The last of my May bakes. I made this last weekend after the previous weekend’s success. It was easier to make by hand rather than using the mixer. It also became more clear to me that this is just a sticky recipe, and that’s okay. I made all rolls this time (no loaf), and it was great! A+ would make brioche again.
This is the same recipe that I tried previously. I did a few things differently:
- I added 1 tsp of espresso powder. Results: not a noticeable coffee flavor, but it’s possible it enriched the chocolate flavor. Would try again, but increase amount.
- Baked in a smaller pan with the goal of creating taller brownies. Results: the edge pieces were tall, but the center pieces rose and then collapsed like a cake does.
- Used an electric hand mixer instead of just manually stirring it on the stove. Results: much less sore arm.
Overall: these are still really amazing brownies and I would again recommend this as a great recipe.
It’s almost getting to the point where I feel that I’m cheating to keep including the challah bread as a bake, but as long as I continue fiddling with it and learning different things, I’m thinking it still counts as a separate bake.
This time I had a few more observations:
- Instead of measuring out yeast, I just used 2 packets of active dry yeast, which by eyeball, seemed about right. This was fine.
- I let both the first and second rise go for longer than recommended. I believe this helped ensure a complete rise and there was less rising in the oven as a result.
- I used a heavier hand to brush the top with egg, which resulted in a browner top.
- I tried a different method for braiding one of the loaves. This method, which I read about online, suggested that you divide the bread into 6 equal pieces and then roll each piece out into snakes, which you then connect and braid together. I found this to be tedious and way more fussy than my usual method, which is simply to shape a big rectangle and use kitchen scissors to cut six roughly equivalent strands. The snake method resulted in a less pretty bread as well. Not gonna use that method again probably.
- I included a slight bit more sugar than usual (less than a tablespoon extra probably) and it seemed like a good idea, still not too sweet, but a touch sweeter and tastier than previous versions.
- Finally: I’m still having issues with stickiness. I’m not sure if I’m just not using enough flour? I always end up turning out huge amounts of flour onto the kneading surface. I think next time I’m going to try just starting out with more flour in the recipe to begin with, which will hopefully avoid some of the mess and sticky dough issues.
Just working on my challah skills basically. I used the same recipe as the previous times, again doubling it so I get two cute loaves instead of just one. I’m still working on the braiding so that’s why I tried two different styles.
This time the rise seemed a little slower – not sure if it’s because I switched yeast brands, possibly. It continued rising in the oven, which is ok.
There was also a slightly weird flavor. I’m fairly sure it was from the countertop I kneaded it on, which may have had some trace soap on it. Oops! Anyway it was still good enough to eat, yay challah.
When I first wrote up my challah bread efforts, I mentioned that I was planning to make French toast but accidentally ate all of the bread instead of French toasting it oops. So I had to try again. This time I also doubled the recipe in order to help prevent accidentally eating it all. I braided the second loaf in six strands which I was worried was going to be a big mess, but actually ended up looking really cute & fancy!
French toast should be happening later today. Other notes about this recipe:
- I made sure to proof the yeast in advance and I didn’t have any issues with rising that I had had last time. Pretty sure the problem was that I made the water too hot.
- I used slightly less flour than I had the first time, which meant the dough was a little stickier? I was worried about it at first, but it seemed to bake up nicely anyway.
In honor of my new year’s baking resolutions, which included the goal to re-make things that didn’t quite work out as planned, I re-attempted the blueberry cream cheese loaf from the weekend.
To recap: this loaf was delicious, but had structural integrity problems. I attempted to solve this using four different strategies:
- I reduced the total amount of oil in the recipe from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup.
- I included NO blueberries in the bottom layer of batter. So each loaf was just one layer of plain batter, one layer of cream cheese, one layer of blueberry batter.
- I then split the recipe and half and tried two different things with each half. In one half, I replaced the frozen blueberries with freeze-dried blueberries.
- In the other half, I used frozen again, but during the “toss with flour” step, I used a sieve, and I shook the sieve a whole lot to remove all excess blue flour.
I also made a few minor changes:
- Started out with the aluminum foil tent to protect the top from over-browning; removed with 30 minutes to go.
- Baked the frozen blueberry loaf for a full 75 minutes without removing from oven.
- Very minimal stirring once blueberries were added.
- Let sit for only 2 minutes after removing from oven then remove to wire rack.
Ummm…. I think the first recipe worked better without all these modifications, y’all!
The freeze-dried blueberry version had the most structural integrity, but it was the most boring. It lost too much moisture. It didn’t taste as nice as the original recipe and I don’t think it’s worth the sacrifice.
The other version, with frozen blueberries only in the top half of the batter, tasted great! However, it lost structural integrity even WORSE, I think because when I inverted the loaf pan to remove the baked loaf, it just went SPLAT right on the weakest part of the structure. In theory, this might be work-aroundable, by lining the loaf pan carefully with foil, then removing the loaf from the top, rather than by inverting the pan. Still, it just seems like a lot of trouble for not that much gain.
In conclusion, this is still a SUPER TASTY recipe and one that I’m still pining for (I wish I had brought it with me to work). I would definitely repeat this to take as a hostess gift or just when I’m feeling like indulging. Here’s what I would do:
- Follow the original recipe for the most part, including the full 1/2 cup vegetable oil.
- Use blueberries in BOTH halves of the batter, just be careful not to over-stir.
- Use frozen blueberries & remove as much flour as possible before adding.
- Use aluminum foil tent for the majority of baking, removing 30 minutes before done.
- Bake 75 minutes.
- Let sit for a full 10 minutes after removing (or longer would probably be ok).
- Just accept that this is a messy recipe!