The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Looking Back and Looking Forward: With Sweetness

GSnyde's picture

Looking Back and Looking Forward: With Sweetness

The Winter Solstice and the Year-End/New Year is a time for re-collecting the events of the year, and also a time for renewal and reinvention. It’s a time for tradition and a time for new things, too. A good time to look back and look forward.

Mendocino Sunrise 12-23-10


As I look back on this year, one major event was the start of my bread-baking passion in August. By chance, my sister forgot to take the sourdough starter David had brought to my house to give her. So I adopted it, and the rest is….delicious. I recall some rookie mistakes and some great bakes. No question, I’ve learned a ton … and have many tons more to learn. Looking forward, there are a thousand things I want to try: some totally new things, and some tweaks to make the tried and truer even better. The year draws to an end, with family visiting our weekend house on California’s North Coast (Mendocino County). It’s been a nice break from the usual hectic schedule. And I am baking. Some “old” favorites, and some new experiments.

Our year-end tradition is to gather with my wife’s family in our warm house while the inevitable Pacific storms rage outside. And eat and drink. A lot. We have dined on Chile Verde with Red Rice (later reprised as enchiladas), Roast Goose with stuffing from (my) old bread, Charcoal-grilled butterflied leg of lamb with bulghar pilaf and pear-pecan salad (leading to lamb sandwiches on still-warm Challah and, later, lamb curry). But you probably want to hear about the baking. With all the sweet tooth’s around, and a “we-can-diet-next-year” attitude, I baked some sugary stuff. Some new things, and some old favorites. All were very nutritious—with fruit or nuts.


Some Fruit

For dessert after the Christmas Goose, I made Apple Crostada from trailrunner’s recipe ( My first try at this a few weeks ago didn’t work out—too much liquid in the dough made it tough. This time, using only 9 Tbsp of buttermilk, the pastry was flaky, as promised. The apple filling was spiked with a shot of Pyrat Rum and quite a bit of lemon zest. It was very nice with Hagen Daz vanilla ice cream.


Thanks, Caroline. This one’s a winner!

Some Nuts

Since reading Txfarmer’s blog entry about pecan buns made with brioche dough (, I knew I was a goner. My wife and I both love nuts, sugar, cinnamon and butter. And these gooey brioche balls are as good as it gets.

I’d never made brioche dough before. I settled on Peter Reinhart’s “Middle Class Brioche” from A Bread Baker’s Apprentice. The book describes the process very well. Hand-massaging a half pound of butter into the dough was almost too sensual. It poofed up hugely in the fridge over night. And the next day, I formed 24 airy butter balls, dipped them in more butter, rolled them in cinnamon sugar, plopped them on a bed of yet more butter and pecan parts, slathered them with a paste of cinnamon sugar and—yes—even more butter, and baked them, with my nose pressed against the oven vent. The results were absolutely heavenly! Melt-in-the-mouth dough encased in cinnamon-sugar, sticky with caramel and crunchy with nuts. As we say around here, “what’s not to like?”


With the last bit of brioche dough, I made some nice muffins.


A nice healthy breakfast.


Thanks for the great buns, Txfarmer!

Some More Fruit

Many years ago, we were invited to lunch at the home of one my senior partners. His wife was quite a cook, and baker! She made very tart lemon bars. You know, the kind with short bread topped with a lemon curd. They were the best I’d ever had, and I asked her for the recipe. I used to make them fairly regularly, but it’s been years. Having gotten a bag of beautiful lemons, these lemon bars just popped back into my head and would not go away. Though they have almost as much butter as the pecan buns, they taste so fruity, they have to be good for you.


Some Bread (Still a Little Sweet)

Though the sweet things I baked all have a bit of flour in them to hold the butter together, it was time to bake bread! And we had a large quantity of leftover leg of lamb. So I baked my absolutely favorite sandwich bread—Challah. This was my second try at Glezer’s “My Challah”. And, again, it came out nicely. A couple new twists (pun intended) this time: I used Central Milling Co.’s Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft flour and filtered water from our trusty well (the higher-hydration kind of water from our very wet Winter). The malted barley in the flour may have added a bit extra crunch in the crust.


And the Challah was perfect for sandwiches of sliced lamb, sliced cucumber, and lemon-garlic-mustard sauce. I’ll leave the sheep head to Hansjoakim.


The Challah-making process is now becoming familiar, and I feel ready to try a sourdough version, and maybe one of those beautiful round braided things.

Serious Hearth Bread To Follow

In the last couple days, I have been baking a couple hearth breads. They, too, made be very happy. My report will follow in the next blog post.

Wishing that you all enjoy the sweetness of good memories. And that the new year holds more.



dmsnyder's picture

Some viruses become more virulent as they pass from host to host during an epidemic. It appears that bread baking can be added to the list.

Beautiful stuff, there!


GSnyde's picture

But I think you still have it worse (better?).  I guess this virus is among the many things we happily share.  Thanks for the starter.  And best to you and Susan for a bright new year.


LindyD's picture

My goodness, Glenn, gazing at all those lovely baked delights makes me wonder if you ever got out of the kitchen long enough to relax.  They all look enticing.

I like your reasoning that fruit and nuts make sweet dough nutritious!  I made a batch of Alton Brown's cinammon buns, topped off with a cream cheese-powdered sugar frosting, for our gathering of four families here at the lake, to share our annual New Year's celebration of playing charades and toasting in the New Year.

Maybe I should add some crushed pistachios and pass them around as a health food. :-)

Have a wonderful celebration tonight and a 2011 filled with all good things - including great bread!

GSnyde's picture

Baking is relaxing.  But we also spent many hours enjoying family, beachcombing, reading (ok, I admit, I mostly read my new copy of Hamelman's Bread), and watching movies.

