Category Archives: Bread

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 22: Enriched Sweet Fruit Loaf

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).


Hi, all.

This week in my Great British Baking Show blog, I’m tackling the first challenge in season one’s eighth episode — “Advanced Dough.”

I made a panettone, which is an Italian Christmas bread.

And, guess what? It went totally fine.

Photo Credit: Giphy

I know. I know. No one is more shocked than me.

The whole process was greatly helped by one of my favorite cookbooks: The Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking book by Caroline Bretherton. It has more than 350 recipes and helpful photos to help you well, step-by-step. You should probably get it.

(P.S. No one is paying me to say that or anything, I just really like this cookbook. Though, for the record, I would like to be paid to say stuff. I’m not above it.)

Photo Credit: Giphy

Anyway…the process was easy. I just added some yeast to warm milk in a jug. And in a large bowl, I mixed sugar, bread flour and salt.

After the yeasted milk got a bit frothy, about five minutes later, I whisked in melted butter, two eggs and some vanilla.

(Side note: Is it just me or is frothy a disgusting word?)

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Anyway…then I mixed the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a soft, sticky dough.

From there, I kneaded the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes until it was all elastic-y and then I stretched it out flat. This shouldn’t have tired me out, but it really, truly did.

So I took a brief, graceful rest and then got back at it.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

I chopped up about a cup of mixed dried fruit – cranberries, golden raisins and apricots. And zested one orange. Then I put the zest and the fruit on top of my stretched-out dough. I kneaded it all up again to mix in the fruit and set it in a lightly-greased bowl to rise for about two hours.

And boy, did it ever rise.

Boom! Monster Dough!

I’m always very excited about rising dough and I have to resist the urge to just sit and stare at it while it does its thing.

And whenever I remove the covering cloth to reveal the risen dough, I feel like Rafiki in The Lion King when he holds up Simba to the adoring masses for the first time. Like, TADA! Look at this!

This is exactly how I feel, if you just imagine Simba is dough. That really would have changed the whole movie, but not necessarily for the worse I think. I’d totally watch a movie about dough rising and maturing to one day rule over a kingdom. Photo Credit: Giphy

Anyway… after my dough was risen. I punched the air out of it and moved it to my prepared pan. The recipe called for an 8-inch spring form cake pan or a high-sided panettone cake mold. I had neither.

I used the 9-inch spring form cake pan I had. That meant my cake was a bit shorter and rounder than it should have been, but given that I’m usually a bit shorter and rounder than I intend to be too, I decided not to fuss about it.

And just like last time, the dough rose beautifully and I was all like – TADA!!!!

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Photo Credit: Giphy

I brushed it with egg wash and put it in a 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. But I took it out after 20 minutes to cover it with foil because it looked like it was browning too much.

When it came out of the oven, it was shorter and rounder than a panettone is supposed to be, because I used the wrong pan. But it was beautifully brown and pretty darn good. (The only exception was the fact that it got a bit too brown on the bottom. But…shhh we won’t talk about that.)

Photo Credit: Giphy

Then I had to wait for the bread to cool and cover it with a dusting of powdered sugar, so it looked like this:

And frankly, it was pretty good, if I do say so myself.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Next week, I’m supposed to take on a complicated bake called a povitica, but for the first time ever, I’m going to skip a challenge. This is one of the most labor-intensive bakes I’ve ever seen on the show and I’m not quite up to it after the surgery I had in June. Sorry about that.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

I plan on coming back to the povitica later, but for now I’m going to skip to that episode’s Showstopper challenge – donuts.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Donuts are something I think we can all support. Because frankly, even the mention of them makes my mouth water and now all I can think is:

Photo Credit: Giphy

Until next time, grab yourself some donuts and then like the blog on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and all that other social media stuff.

And please share it with your baking or gif-loving friends.

Photo Credit: Giphy

Bonus trivia tidbit: The Great British Bake Off was renamed The Great British Baking Show in the U.S. to differentiate it from Pillsbury’s famed bake off. Thank you, Sharon, for hooking me up with that trivia!

