Why BAKE Bread When You Can PLAIT Bread!

Honestly, I’m not good with bread.  I know lots of people who can make it, but each time I try, I find fault with it.  I’ve no instincts about mixing, kneading, rising, or anything.  I mean, my bread is edible, but it’s nothing to write home about.

So, in the interest of having fresh bread in my apartment, I bought a bread maker.  The transaction was simple enough – I just had to:

  • search for a good bread maker on sale
  • purchase said bread maker
  • once home, realize that the guide for the bread maker doesn’t include simple recipes
  • search the interwebs for a basic white bread recipe
  • fail to realize that the recipe is for a bigger bread maker until you see it mushroom over the top
  • get your sister to send along her recipes for a bread maker
  • realize that you don’t like the shape of the bread pan, so figure out the dough-making setting
  • make more bread, because you live for trial and error


Now let’s go back to a few days ago.  The conversation in my head went like this:

  • 8am: I’m low on bread.  I should make some when I get home from work
  • 5pm:  Why don’t I do a plaited* loaf?  I bet there are instructions online!
  • 8pm:  Is it going to rise more?  Will I be able to use this loaf for sandwiches?  My whole reason for making bread was to make sandwiches.
  • 10pm:  This bread is Bake-Off worthy!

If you ask me, it turned out pretty darn good – which is amazing considering that I lost track of how much flour I was putting into the pan, and had to keep checking on it to make sure it wasn’t too doughy or too stiff**.

I went with 3 different recipes – one bread recipe, one instructional on plaiting, and one on baking the loaf.  The bread recipe was a basic white that wasn’t intended for the bread-machine, but I layered the ingredients the proper way and it all worked out.

The plaiting instructions said that the dough should have time to rest as you’re plaiting it, but I didn’t want the strands to rise too much on their own, so I went faster than the recipe instructed.  Trying to stretch the dough into strands was more difficult than I thought it would be – I was worried I’d tear the dough, but when I tried to roll it, it wouldn’t roll. Somehow I managed to get 4 strands each about 15″ long.

The baking recipe said to let the bread rise on a baking sheet, and it said nothing about covering it with plastic.  My instincts said that should I cover it with plastic, but I held back, and it rose pretty well.

When I sliced into it I was worried that the bread would break apart, but it was only difficult for the first few cuts.  The middle pieces were bound together better than the end pieces, so they’ve been easier to cut.  It probably helps that the bread has been sitting for a few days.


White Bread:

  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4g yeast

Once the dough setting is finished, take bread out and let rest for a few seconds.  Then, separate the dough into 4 equal parts.  Roll the parts out into strands (the longer the strand, the thinner the bread will be).  Then plait the dough.  The 4-strand recipe I used came from this website: How To Braid Bread.  Try to make the plaits tight, so that the bread with bind together easier.


Once that was done, I switched to this recipe: 8-Strand Plaited Loaf.  I let the loaf sit on a floured baking sheet for an hour to rise, then bushed with a beaten egg (if you want your loaf to look great and have a shiny brown top, don’t skip this step).  Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.  Once removed from the oven, tap the bottom to see if it sounds hollow – if so, it’s baked!  Go you!


*I’ve already been informed by a friend that in Canada we call it Braided Bread, but I’m learned about this on British TV, so I can’t stop calling it Plaited Bread.

**Next time I make bread I’m going to pre-measure my ingredients.  It worked out this time, but next time I might not be so lucky…




Question: What do you do with left-over pastry?

Answer: Make quiche, of course!

I had some left over pastry* from my Pi-Pie, so I figured that I should use it before it became un-useable (however long that is). I wasn’t in the mood to make another pie, so I thought “Why not make some quiche?” I had eggs, I had cheese, I had bacon… I didn’t have much else, but that would do.

I eyeballed that there should be enough pastry for about 4 mini-quiches, which would give me 4 meals**, so I cut the pastry in 4 pieces and went about rolling it. Now, I’m not that good at rolling really nice circular pastry, but I’ve decided that quiche doesn’t have to be neat.

Therein lies the difference between baking and cooking. For me, baking means being really precise about how much stuff I put in, while cooking is more flying by the seat of my pants. With baking I take meticulous notes, but cooking is just me throwing things in the pot/pan until it tastes good.

A good example of my cooking method is how I made these quiches. I only have 2 small tins, so I could only make 2 at one time. I got out two eggs, beat them up a little, added some pepper and cream, and then the cheese and bacon. I divided the mixture between the tins, trying to keep the division of bacon & cheese equal. The tins looked a little under-filled, so I added more cream of course.

