Tuesday, December 29, 2020


This year had fewer posts than the previous year, but loads of recipes! It was also the year that we lost the Bread Baker's Dog, Xam, so I'm going to give a little more attention to the bread recipes as I go through the year's highlights. It's also the year I finished my first go at Cake Slice Bakers, even though I again joined the group later, having missed the bakers and baking cakes. One of my all-time favorite cakes was a group bake in February. If you like chocolate and coffee you'll probably love Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Cake. It's a bit like a New York Crumb Cake but with coffee and toffee and chocolate.

There were some fairly basic recipes on the blog in 2011, including fresh lemonade, Irish soda bread, Hello Dolly Bars, also known as 7-Layer Bars, French Toast, No-Knead Bread in a Pot, Royal Icing, Classic Peanut Butter Cookies, Spritz Cookies, and the recipe that has gotten the most views of any on my blog, Plain and Simple Bread.

At the other end of the scale, there are complicated recipes including Croissants, French Bread, Panettone with Dates and Walnuts, which has a loaf inside of dough with dates and walnuts hidden by another layer of dough...and it's Italian and a celebration bread.

In January you have a couple of posts with photos that include the hands of the bakers. Usually any photographed hands are mine, but in these cases I was baking with others and so first I captured my Mom's hands, making her famous Crescent Cookies for Christmas (now that she is gone I really treasure those photos!) and then various women's hands from a group bread baking day where seven or eight of us made two kinds of yeasted rolls. 

I am not a professional cook, baker, or teacher, so that day was a stretch for sure. I had to break down the steps ahead of time and make one of the doughs in advance, taking photos to illustrate how things should look, so that we could jump right in and start baking rolls with that dough once I arrived. My kitchen is small, but I was fortunate enough that a friend with a large kitchen was willing to be the hostess. The second batch of rolls was  made once the first batch were in the oven and they were and allowed to rise while we had lunch. Shaping, rising and baking happened after lunch...a full day! 

We made Braided Sesame Rolls and Shaped Rolls topped with either sea salt or seeds. Both recipes were from King Arthur Flour.

I also made one of my favorite breads in 2011 - Walnut Fougasse. Not only does the bread look spectacular...like a big leaf...but it has lots of crust because of the slashing and is delicious with the chopped walnuts.

Perhaps the recipe with the best backstory is the Galette des Roi , a celebration cake of puff pastry and almond filling that I made while visiting my Mom for New Years. One of the things that I didn't know was that my Mom had bought a new oven. The other thing was that the new oven had a timer that people used for other things, like timing when to put the laundry in the dryer. A hot oven is essential with this dessert so that the puff pastry puffs up. If the oven is turned off along with the timer when the laundry goes into the dryer, it might still be warm enough to burn something on the bottom, but won't be really hot, but who knew it had been turned off? In went the galette anyway, the filling seeped out and the bottom of the oven was still hot enough to burn the dripping filling, sending clouds of smoke into the kitchen. One of my siblings took a video as my niece and I tried to fan the smoke out the open window using cookie sheets! It was hilarious...but the galette was almost inedible once it finished cooking in the newly heated oven and it sure didn't puff up. The oven was also a mess and no longer shiny-new. I may have to try baking the Galette des Roi again with my own oven!

I'm going to leave you with a lovely recipe for an Herbed Potato Sourdough Bread. I combined two recipes and made this one up and it turned out fine. I baked it as a loaf and as a stunning braid. Give it a try if you have sourdough starter around (and I hear that many have become custodians of sourdough starters because of the pandemic), so here is an original recipe to enjoy and maybe play with too.

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