Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


My friend DB has begun making bread, after an interlude of years, and she waxes rhapsodic about it. It sounds so nurturing, so domestic, so - womanly! And I have a brand new mixer just sitting there, waiting to be utilized. So (sorry DB) I became a copy cat.

I am by no means a proficient cook, but I have learned, in a long and adventurous life, that your first few attempts at bread baking will not be fluffy and delicate, so when I went ot Bob's Red Mill, I got some rye flour. Rye bread is not SUPPOSED to be light and delicate. If it turns out dense and heavy, well good for it!

Then i got out the James Bear on Bread cookbook and looked up rye recipes. There was one made with beer which I figured was a bonus because the beer would give and extra boost to the leaven. It also included two tablespoons of salt which seemed a bit excessive to me, but what do I know?

I mixed it up. This is not the first time I have dealt with yeast, and I know that if you put yeast dough in a dark, warm place, it will produce friendly gasses and nearly double in size. I KNOW this. This is not, as they say, my first rodeo. And yet, I am unable to stop tearing off bits of the raw dough and eating them. My belly is a dark, warm place. When the dough doubles in size, it hurts. The friendly gasses result in belching, and later flatulence that would amaze and possibly even startle a troop of Marines or even Boy Scouts at a chili feed. It's colder than a dead eskimo outside, so I spent a lot of time walking around in the garage until I realized that the pilot light on the waterheater could ignite . . .this really isn't suitable talk for a 60 year old lady, is it?

So anyway, the bread rose satisfactorily, smelled heavenly, sliced nicely, and was as salty as a pickle. DH consoled me, reminding me that experiments often go awry, and it takes a while to develope a touch for bread. "Try again, - with a different recipe."

What to do with the two loaves of salty rye? Throw it to the birds. Experimental breads will probably turn them into experimental Frankenbirds. If anyone in the neighborhood notices crows with bolts through their necks and visible stitches where parts have been attached, it's my fault. A squirrel just carried off a chunk. Experimental squirrels? Who knows? Oh crap! The possum will probably get into it, too. What will this do to the babies? Sour, salty, wry, ugly little critters waddling thorugh the night next spring? I never meant it to happen!


  • At 3:18 PM , Blogger LA said...

    Hey! Be sure you write a note in that book to reduce the salt!!! You'll want to try that recipe again later!!!

  • At 4:28 PM , Blogger Heide said...

    Too bad the recipe was so whack. I laughed out loud at your pilot light comment. Is that inappropriate to do for a 40-something mother of three? I think not! Nor was the comment wrong coming from you. I think people take life just too darned seriously for their own good.

  • At 4:34 PM , Blogger Maggie said...

    Oh my goodness! That is so funny! Listen, you'll have to come to east Tennessee and make bread with me. James Beard was an opinionated old fart who could cook his socks off, but bread, not so much. If you can't make it here, get the Tassajara Bread Book. Every used book store has copies. It is the absolute best beginner bread book, and I make the basic recipe every Sunday. There's a variation that calls for rye flour, the Oatmeal-Rye recipe, oh-so-yummy. And easy.

    Too bad about the squirrels, but no one likes possums.

  • At 6:10 PM , Anonymous Benita said...

    Oh, for heavens sake! I think I ruptured something laughing at this post. Ow! Ow! Ow! :)

  • At 6:13 AM , Blogger KnitTech said...


    Good luck with the bread making.

  • At 9:31 AM , Anonymous Lisa Nowak said...

    You'll probably give them a high blood pressure. I had similar results with a recipe for margarita bars I got out of Foodday. They had key lime in them and would have been great if they weren't so salty. There was salt in the crust, salt in the filling, and salt in the topping. I think the salt in the crust would have been plenty.

  • At 9:54 AM , Blogger Lyssa Kaehler said...

    I learned to make bread from Laurel's Kitchen, and I remember that book saying something like "Undercooked bread will deliver a whale of a bellyache to an unsuspecting guest" though I can't keep my fingers out of anything else I'm cooking, I stay out of the bread dough.

    When you find a recipe you really like, tell us! I want to get back into breadmaking too.

  • At 11:52 AM , Blogger Amy Lane said...

    LOL-- okay-- not only shall I never attempt to make bread, but I shall NEVER attempt to eat it, or feed it to any animal whatsoever. Salty and rye... how very appropriate...

  • At 1:26 PM , Anonymous tlbw said...

    I've been baking yeast bread on-and-off for 45 years or so. I'd advise not starting with rye unless you are really craving it. I'd start with basic white breads, then mixed whole wheat, then on to 100% ww and rye breads. Rye bread are almost always disappointing unless made on a starter or sponge.
    I checked my copy of Bread on Bread and found no such recipe. I've had good luck with everything I have tried from my edition. Perhaps yours is earlier and was reedited? There are also such things as typos. In general 1 tsp salt is good for 1 cup of liquid in yeast breads. Also, if this recipe called for kosher salt and you used regular, you were adding almost half again as much salt as was really called for. It must be admitted, however, that before Beard had the fear of heart attack put into him and modified his diet somewhat, he did seem to like things a bit saltier than I do.
    Saturday I will give you the Cafe des Amis Pumpernickel recipe, plus a variation I've made since.
    You do know about GM Better for Bread flour, right? It is higher gluten than all-purpose, not a big deal in all white flour breads but really helpful when working with whole grain blends. I believe there is still a good basic recipe from Rose Levy Berenbaum, of The Cake Bible fame, called "Hearth Bread", on the bag.
    Could you bring me your knitting pattern for flip-top mittens? You know what I mean; I can't think of a better description. Thanks!

  • At 2:27 PM , Blogger Donna Lee said...

    I love that book. Beard on Bread was the first bread book we ever bought. I think the ratio is something like 1 tablespoon of salt to 4 cups of flour in general.

    We've made the rye bread several times and it's delicious. Although, I manage to not eat the raw dough. It makes me sick. just sayin'.

    And you could make croutons with the unwanted bread. Just cut them up into squares and season them with whatever you like and then bake them slowly until they dry out.

  • At 3:00 PM , Anonymous Dave Daniels said...

    Yup, that's a whole lotta salt in my book.
    My bread, no matter how good, bad or stale, the wild life on the fire escape loves it. Humans? that's a different story.
    try making "plain" or "normal" bread first, just to get the hang of bread making again. THEN experiment with you Frankenloaves.

  • At 12:01 AM , Blogger Rose Lefebvre said...

    LOL I think we all have had cooking/baking disasters. The first(and last!) time I ever made ravioli I became tired of making the little squares, so I thought, "why not make them bigger and take less time." So I did. One thing I did not consider or know is that the dough swells...As they boiled away, I soon heard-PLOP! PLOP! PLOP! Ravioli's were swelling and falling out of the pot and plopping onto the stove top and floor! The "bigger ones" were way too big--one filled most of a plate!
    I ended up with 2 large pots (had to put 1/2 into another pot to avoid more suicide raviolis). When I served it to my husband, he looked at his plate and asked, "what the heck is this." I told him it was ravioli and he laughed and laughed...and the family story has been told at most gatherings!!!!
    He never got homemade ravioli again!!!!!!


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