If you have more fun facts on baking, GBBS, GBBO or all things British, please let me know. I’m all ears.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Until then, wishing you better days and buttercream,

– Ash

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 9: Filled Centerpiece Loaf

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).


It’s bread week and I’ve made it to the showstopper challenge.

This time I have to make a filled centerpiece loaf.

Don’t know what that means? Me either. I had no idea what to do for this challenge.

So … I did what I usually do in this situation, I stole an idea from someone way smarter than me, in this case GBBS contestant, Richard.

You remember Richard? Of course you do. He’s one of my favorites.

Richard is a builder (the much cooler way British people say construction worker.) He’s been star baker about a gazillion times and he always has that adorable little blue pencil tucked behind his ear. Because builders do this you guys, they really, really do. And it’s awesome.

It’s so awesome there’s a whole article about why the pencil should be your favorite GBBS contestant. (P.S. That link has some spoilers,  so don’t click it if you’re not up on your episodes. There, you have been warned. You’re welcome. )

Anyway, this isn’t about Richard’s ear pencil (no matter how much I love it), it’s about Richard’s Pesto Pinwheel Bread, which was the recipe he used in season 1 episode 3‘s showstopper challenge – filled centerpiece loaf.

So, that’s what I did too. Because if I’m going to copy someone, I’m going to copy one of the best. You can too. Here’s a link to Richard’s recipe on the official GBBS website.

And yeah, I’ll be real with you. When I first looked at this recipe I was like Oh.My. God. There are so many words. Just like, way too many words. There are about 20 ingredients and 14 separate steps and each of those steps actually has about 3 steps, because Richard likes to mess with us I guess.

And it made me feel like this:


And for a moment, I was like, umm, never mind, I’ll just skip this challenge, because:


But then as it so often does, when the April Ludgate part of my brain kicks in, the Leslie Knope part isn’t far behind. And, predictably, the Leslie Knope part was  all like, nah, you’ve got this, dude.


So then I did it. And really, it wasn’t so bad.

It actually went better than my bakes usually do, because for once I was smart enough to start baking at a reasonable time in the afternoon and not at like 10 p.m. when I usually start baking.

(Yeah, I know it’s a bad idea to start baking things that can take upwards of four hours at 10 p.m. Of course I know that, but just a reminder, this blog is called “Sometimes I Bake Mistakes” not “Sometimes I Make Really Logical, Responsible Choices”. So really this shouldn’t be all that surprising.)

Anyway, on to the bake. Let’s start with the ingredients. There were a lot of them. So many of them that they barely even fit in the obligatory “ingredients” photo I always take:

Look at all these ingredients, while ignoring how I anal retentively labeled some of the ingredients with tape.

Unlike most of my other baking challenges, the ingredients for this one  weren’t that hard to find. I had most of them on hand. I’d list them all but like I said, there’s a lot of them. So I’ll just go through the highlights.

For one, the recipe calls for “strong white flour” but when I poked around on the internet for a bit, I found out that that’s just what British people call “bread flour” and I conveniently had some of that already, because, well, it’s bread week.

And the caster sugar, yeah, I can never find that stuff, but I read you can just pulse regular ole granulated sugar in a food processor for a few beats and that does the trick. So that’s what I did.

As for the yeast Richard calls “fast-action” I saw that listed more often as “instant yeast” over here, as in over here in America.

Oh, and that semi-skimmed milk he mentions in the recipe, most things I found online say that that’s just our 2 percent milk. That’s what I used. It seemed to work.

British people say things slightly differently than we do. Though this is kind of annoying when you’re trying to follow their recipes, there’s no denying it’s adorable. Random girls in American bars love it. Love Actually taught us that.

British guy saying stuff. American girls digging it. He’s probably talking about semi-skim milk.

Anyway, Love Actually break aside, back to the bake.