I set the oven to 350F and put them in for 20 minutes. After that I glanced at them and saw that they still wobbled, so I left them in for another 10 minutes. That seemed to do the trick.

For my second batch I mixed up the eggs, pepper, and cream, and then divided it into the tins. Then I added the bacon and cheese, to ensure that each quiche had enough. When mixing it all together, I had to be careful not to pierce the pastry, but it only needed gentle mixing. Then, based on the previous quiches, I put it in the oven for 30 minutes. Et voila!

And that’s how I make quiche. I really liked the taste of the pastry, so I consider that recipe a winner. Also, I made my co-workers very jealous of my lunch***, so double win!

As long as it tastes good, it doesn’t have to look good.

*Actually, I think I made the full recipe of pastry that time, but only used half of it to see if I could get away with using only half of it. Thus, left-over pastry.

**I’ve started meal-planning lately and it’s working out really well, since I don’t mind eating the same thing for lunch 3-4 days in a row.

***We keep trying to out-do each other with our delicious foods. It’s quite fun.

Homemade Bread

I seem to be in a ‘make all the things I never wanted to make before’ mood these days.  Pies, tarts, bread…  What’s next?  (Oh man, it’s choux pastry, isn’t it? I’m not ready yet! I need more time!)

I was getting frustrated with having to walk to the grocery story for bread – bread which I could make myself if I bothered!  I don’t live near a grocery store, and I always squish the bread on the way home, so this was truely in my best interest.

I also have memories of when my mother used to bake bread.  She would make it in a large white plastic bowl & cover it and put it in the dining room to rise.  And she would always make small buns for my sister and I, so that we had something fresh to eat out of the oven.

Plus, homemade bread tastes better for some strange reason.

I found the recipe online, and it looked simple enough so I thought it’d give it a try.  I’m all about the simple, as you probably know by now.

The first issue I came up against was when it was time to incorporate the flour.  I always have this problem, even with pizza dough.  Bread is not my strong suit.  I tried to mix all the dough in the bowl by stirring, but I think I might have to use my hands more, and possibly do some of the flour-incorporation on the counter.  Notes for next time!

My second issue was that I thought I had 2 bread tins, but I didn’t*.  I only had 1 regular loaf tin, and two mini loaf tins.

Always check your equipment before you bake.  Ingredients, time, & equipment.  Be prepared!

After filling the big and both small tins, I still had dough left over.  So what’s a Newfoundlander** to do?  You guess it – TOUTONS!


I’m not going to lie to you – this was my first time frying toutons (because bread).  There was no recipe***, so I was flying by the seat of my pants.  I wasn’t sure if I had to make them into shapes and let them rise again, but I did it just to be sure.  They were a bit thick and I think I had the heat in the pan too high, but in the end it’s just salty, fried dough.  I also need to buy some molasses for future attempts…

Back to the bread – which I think turned out pretty well, all things considered.  I could see a few flour-spots (where the flour hadn’t fully incorporated), but the loaves made a hollow sound when I tapped them on the bottom.  I took the small loaves out a few minutes before the big loaf, but I think I’m safe to leave them for the full time.

I can’t rotate the picture for some reason.  (*shakes fist at technology but that doesn’t solve the problem at all*)

Once the buns are out of the oven you can brush some butter on top to give them that shiny, greasy look, or you can not.

Not quite perfect, but good enough for a first attempt.  Also, homemade bread = yum!

*the recipe is for 2 loaves, which is great for a single person who doesn’t want to be drowned in bread

**I haven’t lived in Newfoundland for years, but I was born & raised there.  You can take the girl out of Newfoundland, but you can’t take the Newfoundland out of the girl.

***I didn’t even stop to look up a recipe online. What was I thinking?!

Rhubarb-Vanilla Pie

I went 33 years without ever making a pie. I prefer cakes and cupcakes anyway, so why bother? With pies you have to make pastry for the top and bottom, and you’ve got to make the middle part. There’s so much that can go wrong!*

But I figured that I would never be marriage material if I couldn’t knock out a pie every once in a while.

Just kidding! Being single means more pie for me!

I decided to make a rhubarb-vanilla pie because I had a recipe for it**. I also had really delicious Mexican vanilla extract, which had been a gift from a friend who went to Mexico (it has real vanilla pods inside).

I tried to make my pastry in my little food processor, but it was too small and I had to keep scraping the sides. I think I could do half the recipe without problem.  Then again, Paul Hollywood recommends making pastry with your hands so you know the feel of it…

I used less rhubarb (because they sell it in bags of 600g instead of 750g, and I couldn’t be bothered to purchase an additional bag, let alone measure it), but I didn’t think to change the amount of sugar or vanilla. This cut back on the tartness of the rhubarb, so not a big deal.

