Sunday, 28 February 2010

Aloo Paratha (Stuffed Flatbread): HBinFive

Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old…

For some reason, that nursery rhyme pops into my head every time I think about this Aloo Paratha. I suppose it’s because it’s stuffed with a mixture of peas, potatoes and curry.  I even had my boyfriend singing the rhyme the other night while I was making it.  We were quite the pair.

This is another bread I almost didn’t make. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I had all the ingredients and I had even made the ghee, but I just wasn’t in the mood the night I planned to make it. However, I had invited my boyfriend over for dinner and he thought the Aloo Paratha sounded really good so I made it anyway.  I’m glad I did.  We both enjoyed it!

This version of Aloo Paratha is made using the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes 100% Whole Wheat Olive Oil Bread dough.

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Making ghee (clarified butter)

Aloo Paratha uses ghee (instead of butter) which I thought might be hard to find until I learned how easy it is to make. Ghee is basically just clarified butter. To make it, just heat unsalted butter until it melts, bring it to a boil and cook until it is frothy.  Then cook it gently until the milk solids float to the bottom of the pan.  Strain it, cool completely, then put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.  It will last for a month in the refrigerator. 


Making the Aloo Paratha

I had already weighed out the dough a couple of days earlier when I made the 100% whole wheat with olive oil bread so I just took out the remaining piece and formed it into a ball.

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Then, I used my palms and the rolling pin to get the dough rolled out to about 1/8-inch thick.  I also put it on a greased piece of parchment so it would be easier to work with and transfer to the baking stone. 

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Then I spread the mixture of mashed potatoes, curry, ghee, neutral-flavored oil and peas on one side.  I used frozen peas and didn’t even have to thaw them.  I thought it might make it too watery but it didn’t. I kind of spread it over more than half, but it was ok.

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Then I brushed the outside edges with water and folded the other half over and sealed it by pinching it closed with my fingertips.

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Then, I brushed the top with more ghee and sprinkled on more curry.

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Using a serrated knife, I cut 3 slits in the top crust, all the way through the top layer of dough.

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Then I slid it onto the baking stone (in the preheated oven) with the steam pan underneath.

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And, baked it for about 35 minutes, until it was golden brown. 

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Here it is.  I think it’s kind of neat with the mashed potato mixture peeping out from under the slits.

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It turned out a little bit crunchy on the outside which I liked because if offset the soft inside.  My boyfriend and I were very pleased with this bread.  We really liked the flavor.  It was filling as well.  It wasn’t too filling, but we didn’t need anything else with it and we only ate half of it.

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I really liked this version of Aloo Paratha.  It had a wonderful flavor.  However, I’ve never had this before so I would like to try an authentic version.  It just so happens that one of the other bakers in the HBinFive group is from India and she has a more traditional version of Aloo Paratha, on her blog My Diverse Kitchen.  I’ll have to try that one.  It sounds really good.

Thanks for joining us in the bread-baking blog.  Look for more breads from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes Baking Group.

About the HBinFive Baking Group

The HBinFive Baking Group, started by Michelle of Big Black Dogs, is baking through all of the breads in the  Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book. For more information on the new HBinFive baking group, check out Michelle's blog.



Happy Baking!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Bread with Home-Milled Flour: HBinFive

For the March 1st Bread Braid, our mission was to make several different types of breads using the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes 100% Whole Wheat Olive Oil Dough: 1 loaf of 100% Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil; 1 loaf of Aloo Paratha; and Whole Wheat BBQ Pizza.

Due to my busy schedule the past couple of weeks, particularly with baking 27 breads for the STIR IT 28 Atlanta Event last weekend, I had to wait until the last minute to make the breads for the bread braid.  I’ll be honest, I almost blew this one off.  I was so exhausted at the beginning of the week, I didn’t want to think about bread much less make any for awhile. Plus, I kept doing stupid things like dropping a whole pan of taco meat on the floor while I was trying to put it away.  But, that’s a story for another day…

My bread-baking reprieve didn’t last very long – two days to be exact.  By Wednesday, I was having withdrawals.  So, I decided to make a half batch of the whole wheat with olive oil dough.

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil
You can find the recipe here.

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I’ve been doing some more research on home-milling and using different types of grains.  According to my new book (Flour Power: A Guide to Modern Home Grain Milling by Marietta F. Basey), hard red spring wheat has a higher protein content than hard red winter wheat due to the shorter growing cycle, but hard red winter wheat has a better flavor due to the longer growing season (they are both harvested in the summer) so I decided to use a mixture of both.

I used 1 cup of flour made from hard red winter wheat, 1 cup of flour made from hard red spring wheat and 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour I got from the farmer’s market.  I used more of the farmer’s market flour mainly because I didn’t have enough home-milled flour to make the 3 1/2 cups.  The flour from the farmer’s market didn’t specify the type of wheat (only that it was Kansas wheat), but I’m pretty sure it was red winter wheat. 
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The home-milled whole wheat flour had also been sifted once to separate the bran and germ.  The resulting flour is called clear flour. Clear flour still retains some of the finer bran fiber from the outer endosperm of the wheat berry and is thus coarser and contains higher levels of ash.  We used this technique in the BBA Challenge for the Marbled Rye Bread. It is usually made from very high-protein wheat and is used for whole-grain and high-fiber breads.

