This project is coming up on 4 years old, and I’m a handful of recipes away from finishing the Baked Goods chapter–at least, according to the collection that I have. There’s definitely some out there that I don’t have the card for, but here’s one of the last uncovered few (#50!) that I do have: 17-2: English Rusks. 🇬🇧☕
According to Wikipedia, English rusks are hard, dry biscuits given to babies for teething or crumbled up and used as filler for ground meat. It’s actually the US version of rusks that are more familiar–they list Melba toast and biscotti as examples.
Here’s a simple whole wheat bread recipe. 17-16: Whole Wheat Baguette has “baguette” in the name, but you could use this same recipe to make buns, rolls, sandwich bread, or any other shape you prefer. This is more of a utilitarian recipe more than anything else–nothing fancy here.
Baguettes are indeed long, thin loaves of French bread (French bread being a type of dough, not a type of shape). I made short, thin individual loaves instead, which the Wikipedia article I linked to calls demi-baguettes, although mine are probably even shorter than that. I thought individually-sized ones might be an interesting experiment instead of one or two long loaves.
One of the last entries from the Baked Goods chapter, 17-10: Poppy Seed Bread is essentially white bread with a sprinkling of poppy seeds on top. Simply Delicious shows it as a loaf, but I chose to make it into rolls/buns–since you’re already topping the bread with seeds, it makes it very reminiscent of sesame seed hamburger buns. 🍔
Even 20+ years later, most mentions of poppy seeds inevitably end up referencing this Seinfeld gag, where Elaine’s love for poppy seed muffins keep causing her to test positive for opium on a work-administered drug test.
This often leads to the question: Can poppy seeds really affect a drug test? And the answer, according to the New York Times, is actually “Yes!” 🤔 You’d have to eat a LOT of them (much more than what the recipe for this bread contains) to have it show up at levels that would cause alarm–but the claim does actually have merit.
Here, we’ll cover 18-2: Basic Yeast Dough II, which includes the fundamentals of the process of bread-making, as well as some tips on how to tell where your bread may have gone wrong. I’ve been making bread for a while, and I still run into trouble–it’s nice to know what I might have messed up so that I can try to fix it for the future.
Bread making is not a quick process–sometimes you can be working on a bread for 24-48 hours between the blooming, kneading, rising, and proofing. When I was being trained to make bread in the restaurant I worked in a few years ago, we would start making bread at 8 AM, and barely be finished by dinner time around 5-6 PM.
That’s not including our starter which had to be fed every day, as well as making all of the other baked goods that our pastry chef made daily. It can be a LOT of work!
As part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017), I wanted to push my limits by attempting some of the hardest pastry recipes in the book. I tested my skills not only with 17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries, but with this recipe as well, 17-23: Mocha Éclairs. My mom always referred to éclairs as something that challenged her when she was learning to cook and bake, and that a well-executed one was something that really impressed her. With that in mind, I knew this recipe was a must-do.
I may have to make a few adjustments to Simply Delicious‘ version of the recipe–first of all, there’s no chocolate listed anywhere in this recipe, and it’s advertised as “mocha”, which is coffee AND chocolate. We may have to do something about this “slicing the tops off” idea as well.
Strap in ladies and gents, this one’s a long one. As part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017), I thought I’d raise the bar and attempt some of the harder ones in the book–nothing impresses your mother like showing her you can cook (and bake). My mom LOVES pastries, so I made her 17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries to nosh on while I worked on trying to serve up 5-4: Eggs Benedict. Luckily, these turned out better than my hollandaise sauce attempt did.
Obviously, mine look a bit different than what’s pictured on their card–we’ll get into all the decisions and pitfalls that led to that being the case after the jump.
If you’re looking for a relatively easy homemade buttermilk biscuit recipe, 17-39: Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits isn’t a bad choice. I made these once before for a dinner I made about 8 years ago. I remember thinking they were very bland as written–hence my notes written on the front and back about adding more salt. After following my own suggestions this time around, they’re much improved.
I didn’t make these for any particular dinner or reason this time around, but they still made decent snacks and accompaniments to meals throughout the week.
Finally, one from the “revisited” pile–those are recipes I’ve already made before, but am making again for the sake of this project. 5-20: Golden Cheese Tartlettes were one of the appetizers I made for a Valentine’s Day 80’s party I talked about in 1-22: Onion-Potato Diamonds–I thought these little cheese tarts seemed very 1980s.
They’re not kidding about the “fragile” part when it comes to these tartlettes–I originally made these for this project back in July of 2016, but the whole operation went so poorly that I abandoned it and never even posted about it. Now that I’ve bought the proper equipment and ingredients for it, it went much smoother.
Scones have a lot of different methods of preparation, usually depending on varying geographical interpretations. There’s even different pronunciations of the word “scone”–some rhyme it with “tone”, while others rhyme it with “gone.”
Simply Delicious‘ take, 17-11: Scones, seems to most closely adhere to the British version of scones in that they make theirs into round cakes, score them, and then break them apart into triangle shapes after baking. The North American versions tend to be individually-sized, round, and more often than not closely resemble what we refer to as biscuits.
One of my first memorable experiences with scones were at an 18th birthday tea party I attended in the last few months of senior year of high school–we had just come back from a Spring Break trip to England & Ireland, and I came to the tea party prepared with white gloves and pinkies up. They had scones with clotted cream & jam, finger sandwiches, and lots of flowery, delicate pots of tea. ☕️
Wouldn’t have been my choice for an 18th birthday party (I spent a good portion of mine in my dorm room hungover from a wild freshman-year-of-college Halloween extravaganza the night before), but it was definitely unique.
I had mentioned in 16-24: French Chocolate Cake that it was one of two desserts that I made for a recent baby shower I attended: 16-39: Apricot Tart was the second dessert. I’ve been meaning to make this thing since near the start of this project, and it only took me a few years to finally get around to it. There’s something about this recipe and procrastination, though–this entry’s been sitting in my writing queue half-finished for over a month.
For the length of time that it took me to make it (and to write about it), I never even got to try it–I ended up leaving this and 16-24: French Chocolate Cake still wrapped up on the table at the party. We’ll just assume that both of them were delicious and everyone ate every last crumb of them.