Baking pretzel rolls for Thanksgiving

I haven’t baked any sort of bread that requires yeast in quite a while. That all changed when I read the pretzel parker house rolls recipe on Smitten Kitchen recently. While I don’t have a clue what a parker house roll is (yes, I could look it up), I did know that the rolls sounded (and looked) delicious. Following her recipe, and using the baking soda wash instead of lye, I now have made two batches of these rolls and froze them for Thanksgiving. I’ve taste tested a roll from each batch and can tell you that not only are they easy to make, they are also delicious. I’m not really a fan of kneading dough by hand, so I used my KitchenAid to take care of that part.

The yeast comes alive:



The dough hook does the hard work:




The dough after kneading:




The dough after first rise – I used a pizza cutter to cut up the dough into 16 kinda equal slices, like a pie, as the recipe suggests:




The dough formed into rolls, prior to the second rise:




After second rise, before washing in baking soda / water and egg rinses:




The finished product – so good!



Making bread cakes for bike training season

The Feed Zone Cookbook, source of the original recipe

The Feed Zone Cookbook, source of the original recipe

In recent bike training seasons I’ve found that I have to eat relatively simple foods while out on my rides. Power bar style foods haven’t been cutting it. I’ve found some products that I can buy like Thunderbird Energetica bars (cashew fig carrot is my favorite) and Honey Stinger chews that agree with me, but I’ve also been experimenting with making my own portable snacks. I recently picked up the Feed Zone Cookbook to help my experimentation. One recipe called savory bread cakes caught my interest since I have a special place in my heart for bread. I changed the recipe a bit of course, since I decided to omit the bacon.

Savory bacon bread cakes

Savory bread cakes

I halved the recipe to find out if I liked it or not. My recipe:

  • 2 cups cubed rosemary sourdough bread
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese, cheddar and cotija (I used extra since I skipped the bacon)
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar
Mmmm... rosemary sourdough is delicious and give the bread cakes good flavor

Mmmm… rosemary sourdough is delicious and give the bread cakes good flavor

First, cube the sourdough bread.

First, cube the sourdough bread.

Pour the milk on the bread cubes and let it soak a bit.

Pour the milk on the bread cubes and let it soak a bit.

Whisk up the eggs.

Whisk up the eggs.

Add the eggs, cheese and salt to the bread and mix it up.

Add the eggs, cheese and salt to the bread and mix it up.

After greasing a bread pan, pour in the mixture.

After greasing a bread pan, pour in the mixture. Bake at 350 until firm. About 25 minutes for my batch.

Finished bread cakes.

Finished bread cakes.

Sliced up, ready to eat.

Sliced up, ready to eat.

After baking the bread cake, I let it cool, sliced it into four pieces and wrapped the pieces up in parchment paper and froze them. I ate one during my latest Bike MS training ride, the Real Ale Ride. The bread cake was soft by the time I stopped to eat it, so it definitely could not be eaten while riding, which I would have preferred. However, it was quite tasty. I might go with a bit less cheese next time because there were a few large cheddar chunks that I wasn’t too excited about eating in the heat.

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Making beer bread… again

After my last attempt at beer bread I decided to try again, this time with fresh baking powder. This time I made the plain variety from Bake at 350 using Anchor Christmas Ale:

I only baked the bread for 50 minutes at this time, in the hope that would make the bread fluffier with a softer crust.  The bread was somewhat less dense this time but still had a rather hard crust. I’m not certain why the crust is so hard but the bread is pretty tasty warm out of the oven:

Making beer bread

Since I came across this recipe for different types of beer bread on Bake at 350, I knew I wanted to try it. My previous experience with beer bread was delicious. A softball party for team “Beer Me” was the perfect opportunity to bake up a batch, or two as it turns out.

I decided to make a loaf of the orange nutmeg for the party and a loaf of gruyere and rosemary for my husband to take to work.

The recipe calls for self rising flour which we don’t have and I’ve never used it before. My husband pointed me to wikipedia which says you can make your own self rising flour by adding 1 tsp of baking power and 1/2 tsp of salt to regular flour. I combined those ingredients with a bottle of beer (Avery White for the orange nutmeg bread), 3 tablespoons of sugar, zest from an orange and freshly grated nutmeg.

For the gruyere and rosemary bread, I used a bottle of Real Ale Pale Ale.

I then baked the breads for 1 hour at 350. The bread smelled wonderful.  When I took it out, the orange rosemary bread was drizzled with a fresh squeezed orange juice and powdered sugar glaze.

The gruyere rosemary bread was covered with butter.

While the bread looked tasty, it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped.  The baking powder must have been too old because the bread turned out too hard.  I also think a sweeter bread would have been better.