The first thing Richard tells us to do is make the dough. You put the bread flour in a large mixing bowl and add in the salt, sugar, yeast, butter (I softened mine), beaten eggs, milk and about 1 fluid ounce of warm water. Mix that all up until combined and add in an additional 3.5 fl. oz. of warm water as needed until a soft dough is formed. I added in all the water.

I mixed up the dough with a wooden spoon and when that got really annoying, I just mixed it up by hand. It seemed to work, I guess, because it ended up looking like this:

Mixed dough, I think? I don’t really know.

I wasn’t really sure how well I’d really combined everything but I figured I’d have plenty of time to sort that out in the ten minutes I had to knead this bad boy. Ten minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, but it is. It so is.

Me after kneading dough for 10 minutes.

Anyhoo, then I had a great chance to actually take a nap, because my dough needed to rise. I had to put my dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and I needed to wait for it to prove for an hour.

In the mean time, I didn’t actually take a nap (even though I wanted to). Instead, I got to work on the fillings. This Pesto Pinwheel Bread is filled with you guessed it, pesto.

Richard gives you a simple recipe for pesto with the usual suspects: basil, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil and garlic. And, since I had a minor, recipe-reading mistake, I also added in the shelled walnuts I was supposed to put in another part of the filling here instead. As far as baking mistakes go, this wasn’t a big one. I mixed the pesto up in the food processor as instructed and the walnuts were just fine in there.

Pesto Mix.jpg
Making pesto with walnuts even though it’s not supposed to have walnuts. Whoops.

I love pesto, but I also realize that it looks totally disgusting.

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Pesto looking delicious and disgusting simultaneously. This is a hard thing to pull off.

FYI: I have no idea why Richard instructs us to make about 2 cups worth of pesto when later on the recipe, it only actually calls for us to use 3 tablespoons of it. Whatever, he must want us to be stocked up on pesto.

Overabundance of pesto made, you can now focus on the other fillings: roasted vegetables, feta cheese and walnut pieces (provided you didn’t accidentally add them to the pesto like I did).

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and roast your cut onion, red pepper and butternut squash on separate baking trays drizzled with olive oil. They should be tender when you’re done. This should take about 15 minutes.

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Veggies waiting to be roasted. I couldn’t think of a joke for this. My bad.

In my opinion the hardest part of this whole dang recipe is simply cutting the butternut squash. I freaking hate cutting butternut squash. It’s way harder than it looks because, well, butternut squash is hard and therefore hard to cut. I hate it. It’s the worst. But it tastes delicious.

Veggies roasted, it’s back to the bread. After it’s proved for about an hour, it will look a little something like this:

Risen Dough
I’m just now realizing this photo would carry more weight if I actually had a photo of the pre-risen kneaded dough. But I don’t. So just trust me. It got bigger, okay?

Put your risen dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 20 seconds, then cut it in two pieces and wrap half of it in lightly oiled plastic wrap. Then forget about that half for a bit.

Roll out the other half into a circle with a diameter of about 12 inches. Then let it rest for about five minutes because the dough will shrink. I’m sure there’s some sciency reason this happens, but, personally, it just feels like the dough does it on purpose to be annoying.

Rolled out.jpg
This dough has more than a 12-inch diameter. But whether or not it is a circle is up for debate.

Anyway, after the dough has rested and shrunk for sciency and/or annoying reasons, you get to roll it again, this time to a 13-inch diameter. Then put it on a large baking tray. (I lightly oiled mine.)

Now it’s time to add the pesto and the filling.  There’s going to look like there is way too much filling for the size of the dough. I mean just look at this:

Filling and dough
Big bowl of fillings, small “circle” of dough.

First, take three tablespoons of that pesto you made (yeah, you only need three. I don’t understand why he made you make so much either) and spread it out on your dough, which is now sitting on the baking tray. Then pile on the fillings, taking care to make the fillings a bit thicker in the middle than on the edges.

Filling on dough.jpg
This  looks overstuffed – like every single fajita or burrito I’ve ever made in my life.

Remember that other dough you had? Yeah, I’d forgotten it too. But it’s important again now.

