The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Busy times

pmccool's picture

Busy times

Last weekend had me going.  My work schedule gives me every other Friday off and last weekend was one of my 3-day weekends.  First up, repairing some of the heat and drought damage that my yard suffered.  Lots of weeding and raking and seeding and watering, followed by loudly protesting muscles and joints.  But it's done.  In another week or so I should be seeing new grass growing in areas that were entirely killed.

Saturday was pretty low key, given the ongoing protests mentioned earlier.  Still, I did manage to get in a batch of the NY Deli Rye from the BBA for this week's sandwiches.  Love that stuff!

Sunday afternoon, protests or no, was given over to some further test bakes in preparation for the classes that I will be teaching in a few weeks.  First I mixed up a batch of Bavarian Christmas Braid.  It's a beautiful dough, slightly sweet and redolent of mace and lemon zest.  The almonds and brandy-soaked raisins don't hurt anything, either.  The bread is made up as a small braid stacked on top of a larger braid, which makes for a very pretty loaf.  In the hands of a competent braider, it would be downright beautiful.  After coming out of the oven and cooling slightly, it is drizzled with a light glaze flavored with almond extract.  

Here is how it looked just out of the oven:

And after glazing:

Not being particularly fond of candied cherries, I elected not to garnish the loaves.

While the braid dough was fermenting, I got to work on candying some orange peel that would be needed for some stollen (currently fermenting as I write this).  I'd never done it before and was pleasantly surprised to find how simple it is.  A bit tedious, yes, but not difficult.  Since the Web is rife with instructions, I'll not duplicate them here.  However, I will share some pictures of how they turned out.

Just out of the syrup:

Starting to dredge in sugar:

And all done:

Last but not least, some savory muffins rounded out the day's baking:



isand66's picture

Beautiful looking bread.  Your students will be very lucky to have you teach them  for sure!

I hear you about your lawn...mine was attacked by crab grass and I'm waiting for a cold spell so it dies off, then my fun work starts.


pmccool's picture

I'm very much looking forward to teaching the classes.  It's always fun for me and I try to share that fun with the students.

Sorry to hear about the crab grass.  My side yard is being invaded by zoysia or something similar from my neighbor's yard.  Sort of a legalized version of crab grass, if you ask me.  The KC area really took it on the chin this summer with drought and high temperatures.  Way too many days with no rain and temperatures above 100F.


Floydm's picture

Looks great, Paul.  

I've been grabbing treats from the Vancouver Community College culinary school and they too have been practicing their holiday recipes.  It is a bit odd to be snacking on stollen and hot cross buns in September, but I won't complain too much about it.  Everything I've had has been delicious.


pmccool's picture

It is a bit early for those holiday breads but I need to double-check the formulae before teaching from them.  You should see some of the mark-ups!  Can't knock the flavors, though.


Janetcook's picture


I am impressed by the variety of items you baked and impressed by the double braided loaf.  Looks very nice to me.

I made candied orange peel last winter too and was also surprised by how simple it is.  Don't need much in a recipe so I still have lots in the refrig. and it is still good!

Our yard is not much to look at these days either.  I contemplated planting more grass but decided against it until the spring in case we get a dry winter again.  I am not one for dragging hoses out of storage in the middle of winter to water.....actually, I don't like dragging hoses around at any time of the year :-)  My main goal today was to attack the bind weed that has decided it rules in my front garden.......After 2 1/2 hours there is none to be seen - what a sight to behold.  I know it will launch a new attack come spring but, at least for now, my other plants can rest from its relentless climbing ways.  Nice to put things in somewhat of an order before winter.

Thanks for the post and photos of all of your hard work.  Good luck with your classes.  Your students are in for a treat :-).

Take Care,


pmccool's picture

If it looks good to you, then I'll call it good, too.  In all honesty, it wasn't me who was responsible for the braids in our daughters' hair when they were little.

I have a feeling that the orange peel won't last as long as its theoretical shelf life.  It's just too good to let it sit around.  You are right about the simplicity.

Weeds!  In Spring, it's chickweed.  This time of year it's red spurge.  And in between it's dandelions and thistles popping up in the oddest places, with henbit insinuating itself wherever it can.  And crabgrass that laughs at pre-emergent treatments.  Oddly enough, the hostas that usually threaten to escape the flower beds and establish beachheads in the lawn were completely cowed by the heat and drought this year.


dabrownman's picture

Your students will be hard pressed to match any of those beauty.  Nice baking Paul.  I bought winterizer for my grass today that has a ton of weed killer in it.  Too lazy to put it on today but perhaps tomorrow.  Our friends in KCMO had their entire yard burn up from the heat and then it actually caught fire.  Very strange for lawns this year all around. Thankfully, baking is still a fruitful endeavor.

Enjoy your classes.  Looking at these selections your students are in for a surprise.

pmccool's picture

I know I lost less of my lawn than some of my neighbors (and I have the water bills to show for it) but it still took a beating.  Thankfully, mine didn't self-combust.  You'll have to stop in for a visit the next time you are back in the KC area.

Enjoying the classes is a slam-dunk for me.  I just want to transmit that same enthusiasm to the students.  With any luck, they will soon be able to exceed their teacher.


M2's picture

and candied orange peel!  Making stollen is on my want-to-do list, but I always miss the timeline (it doesn't kick into my memory till December...but then it would be too late to make it).  So thank you for sharing your work.  Now I should start getting my act together!


pmccool's picture

And you are welcome for the tickler.  Be sure to post some pictures of your stollen, please.