of time.

So, I made the decision to toss out Herman, and stick with much quicker recipes.

Herman recipe

So it’s been a few weeks since I introduced you to Herman.

I haven’t enjoyed the loaves as much as I had hoped, but I decided to be patient as the starter developed more flavor with each feeding. I’m glad I waited!

This week’s loaf has been delicious. Not on its own, but as a sandwich. The bread is soft and has a slight buttery taste, thanks to the tablespoon of butter in it. It’s really noticeable when the bread is warm or toasted.

The first taste was Tuesday for breakfast – an egg, tomato and onion sandwich. Here’s a couple of slices:

Sourdough slices
This bread was made from this recipe, which I found on the All Recipes website. It makes two loaves so cut everything in half for one.

If you want to try your hand at making your own Herman, here’s the recipe (altered a bit for my preference):


2 cups flour

3 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 pkg. active yeast (equal to 2 1/4 tsp.)

2 cups warm water (no hotter than 110℉)

1. Mix all ingredients and cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap.

2. Allow mixture to sit out at room temperature for 3 days, stirring at least once a day.

3. After 3rd day, the starter is ready for baking bread. Store in refrigerator.

Feeding: Feed the starter every few days (I do it every 4-5 days or so) and after taking some of it to bake bread. To feed, remove 1 cup of starter and throw it out. Replace with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Stir and place in frig until next feeding.

If you are taking out starter to make bread, add in volumes of flour and water equal to what you removed. For example, if you take out 1 1/2 cups of starter to make bread, then add in 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups water.

Let me know how it turns out! I’d like to know what you call your sourdough starter.

Flaxseed bread

I’m still baking bread. I was regularly baking bread until about 2 years ago. Then things got a little too busy and keeping up with the baking schedule was too much. So back to store-bought bread we went.

Flaxseed Bread

Flaxseed Bread

This is flaxseed bread from the The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I love this book! I’ve made the white sandwich bread, cracked wheat loaf, dinner rolls, potato bread, bagels and pita bread. It’s hard to choose a favorite from the list. Every recipe I’ve attempted has turned out amazing.

The sandwich breads have had a great crumb (texture) and complex flavors, especially if I let the bread sit overnight in the frig. For the pita bread, leaving it overnight in the frig really is the way to go.

I’ve wanted to make the brioche, but it seems you need a stand mixer because the dough is very sticky. So that’ll have to wait for sometime in the future if and when we get a bigger kitchen with more storage.

I made flaxseed bread earlier in the summer. Besides sandwiches, it makes a really good French toast. The bread is also has a very quick rise — 2 – 2 1/2 hours instead of the 4+ hours for the other sandwich breads in the book. It calls for different types of flours, but it’s worth it because of the taste and quick rise time.