Yes, brownies can be a health food if you put a sprig of mint on top.

Enjoy your New Year celebration. Sounds sweet!


trailrunner's picture

You simply take my breath away. What a wonderful testament to the power of  baking and sharing. Thank you for a lovely end to the  year 2010. I too look forward to the new year and new exploits in baking and sharing. 

We are in Lexington VA this week. Today my husband and I drove to the Blue Ridge parkway only to find it closed to car traffic due to the snow on the road. What wonderful luck that was. We walked and walked along the quiet roadway. The stillness broken at one point by a pileated head moving as he searched in a dead tree for something tasty to eat. What a joyful noise. No pics...I forgot my camera, but picture the mountains and the snow and listen to the stillness. c

GSnyde's picture

Sounds like a wonderful scene.  No need for pictures.

Thanks, again, for the wonderful Crostada recipe.  I think that crust will find its way into a meat pie soon.  

Happy New Year.



Floydm's picture

Lovely post.

Happy New Year, Glenn!

GSnyde's picture

I couldn't ask for a nicer place to blog.

Happy New year to you, too.


Franko's picture


You had me at the mention of charcoal grilled butterflied leg of lamb, but it all looks so good it's difficult to choose between the lemon bars, the cinnamon brioche, or the challa grilled lamb sandwiches. You obviously know how to eat well!

The best to you and yours in the New Year!


mimifix's picture

Thank you, Glenn, for such a well-written lovely post with pictures. (Since all humans need food to survive, then all food is healthy.)

I enjoy being part of an on-line community with other hardcore bakers. So also thank you to Floyd for making this possible.

Happy new year everyone, Mimi

belfiore's picture


What a gracious exit to 2010 and an eloquent entrance you have given to 2011. You and David have lovely, warm family traditions, baking & non-baking, and we are fortunate you choose us to share them with.

Happy New Year!


GSnyde's picture

I appreciate the nice comments.



hanseata's picture

Would you be willing to share the tart lemon bar recipe? Sounds just like something I might like.

Happy 2011 baking,


GSnyde's picture


Here you go.

“Deluxe Lemon Bars”


½ cup powdered sugar

8 oz unsalted butter (slightly softened)

2 cups flour

¼ tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Stir in flour and salt.  Mix well.  Press the mixture into an ungreased 8” x 13” baking dish (I use Pyrex).  Bake for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool 20 minutes.




4eggs beaten

1 & 3/4 cups granulated sugar

¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tsp grated lemon rind

¼ cup flour

½ tsp baking powder


Blend all ingredients and pour over baked pastry.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool.  Sift additional powdered sugar on top.  Cut into squares.  Refrigerate in sealed container.  Yummy for a week.



EvaB's picture

and the picture of the lemon bars made my mouth water, I was going to ask for the recipe but Karin beat me to it, so now have it printed off for the next time I manage to bake.

Right now am still fighting with the laminate floor, just pulled up the whole room again, and am starting over with it! It WILL go together right or else!

belfiore's picture

Oy...been there, done advice from my floor experience ~pay close attention to the expansion space at the edge of the walls...& if the instructions say you only need 1/4"...they're not telling the truth! Snap a chalk line every couple feet to help keep thing straight...when you're on your knees tapping slats together it's hard to tell if things are getting off kilter without reference lines.

@Glenn...hubby just picked a bowl of fresh lemons off the I know what I'm going to do with them!


EvaB's picture

now I can do other things!

It took an  hour to pull up the floor, 300 square feet but only 7 hours to lay it again, this time the last time it wasn't going together right and it took about 15 hours, this time it went together like it was supposed to, and much faster. Of course I didn't have to redo the underlay part so it was not fussed with so that saved some time.

The most time was the last course of boards which of course had to be split lengthwise, and each one measures as the room isn't anywhere near square on the wall that separates it from the basement space. Annoying but what you get! And this house was supposed to be built for the contractor and his wife, yeah right, I bet they said that to get a better price when the couple that owned it before us bought it, if I had been contractor wife, and he had built this junk pile for me, I would have divorced him took all his money and then quietly killed the sucker! Not one wall is plumb, or square really! The front door doesn't open or close properly, and as far as I'n concerned the only thing done half decent is the wiring, and that has some things I would have done differently. I need to win the lotto so I can have the house built right that I want, and of course it would have a marvelous kitchen.

@Toni, have you tried a Shaker Lemon Pie, they sound absolutely wonderful, I would love to have citrus in my yard, I have some in pots, but so far they haven't even bloomed, they are doing ok though, but not a single bloom and some are close to 15 years old.

belfiore's picture

Congrats, Eva on the floor success. Ours was nearly full house & glued down, so we basically had to move out of the house then move back in when it was done.

The lemon pie sounds good...will I find the recipe here on TFL?

As for your potted citrus, I'm a live nursery specialist/CA Master Gardener so if you want to send me a message we can chat about what might be holding the trees back.


EvaB's picture

just did the sealer today so now I can do the baseboards and the trim on the room and maybe be able to move stuff in soon.

As for the shaker pie, recipes, there is one on Martha, and many other recipes here and there at all the cooking sites like and I had to look for the ones I printed off, and couldn't find them at all so had to look again. They sound really delicious. So since I have some lemons, will give it a try this coming week.

I am not confident enough to try and get a message to you, but you can try my email if you want, I can find a message on here, just have no idea how to leave one first.

I could use the help, I think they really could use some fertilizer but don't know what kind, I have tomato, and coniferous readilly available, as well as some stuff for flowering stuff in gardens, but know they need more light, and water than they get in winter, although the grapefruit really took off when I transplanted it earlier this summer, and grew nicely, its looking healthy, and the tangerine I have is around 3 feet tall, just not really turning into anything but a long stick with leaves.