Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Babes Bake Bee Keeper Loaf

In the middle of the week for each of the last three or four weeks we've had a heat wave. Even the days that are not super hot aren't really what we expect them to be like, here in the North Bay. Most summers we have a lot of fog and the chill that fog brings and a few hours of sun in the middle of the day and not much rain...often no rain after April. This year we've had some rain each month, thunderstorms (which used to be rare), and this warm to hot weather. At least there isn't much of the mugginess that I disliked as a child, growing up in Northern Virginia. Still, I would be happy with the usual fog.

Heat waves don't inspire me to bake, so little of that has been going on. I did bake some brownies from a mix on Friday but I added small chunks of bittersweet chocolate to make them more interesting. They were a tea treat from a good friend who loves chocolate. She and I sat far enough apart to qualify as social distancing and we consumed a lot of tea and a few of those brownies.

On Sunday it was cool enough to bake but I was tired from painting the floor in the farm house office, so all I did was start the biga for the Bread Baking Babes amazing June bread, brought to us by Tanna of My Kitchen In Half Cups. It's called Bee Keeper's Pain de Mie and it uses a good amount of honey! If you are adventurous you can also steep lavender, camomile or both in the warm milk that you mix the honey into. I had some really, really nice raw blackberry honey, so I skipped the herbs so that I could taste the honey.

This is one of those recipes that requires you to think and act ahead. You start both the biga and the milk mixture 12 to 18 hours before mixing the full dough. It's also fun because you use a pullman loaf pan (or you engineer something that works like a pullman pan...using bricks!) Of course that would be if you were baking in a regular size oven that allows space for both the loaf pan and bricks. Unfortunately, with the heat, I baked the loaf in my toaster oven so I didn't try for a pullman style, just a regular loaf. I also found that it was very slow to rise. That meant in my case that by bedtime it still hadn't risen enough, so I put the pan and dough into the fridge overnight, then let it sit at room temperature in the morning to finish rising. I only made one loaf since it's just the two of us. Sweetie really liked this bread, especially the buttery quality of it.

This dough browns easily. I actually burned part of the top crust on my loaf by not watching it as it baked. Perhaps baking in the toaster oven didn't allow sufficient space between the top of the loaf and the top of the oven. In the end, I turned the oven down to 325 degrees F for the last 5 minutes.

This is a lovely bread, soft and moist and very buttery. It is only slightly sweet and you taste a hint of sweetness, not the honey itself. I used a fairly strongly flavored blackberry honey, so it's interesting that not much honey flavor remains.

I think this will make wonderful French toast, regular toast, grilled sandwiches, etc. It's just as it it or with a bit of butter spread on it. The crumb is delightful. The crust is pretty thin, but that's OK. Do try this one yourself...just remember to start it the day before you want to bake it.

If you' like to be a Buddy, bake the bread, send an email to Tanna with a photo and a short note about your baking experience with this bread. She'll send you a Buddy badge. Do this by June 29th! Please use BBB Buddy w Bee Keeper’s Pain De Mis as the subject line.

Do visit other Bread Baking Babes sites to see how they baked the bee keeper's bread.

Bee Keeper's Pain de Mie
Martin Philip's book Breaking Bread: A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes
Breaking Bread - 
two 9X5 pullman pans


410 grams durum flour

410 grams AP flour

352 grams water
172 grams wildflower tea (lavender) 
17 grams salt, fine
16 grams yeast
123 grams butter


******** BIGA******** 

410 grams AP flour  (205 grams for 1 loaf)

246 grams water (123 grams for 1 loaf)

pinch yeast


170 grams milk (85 grams soy creamer for 1 loaf)
35 grams honey (subtracted 57 grams sugar, increased honey) (18 grams honey)
4 grams lavender  (omit)
2 grams chamomile flowers (omit)

******** FINAL DOUGH FORMULA********
172  grams wildflower tea (86 grams for 1 loaf)
656  grams Biga (all above) (328 grams Biga for 1 loaf)
106 grams water  (53 grams water for 1 loaf)
410 grams Durum flour or Bread flour   (205 grams bread flour for 1 loaf)
123  grams butter   (62 grams non-dairy butter for 1 loaf)
17 grams salt, fine  (9 grams salt, fine, for 1 loaf)
16 grams yeast   (8 grams yeast for 1 loaf)



Combine the flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl. 
Add tepid water (75-80°).  Mix briefly, then knead until a smooth dough forms.
Cover and set at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.