Roll it out like you did with the last dough, resting it and then rolling it again (because of science or annoyance, whichever.) Then lightly coat the edges of the bottom dough with water and place your new top dough on well, the top, pushing down on the edges to seal the two together.

Topped Dough.jpg
Somehow all that filling fit in there. Yeah, I don’t know how I got that to work either.

Now comes the tricky part – or the part that sounded really scary to me. Because here’s what Richard said: “Use a sharp knife to trim the dough into a neat circle (approximately 30cm/12in diameter). Place a small bowl over the filling. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 equally-sized strips radiating from the bowl. Carefully twist each strip twice.”

And I was like:


But it turns out it wasn’t as hard as it sounded. I just put a small bowl in the middle like he said, and then used tooth picks to try to mark out the strips so they’d be even. Richard didn’t even tell me to do that, I thought of that myself. Yeah, I’m surprised by that too.

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This toothpick idea was sort of brilliant. Not to brag or anything. But, I’m bragging about it, if that was unclear for some reason.

Then you cut the strips and twist them twice, which seems really weird and scary but it actually it wasn’t.

Half Twisted.jpg
It’s so easy even I can do it.

Then you twist, and twist, and twist some more, until you’ve done the twists all the way around. Make sure you press down the ends of the twists to better connect them to the baking tray. That will keep them from popping up while the dough rises again Because, it has to rise again. Which means you have to wait again – another 30 minutes this time.

This will feel like it takes forever.


In the mean time, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Then once the dough has sufficiently risen, brush the top of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle on some pine nuts, salt and pepper.

Then bake your masterpiece for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is golden-brown. If your dough twists start getting too brown too early, you can put aluminum foil on them to stop that.

I didn’t need to do that but I did end up needing to bake my loaf for closer to 30 to 35 minutes than the 20 to 25 minutes the recipe called for.

This is because my oven is a weakling or because I’m paranoid about under-baking things. Most likely, it’s a bit of both.

But anyway, baking done, it ended up looking like this:

This looks pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Which, I just did.

And predictably, I was pretty pleased.


It was pretty awesome.

Also, awesome. There’s a “new” season of GBBS on PBS right now.

Season 4 premiered Friday night and yeah, of course I watched it.  The last time I checked, two episodes were available online on PBS: Episode 1 “Cake” and Episode 2 “Biscuits”.

I watched them both. You should watch them too and then we should talk about it, because I have a lot of feelings about them.

Due to some irresponsible Googling, I already know who wins Season 4 because it already aired in Britain, but I’m trying not to let that affect my favorites.

My favorite so far (by far) is Val because I mean, come on:

This is so sweet, I can’t even handle it.

So taking Val’s advice, next week I’ll move on to Season 1 Episode 4 “Desserts” and I’ll attempt to bake these challenges with love or you know, I’ll just try not to massively screw them up. Whichever is easier.

P.S. My challenge next week is to make “saucy puds” which are cakes which have filling or sauce at the bottom.

P.P.S.”Saucy puds” just sounds cool right? Like I said, British people say things differently than we do. And it’s usually better. Their way is better.

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 8: Ciabatta

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).


Like any real Golden Girls fan, I want to be like Sophia Petrillo – a wise and often wise-cracking little woman with a flair for Old-World story telling, Italian cooking and dishing out sick burns.

Forgot Sophia? Here’s a refresher:

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You get it, my girl Sophia is a baller so much so that she occasionally hits people with a melon baller:


But, most of the time, Sophia and I don’t have that much in common. I’ve never been to Sicily, in 1922 or otherwise, and I’m no expert at Italian cooking or comebacks.

Frankly, the only thing Sophia and I have in common is in the looks department, and considering the fact that the character is supposed to be in her 80s, I don’t want to dwell on that now.

What I am going to talk about is my recent Sophia-like adventures in Italian cooking. Okay, so it wasn’t so much adventures as it an adventure-singular. And, technically it wasn’t so much of an adventure as it was just me cooking a loaf of bread in my kitchen on a Monday evening.