Also, making this filling is probably similar to how you make jam, so I could probably make jam! Oh yeah, I’m totally marriage material now!


Side note: if this is your first time working with pastry DON’T GO FOR THE LATTICE!  No matter how easy the recipe makes it looks it will not be that easy! The filling will stick to the pastry and the strips will tear! Lattice-weavers, I tip my hat to you.

Thankfully I had some left-over pastry so that I could cut out small stars to cover over the breaks in the lattice. When in doubt, try to hide your mistakes.  And it worked!  I even had someone compliment on how pretty the stars looked.

I must have showed them a different picture…

You may notice the strange edging around the pie.  This is because my plate was too big and I didn’t have enough filling to take it to the top.  So instead of a horizontal edge I had to have a vertical edge.  Would the extra 150g of rhubarb have made a different?  Who knows.

The crust was okay (I made a note to add more sugar next time), but the filling was pretty great. In all, I thought it was a very successful first attempt at pie making.

As long as it’s edible it’s a win!

*let’s not even bring up soggy bottoms.

**which had been cut out of a magazine and taped into a recipe book and ignored for years.

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart

It started with watching too much Great British Bake Off.


I like to have something playing in the background while I cook and do dishes, and, well, Series 6 was fun and it had been a while since I’d watched Series 2. As a Canadian I probably shouldn’t be this in love with the program, but I adore baking and shows with contestants who aren’t douchecanoes*.

It was after watching the last half of Series 6 and the first 5 episodes of Series 2 that I decided I was up for the challenge of making a Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart.

The recipe had been torn out of a magazine, taped in a cooking book, and ignored for a few years**. However, since I was now able to make pie (something I only attempted after many years of avoiding it like the plague) I figured I was up to making a tart. The ingredients weren’t anything crazy, and it didn’t require me buying some weird ingredient that I would never use again and would sit in my fridge until way past it’s due date.

I almost recanted, but once you’ve make the crust there’s no going back. There’s no point in letting a crust go to waste, so you might as well make the toppings. The crust was a bit crumbly, so I went outside of the recipe and added a bit of cold water to it to make it more pliable. Pressing it into a pan was another matter, but I figured that nobody was going to see all those finger-shaped indents anyway.

Also, I’ve never blind-baked anything. I didn’t have any of those bean-things that they use in the show. I did have a bit of rice from a failed attempt to make brown-rice-tea, so I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to bake that.  I didn’t have a lot of rice, but at least I tried. Did it work? Well, nothing exploded, so I consider that a win.

The caramel was the funnest part***. At one point I found myself thinking “I’m making caramel from scratch. What the hell is wrong with me?”. I did this as I was watching GBBO S2E6 (aka the Croquembouche episode). I was stirring the water and sugar to make sure that the sugar was dissolved, but it wasn’t turning a light amber like the recipe said it would. Then I heard Paul and Mary tell Mary-Anne that her caramel had crystallized because she had stirred it. I immediately put down the spoon.

In my defence, the recipe didn’t say to not stir it.  It didn’t say anything about stirring – for or against.  How was a non-caramel-maker to know?

My second caramel faux-pas happened when I was supposed to add the cream and salt. I took the caramel off the damper (so that it wouldn’t burn), but then it started to thicken up, so I had to put it back on the damper (which had been turned off but still had heat) and hope that it would melt again.  It did.

See – don’t forget your pencil!  That recipe now has very specific instructions regarding caramel written in.

Then it was time to make the chocolate part. This was quite uneventful after the caramel-drama. If I had to go back, I would not include salt in the chocolate part, because there was more than enough in the caramel for the whole thing. Then again, maybe I was supposed to use chunky salt instead of ground salt…

Chunky salt would definitely photograph better, but look at the chocolate shine!

The recipe said to fridge it for 2 hours before serving, but I’d give it at least a day. The day-later piece tasted less salty than the 2-hour-later piece.

I also made a note about putting less cream in the caramel. That stuff, while delicious, barely set. When I cut a piece the caramel oozed out and threatened to overflow from the tray. My solution was the prop one side up so that the caramel oozed back towards the tart. It’s been in the fridge for days and it’s still oozing. Caramel is a tricky mistress.

Looks just like the picture, eh?

Also maybe I’d use milk chocolate instead of 70% dark chocolate, but that’s purely a personal preference.

Now it’s time to put away the GBBO before I decide to do something even more mental, like attempt choux pastry.

*they help each other whenever someone needs an extra hand!

**that’s how I roll.

***no it wasn’t.