WILDFLOWER LAVENDER TEA ~ I have not used the chamomile and lavender. I wanted to try it with just the honey the first time.

Combine milk, honey in a small pot.
Over low heat, warm the mixture so the honey mixes into the milk.
When there are small bubbles around the edges add the chamomile and lavender if using.
Turn off the heat.
Cover and allow to set at room temperature 12 to 16 hours.
Strain before using.
Warm the tea to 80° when ready to use.

DAY TWO FINAL DOUGH ~ I used a stiff spatula to break up the biga, then my hands, and did all the rest of the mixing with my hands. 
Ending desired dough temperature: 80°.
Combine strained Tea, all the BIGA and the water.
Mix until the biga is broken up.
Add very soft butter, flour, salt and yeast.
Stir until the dough forms a shaggy mass.
Resist the urge to add more flour.

Cover and allow to rise for about 90 minutes.

Fold after 30 and 60 minutes; then leave untouched until divide.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces which will weight approximately 750 grams each. (Piece for 1 loaf will be about 750 grams.)
Pre-shape as tubes. Cover and rest 15 minutes.

Butter or spray two (one) loaf pans or two 9x5 inch pullman pans.
Shape as pan loaves.
With the long side facing you, fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center and the top third over (like a business letter). Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand.
Place in pans seam side down. Press dough into pans to evenly fill to all corners.

For loaf pans: Cover and proof until dough is about 1 to 1.5 inches above top of pan: about 60 - 90 minutes. (Mine took so long that I ended up putting the pan with dough into the fridge overnight and baking it in the morning.

For pullman pans: Place the dough seam-down into the pan, and press it evenly into the corners. Put the lid on the pan and close all but an inch or so in order to monitor the loaf as it rises.
Allow the dough to rise until it's just below the lip of the pan, 60 to 90 minutes.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

If using a loaf pan, score the loaf in the middle. Put in the oven.

Close the lid of the pan completely, and put the pan in the oven.

Bake the bread for 20 then remove the lid and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. The loaf should be a deep golden brown on all sides.

Remove the loaf from the oven and, after 5 minutes, turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. Do not allow to cool in the pan as that will result in a soggy crust.


  1. I'm glad you got to share brownies with your friend and so happy it cooled enough for you to bake along!

  2. Oh, I completely want to turn this into French toast!

  3. Oh my but toaster ovens are the best when it to to hot!
    I'm with you on your honey, I would want the raw blackberry honey to be the star. Good honey certainly can carry this away. I'm thinking that the honey here slows the rise. Great baking! Glad Sweetie enjoyed!

  4. Ha! Thinking and acting ahead ... where's the fun in that! Lovely crumb. I like your idea of using this bread for French Toast.

  5. We are cursed with small ovens... I would have to do it your way. Still, sounds delicious!

  6. Ooh, what a beautiful crumb on that bread. Agree with you about the weather; it's been far more humid than I can understand, and also, oddly, far more cold - and wiiiiiiindy all the time. I can hardly sit outside - it's either really too hot, or too cold, and why is the temp uptick always midweek? So, so weird. And yet: I'll take it -- it's giving us some fits in the garden, as NOTHING is growing as it ought (when you cannot even get radishes or beets to grow heartily, your life is a strange thing indeed), but it could be worse... it could always be worse.

    At least the plus are ripening (and falling) on schedule.

  7. Ooooh!! Blackberry honey! I bet that is lovely.

    And how brilliant of you to bake the bread in the toaster oven! I will remember that when it gets poisonously hot here.

    I applaud you and your friend for having lots of tea and a few brownies. I would be likely to have lots of brownies and a few cups of tea....

  8. I can see the top got a bit dark but I wouldn't mind at all. The crumb of your bread looks lovely. :)