But, I made ciabatta bread – the Italian staple, so I’m basically Sophia now right? Of course I am, and you can be too, because, turns out, making ciabatta is actually really easy.

Let’s start from the beginning – the recipe.

Ciabatta was the technical challenge on season 1 episode 3’s “Bread” episode. (FYI: I’m using the seasons available on Netflix in the U.S., so the episode numbers won’t sync up with what was shown in the U.K.)

Anyway, if you watch GBBS (which, you should really be watching GBBS) you’ll know that in the technical challenge contestants are given a pared down version of a recipe – one that is missing measurements, some instructions and cooking times. And if you don’t watch GBBS you know that now too, because I just told you. You’re welcome.

But since I’m not actually on the show, I get to use the full recipe which is available on the official GBBS website here.

Ordinarily I’d try to follow this recipe but I didn’t this time because GBBS’ recipe calls for a stand mixer and I don’t have one of those.

So I went with a recipe from the Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking cookbook by Caroline Bretherton instead. It looks like this:

Big ole book of baking

The ciabatta recipe is the only recipe I’ve tried in this cookbook but it worked well so the book is at a 100 percent success rate so far, which is nothing to sneeze at. (Sidenote: What a stupid expression, huh? Who even has enough control of their sneezes to aim them at things? And who would want to?)

Anyhoo, I used this cookbook because its ciabatta recipe didn’t call for a stand mixer, just a bowl, a wooden spoon and a whole bunch of kneading.

Plus the ingredients list was easy too. You just need 2 tsp. dried yeast; 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for greasing; 2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting and 1 tsp. sea salt.

Yup, that’s it. Those are all the ingredients, except for the water. You know what water looks like. I didn’t need to show you.

From here just dissolve the yeast in 1 1/2 cups of warm water and then add the olive oil to it.

Put the flour and the salt in a large bowl and make a little well in the middle of that and pour your yeast/oil mixture into it.

Looks like lemon pudding. Does not taste like lemon pudding.

Mix it all up with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough.

Dough ball

Put the dough ball on a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes until it is “smooth, soft, and somewhat slippery.” That’s what the cookbook says. They’re into alliteration I guess.

Then put the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. The cookbook doesn’t say what bowl to use, but on GBBS the contestants are told to use square plastic containers because it’s supposed to help the dough keep its shape. I don’t really know if that works, but who am I to question Paul Hollywood’s bread-making advice? The man is practically a bread wizard.

Just making a little bread magic.

Then you have to wait for two whole hours (which incidentally allows you plenty of time to watch some Golden Girls).

During that time, your dough should double in size.

Look at that, the dough really rose to the occasion, huh? I was so proud. Of the dough. Not of that terrible “rose to the occasion” pun.

Then, get another floured surface ready because you need to “gently knock the dough back with your fists” and divide it into 2 pieces, which you then knead briefly and shape into “slipper” shapes, about 12 by 4 inches. Ciabatta in Italian means “slipper”.

These are weird, misshapen slippers.

Put the weird-shaped slippers on parchment-lined baking shapes. FYI: my parchment paper is only oven-safe up to 420 degrees F and this recipe calls for the oven to be set at 450 degrees F. So check your parchment paper, something I didn’t do until my bread was already in the oven…

Then your dough needs to rise again. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap and a towel and leave it alone for an hour. It should double in volume.

It’s weird that I think this is cute, right? Like, am I the only one who thinks it looks like the dough is taking a nap under a blanket? That’s just me? Okay, never mind.

After your dough is sufficiently rested or risen or whatever, remove the towel/blanket and the plastic wrap. If you’re anything like me, removing the plastic wrap will be hard because this dough is super, silly sticky. Like it’s ridiculous. I would have taken a picture of this step but I couldn’t, because my fingers, like the plastic wrap, were covered in dough.

Once you’ve de-doughed your plastic wrap and your hands, make sure your oven is preheated to 450 degrees like we talked about before and at this point, you’re supposed to mist your bread loaves with water. I don’t have a handy dandy mister thing, so I just used a pasty/basting brush to brush some water on. A lot of water.

