Round-up: Unfortunate Loaves, Cinnamon Snails, and a fun Bread Baking Class

pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip bread

cinnamon snails

baking class bread sticks

Unfortunate loaves, indeed. I’ll spare you the step-by-step on the baking, since it did not lead to deliciousness. The Low Fat Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread (pictured above) earned its low fat title, which means that you’d have to explain that it was low fat to get people to like it. Without the chocolate chips there would have been no flavor whatsoever. I’m starting to think that pumpkin and oats were never meant to be together.

As for the Crumb-Topped Banana Bread, the only thing I liked about it was the crumb topping, which makes sense considering it was mostly brown sugar and cinnamon chips. What’s not to like about that? The bread itself was flavored exclusively with honey, which I thought would be nice, but alas, it wasn’t.

I had fun making cinnamon snails, though! The kids had a day off school and wanted something fun for breakfast, and I wanted to improve my cinnamon snail technique. The key,was to use a rolling pin to flatten out the bread, and to cut off the crusts.

bread and rolling pin

bread, flattened, with crust removed

I spread cream cheese on them, and rolled them up.

cream cheese, spread

bread, flattened, with crust removed

And sliced.

rolled and sliced

Now for the good stuff: melted butter and cinnamon.

melted butter and cinnamon

I dipped them in butter, rolled them in cinnamon-sugar, and placed them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

cinnamon snails on cookie sheet

They went straight into the oven, and came out looking pretty much the same as they did when they went in, but toastier.

cinnamon snails, baked

cinnamon snails, baked

Fun! The kids gobbled them up and thanked me about a million times.

Also fun: the bread baking class! I couldn’t have been expected to resist such a thing, since it was a King Arthur Flour-sponsored class at Sur La Table. I have an unhealthy obsession with the King Arthur Flour company, and I love those classes at Sur La Table, with their gigantic kitchens, five-minute dishwashers, and super friendly chef-teachers.

friendly chef at sur la table

This class was sort of funny. They divided us into groups of four, and one of the people in my group seemed to know everything about bread-making already. She kept plunging on ahead, doing what she knew needed to be done, with nothing but impatience for the two of us who hadn’t accompanied her. She had a friend with her who was a bit jollier than she was, which was easy as she was pretty stern. I tried my usual trick of responding to her as if everything she said was warm, friendly, and inviting, which made things more fun. Her disapproving glare bounced right off of me.  The fourth member of our group was a lovely Frenchwoman (I presume, since her name was Veronique), and she and I got along well.

It was my first time using the dough hook on a stand mixer.

dough hook in use

And every time I tried to grab a shot of the first loaf of bread we were making, the high-strung I-knew-how-to-do-this-before-I-got-here woman had her hands on it, adding more flour, patting it, and just generally staking her expert claim.

stop touching my bread

I thought I was going to have to pry it out of her cold, dead hands to get a photo, but my friendly Frenchwoman intervened so I could get my shot.

bread dough, not being touched

We folded the dough underneath to get that roundness. I was surprised by how light and airy it was, but I guess when the only ingredients are flour, water, and yeast, there isn’t a whole lot to weigh it down.

While those were set aside to rise, we started in on the mini baguettes.  We patted down the dough a bit before kneading and shaping it.

my hand on baguette dough

Once ready, we rolled the dough into baguettes, rolling and shaping, rolling and shaping.

baguette dough, formed

And in the meantime, our original loaves were ready for baking, but first they had to be scored.

loaf, ready to be scored

loaf getting scored

They got brushed with milk before heading into the oven.  I think I would have enjoyed doing that part, but the kitchen assistants did it.

bread dough, getting brushed with milk

Then back to the baguettes! We used a rolling pin to stabilize a dishtowel, and then placed them in rows so they could rise.  The bread expert in my group seemed a little resentful that mine didn’t look as beautiful as hers. I smiled happily at her as I added it to our towel.

baguettes, lined up

Look how big they got! Eventually they rose enough for us to score them and put them in the oven. It was a bit tricky getting them off the towel, but we managed it without too much handling.

baguettes, risen

They baked beautifully, didn’t they?

baguettes, baked

Oh, and you know what we did while the dough was rising, and we were waiting? We made bread sticks! This was more like my play-doh memories from my childhood, making long thin cylinders, and then we tried all kinds of different spices on them. The assistants actually grabbed our tray and put it in the oven before I had a chance to get a picture, so one of the other groups kindly offered their tray up for photography purposes. Pretend it’s mine. Shhh.

bread sticks on baking tray

Nice, right? A little oil, some spices, some herbs, everyone tried something different.

And then the loaves were ready. Beautiful.

loaves, baked

So of course, we made flavored butter to go with them. Basically we just chopped up a whole bunch of fresh herbs and then smooshed and squished it into the butter. Apparently my herb-chopping skills didn’t quite measure up, so the tall guy took over while I handled the butter-smooshing.

smooshed flavored butter

I’ll be honest, while I loved that flavored butter, the bread was absolutely delicious with nothing on it. I know, people think I’m nuts. I love fresh baked bread with nothing on it, I love baked potatoes plain, so I can taste potato and nothing else, and I feel the same way about corn on the cob. So maybe you’d want the butter, or the dipping oil, but me, I’m happy with a nice big hunka fresh bread.

baguettes, sliced

bread hunks

And the bread sticks were ready, too.

bread sticks

And that, my friends, was that.

I had fun, despite my type A team member.  I stuffed myself with bread and packed up the leftovers. The teacher, who was wonderful, seemed to think he was doing us a favor by ending the class early, but I would have happily stayed another hour or two to bake more. I don’t feel ready to take on bread-baking at home, exactly, but I got a handle on kneading, which is a good start.  And I tested two new quick bread recipes that weren’t very good, and I am ready to teach Advanced Cinnamon Snails.  I celebrate my accomplishments where I can.

Over and out.

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