Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mistakes O' Plenty - More Yeast Disasters

My mom was reminiscing about a delicious bread my aunt used to make - Cardamom Bread. She spoke of a sweet, soft white bread with hints of cardamom. I had to have some. Mom found her recipe and made a copy of it for me. The recipe card was dated 11/29/80. I love it when people date their recipes. I love sweet bread. I love trying new recipes. I love to battle with yeast in an attempt to win. I would love to win.

Of course, I started off on the wrong foot whilst assembling the dough. The recipe made a whopping 4 loaves. I don't have that many bread pans. As you can see, I'm pulling together all that I've got. I would HIGHLY suggest that you bakers at home use baking pans that are all the same. What a convenience! All of the bread done at the same time with little guessing! Genius! Anyways, I halved all of the ingredients except for the amount of warm water used to dissolve the yeast. So that required me to throw in more flour. Blah! Despite that little mishap, the dough - FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY HISTORY OF BREAD MAKING - was the perfect constancy. I had an Aha! moment with a side of hope.

Mistake #2. This is what happens when you forget that you have dough proofing in the oven with no window.

Solution: punch down again, form into loaves again, wait for it to double in volume again. Blah! again. I went ahead and brushed the egg white and sprinkled on the sugar before they proofed. I was afraid that I would brush them too hard and they'd shrink. No thank you.

Aha! Another glimmer of hope! Now at this point, I had a plan. "Sarah, you have a bad habit of burning your bread," I sez to myself, "Why don't you cover them with foil during mid bake?" "Brilliant, self!" Hugs and high-fives all myself.

"WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!" was the noise I made as I pulled this abomination from the oven MID bake, mind you, MID BAKE!

To make matters worse, when I had to reform the over risen loaves, I neglected to re-grease the bread pans. So instead of sliding out with cooperation, I pried and pulled and persuaded. Ugly on the top. Ugly on the bottom. Sigh.

After I invited Edward Scissorhands over for a little help, the bread began to resemble bread again. There's a lesson in all of this: read instructions thoroughly; if halving a recipe, cut ALL of the ingredients in half; have an oven with a light and a window; lower the racks in the oven or protect the precious loaves with foil; even though an exterior can be tough and ugly, the interior can be soft and warm.
I delivered my mangled bread to many folks in my family. Everyone welcomed the chewy, sweet deliciousness. They're enjoying there's toasted and smeared with butter.
(Adapted from) Aunt Jean’s Cardamom Bread

In a sauce pan, combine 2 cups of milk, 8 Tbsp. (a stick) of butter, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 1/3 cups of sugar. Place on low heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Take off of heat and let cool to room temp.
While milk is cooling, dissolve 2 ¼ tsp. of active dry yeast (one single packet or even a yeast cake will do) in ½ cup of warm water.
Combine slightly warm milk and yeast-y water in a large mixing bowl. Add one egg yolk (egg white reserved) - slightly beaten, 1 tsp. ground cardamom OR 3 tsp. of crushed cardamom seeds, and 1 tsp. salt. Mix until combined.
Add 2 cups of flour to batter and mix until just combined. Add 1 cup of raisins, mix until incorporated. Now, time to estimate! Add enough flour so that a workable dough is formed. Dough should be stiff and slightly sticky. If you are using a stand mixer, knead with a dough hook for 3 minutes on med-high speed. If you are working by hand, knead the dough for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
Place dough in a well greased bowl – covered with plastic wrap or a warm, damp tea towel. Let rise until doubled in volume. Keep in a warm place.
After dough has risen, punch down, cut in half, and form into two loaves. Place in well greased bread pans, cover, and let rise until double in volume again.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Gently brush tops of loaves with reserved egg white and sprinkle with a light layer of sugar.
Bake for 35-50 minutes or until loaves are brown on top and pulling away from their pans.
Turn out onto cooling racks and let cool completely before slicing.


  1. Oh, you made me laugh. Does that count for something?

  2. Me too! That HAS to count for something!