I remembered that the GBBS contestants said you need water/hence steam to make the dough crispy and crustier. Look at me, learning stuff from T.V.!

Then put your water-coated bread in the oven for a total of 30 minutes. You’ll need to take it out every 10 minutes and mist it or brush it with water. Because steam, guys!

(Parchment paper update: like I said, my paper wasn’t safe to be in the oven at the temperature this recipe called for, so after my initial ten-minute baking, I removed the paper, which had gotten decidedly brown and just put the dough directly on the pan. Fire safety, ya’ll. I wasn’t a junior fire patrol captain in fifth grade for nothing. Also I can’t explain why I remember I was junior fire patrol captain, or why I felt the need to brag about it just now. I’m just weird. You should know that by now.)

Fire-hazard paper removed, bake your bread until the top is golden brown and the bottom seems hollow when you tap it. Turns out, knocking on the bread can show you what the texture is like inside. You don’t even need an MRI for that.

You don’t need MRIs. You can just knock it, Will Arnett’s  Parks and Recreation cameo guy. Sheesh.

Remove your bread-filled bread from the oven, and it should look like this. Or, well, mine looked like this: golden-brown, and delicious but also slightly-misshapen.

This is the angle where they look the best. I’m not even gonna show you the other angles.

Then you have to wait 30 minutes before you can cut into the bread, which is the longest waiting you’ve had to do yet. Because, you want to eat the bread, duh.

But once I could finally cut the bread, I found out that it had neat, little air pockets inside which is good, I think.

Air holes, ya’ll. Nailed it.

And I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty proud of myself at this point. Because not only did they look pretty good, they tasted good too. (Once I was finally, finally allowed to eat them.)

So yeah, I felt like this:


Next week though, I may feel differently because things are going to get harder. Way harder. We’ve reached another “showstopper” challenge and I have to make a filled centerpiece loaf of bread. How do you do that?


So yeah, that should be interesting…

P.S. If you’re liking these blogs and wanna help support my GBBS project, you can now donate some dough (tacky, awful baking pun) through my PayPal account: I’ll use the money to buy ingredients and to buy baking equipment I don’t have yet, like a stand mixer so I don’t have to keep mixing things by hand like a rookie.

P.P.S. I just remembered I forgot to share the most important part of any bread week challenge. This:


That just doesn’t get old.

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 7: Rye Bread Rolls

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).


I’ve reached bread week and I’m pretty damn excited about it, because, like Oprah, I. Love.Bread.  (Yeah, I totally used that video in last week’s blog but I’m not even embarrassed to share it again, because I love it that much.)

I’ll share it in every single bread week blog if I have to and I’ll probably have to, because I just love bread that darn much. (P.S. I just Googled “I love bread” because, well, I do things like that, and this bizarre/possibly amazing video came up. I can’t tell if it’s brilliant or the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. But it’s one or the other, I’m sure of it.)

Anyway, now that that song’s stuck in my head (and possibly yours) I’ll get to the point: this week’s challenge was rye bread rolls and I totally nailed it, guys.

My rye bread rolls were much better than al-rye-ight. (Get it, alright? Okay, that was embarrassing.)

Ordinarily I try to use recipes from the official GBBS website. They post several of the contestants’ recipes for each episode. Unfortunately they didn’t post any of the rye bread roll recipes this time so I had to go rogue. (That may have been the lamest use of the phrase “go rogue” ever.)

It took me awhile to find a rye bread roll recipe that seemed easy and had ingredients I could actually find at my local grocery store. But eventually I settled on this recipe from Taste of Home.

I picked it because I’d heard of all the ingredients, but that didn’t mean I could easily find all of the ingredients. I can’t tell you how long I wandered around the grocery store looking for nonfat dry milk powder. Turns out it was in a totally normal spot in the baking section, but, anyway, in case you have a hard time finding it too, it looks like this:

powdered milk
Once I saw the package I remembered that we used to have some of this in our cupboard because of Y2K. Because who didn’t have weird dry milk in their cupboard because of Y2K?

Anyway, I also couldn’t find the rye flour, which was kind of a big deal considering it’s the main ingredient in rye rolls. Eventually I found a whole grain rye flour in the health food section. (Ordinarily I avoid the health food section, because I’m sorry, it just has to be said, that section smells weird, guys. It just does.)

It was easier to round up the rest of the ingredients though: active dry yeast, water, eggs, butter, all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and molasses. I skipped the suggested caraway seeds and used the kosher salt instead because caraway seeds were like $6 for a small container and I’m way too cheap to spend that much on seeds. I’m not made of seed money.

Here’s a picture of the rest of the ingredients totally not missing caraway seeds at all.

From there, the recipe was pretty straight-forward. I just had to dissolve the yeast in warm water and then mix everything up in a big ole bowl. The recipe had me add 2 cups of the all-purpose flour first, mix the dough and then add the rye flour and an additional one to two cups of all purpose flour and mix again. I was supposed to make a soft dough.

In my very amateur opinion, all dough looks soft. I mean it’s dough.

mixed dough
It looks soft, I think. But, yeah I really don’t know.

Then I had to dump my (hopefully soft) dough unto a well-floured surface so I could knead it.

kneaded dough
Dough that “kneaded” to be “kneaded”. Ugh…that was a bad pun.

Confession time: I have no idea how to knead dough.

chris traeger.gif

I’m pretty sure I just punched the dough for 8 minutes because the recipe told me to knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, and as I had no idea what I was doing, I figured I may as well just do whatever I was doing, longer.


After I’d punched the dough or actually kneaded it (who knows) I had to put it into a greased bowl, cover it and let it rise for an hour (or until it had doubled in size).

ready to rise.jpg
Dough ready to “rise” to the occasion. Yeah, the puns aren’t going to get better.

Here’s a little tidbit about me, I’m never patient enough to wait to let things double in size, so I just took it out after an hour because I was sick of waiting.

Then after that, I had to roll the dough into 30 well, rolls and brush them with an egg wash and sprinkle on a bit of that kosher salt we talked about earlier. This took awhile, there were a lot of rolls.

I was going to make a pun here about how I was “on a roll” with roll-rolling but even I thought that was too much.

Then,  here’s the worst part: I had to wait for the rolls to rise again. This was supposed to take about 45 minutes.

I took the photo below when I felt like the rolls had been rising a long time, like a really long time. As you can see by the timer on the oven, it had only been 7 minutes. Patience is, uh, not my thing.

Rolls taking forever to rise. Lil’ slackers.

Thankfully, the baking bit went much faster. It only took about 17 minutes to get these babies golden brown. That’s more than what the recipe told me to do but yeah, I’m an overachiever (and, also usually an over-baker). This time though, my tendency to go baking-overboard worked out.

The rolls came out looking pretty great. I didn’t even have to try to hide any ugly ones in the picture this time.

bread and beer
The beer is not part of this but I just think it’s a really good beer and you should drink some.

Anyway, if I’m going to get real honest and a bit braggy for a second, let me just say these rolls were by far the best thing I’ve baked yet. They remind me of soft pretzels in that they’re delicious like them and I want to eat way too many of them and also, I did eat too many of them.

Frankly when these bad boys came out of the oven looking good and tasting even better I was tempted to do a bit of this:

chandler dance

But I didn’t of course, because, I’m way classier than that, obviously and a better dancer. Or not.

The point is, these rolls were good. You should make some.

Next week, I’ll tackle a much tougher challenge: ciabatta loaves. At that point, I probably won’t be feeling Chandler-victory-dance-level cocky. So for now I’ll take the wins where I can get ’em and I’ll eat a bunch of rolls. Because I can and because, if I haven’t mentioned this yet, I love bread.

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So thanks in advance. You’re the freaking best. In that way you’re a lot like bread.