I made up the dough and let it ferment on the counter for a few hours.  However, I didn’t put it in the refrigerator for the overnight retard.  The consistency of the dough looked, smelled and felt so good, I decided to go ahead and bake part of it.

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I weighed out two portions.  Each piece weighed slightly under a pound, but it was close enough. I used one piece for this bread and saved the other one for the Aloo Paratha.

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I shaped the dough into a ball and let it rest for a couple of minutes.  Then I shaped the ball into an elongated oval, placed it on parchment paper, and let the dough rest on the counter for about 90 minutes.  Right before baking, I made three slashes in the loaf using a serrated knife.

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Then, I sprayed the loaf with water and sprinkled a mixture of seeds on top. After that, I sprayed the loaf with spray oil to try and keep all (some) of the seeds from falling off.

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Then, I placed it on the baking stone with a steam pan underneath and baked it for about 30 minutes.  It had good oven spring.

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Here is the finished loaf.

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I really liked this bread.  It was very flavorful, not dense at all. It tasted really good as a PB&J.  As I’ve mentioned before, my test of whether a bread is good or not is if it tastes good with PB&J or at least with peanut butter. This one passed the test with flying colors.

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I loved the flavor of this bread. It’s one of my favorites so far.  I think part of it is because of the flour I used.  It was fresh and had a wonderful flavor. All I know is that I’ll definitely be making this bread again and using this flour mixture.

Thanks for joining me in the bread-baking blog.  I’ll discuss the other two breads next time. Check out Michelle's blog on March 1st to see what everyone else baked with this dough.

About the HBinFive Baking Group
The HBinFive Baking Group, started by Michelle of Big Black Dogs, is baking through all of the breads in the  Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book. For more information on the new HBinFive baking group, check out Michelle's blog.

Happy Baking!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

STIR IT 28 – Food Bloggers join together to benefit Haiti!

On Sunday, February 21st, Chefs, Restaurants and Food Bloggers came together to raise money for the people of Haiti.  The event was held in 4 cities across the nation – Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Manhattan.  The Atlanta event was fabulous!  The food was great, the atmosphere electric and the people were wonderful! 


Stir It 28 - Atlanta

What is STIR IT 28?

STIR IT 28 is 3-part fund-raising effort to help in the relief of Haiti's devastating earthquake. 3 food bloggers came together to bring awareness and raise money for the island! 100% OF MONEY RAISED GOES DIRECTLY TO SHARE OUR STRENGTH AND YELE HAITI!


Baking Breads for STIR It 28 – Atlanta

I had the privilege of baking breads for the Atlanta event. I decided to make some of my favorite breads.  I practiced all week to make sure they were just right. I baked 27 loaves of bread last week – 19 for the event. Whew! Now I know what it would feel like to run a bakery. Well, not really! 

It involved a lot of bread-baking, but it was an honor to participate in such a wonderful event. The funniest part to me was that time after time, visitors to my table would ask me where my storefront (bakery) was and how much I sold my bread for. My response was that I didn’t normally sell my breads, I was just participating in the event to support this worthy cause. They just looked at me funny so maybe I should rethink the idea of selling my breads - or, not!

This one guy kept coming up to my table and asking me how much I sold my breads for.  It made my night, so I ended up giving him some of the Potato Rosemary Dinner Rolls to take home at the end of the evening.


This is a photo of my table before the event started. My stash of breads is on the ledge behind the table.

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Here are the breads I brought with me (from left to right) Potato Rosemary, Whole Wheat with herbs (made with HBinFive Master dough), and Pane Siciliano. In the back left is Cranberry Walnut Celebration bread and on the right side hidden under a cloth are the Potato Rosemary Dinner Rolls.  I also served fruit and cheese, homemade Festive Marmalade and Citrus Marmalade and some oil and spices for dipping.

On to the event…

Mark, from took some wonderful photos that captured the essence and spirit of the event. He graciously allowed us to download some of the photos to share with our visitors.  His photos look better than mine so I decided to use them.

This is one of my favorite photos. It’s such a great shot!  Everyone was enjoying the music.


Now, on to the food!

Here is my table during the event. I never knew my breads could look so good! That’s thanks to Mark, of course.


That’s the Pane Siciliano in the foreground of the photo. It’s one of my favorite breads from the BBA Challenge

It tastes really good with homemade Festive Marmalade and Citrus Marmalade.  Just ask the nice lady sitting down in the photo. She tried some of the Pane Siciliano with the Festive Marmalade and loved it!  Or, so she said.  She and her boyfriend were there representing Montaluce Winery.


Montaluce Winery donated some wonderful wine for the event.  They are located in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains and I can’t wait to go for a tour soon. Lovely and very generous folks!



In the photo below, is Christina of (left), Bren Herrera of (middle), and Christina’s friend (right).  Bren was the host extraordinaire of the Atlanta event and part of the trio, along with Chrystal at The Duo Dishes and Courtney at Coco Cooks, that put together STIR IT 28.  She did a fabulous job!  Thank you Bren!



Christina had the table right beside me and showcased some of the most wonderful-looking and tasty sweets. Every part was edible.  I sampled some of the chocolate cakes below and they were scrumptious.  My eyes went cross-eyed when I tasted one, it was so good!



Both of our tables were near the front door so as everyone entered, they would take a look at Christina’s table of sweets, then at my table of breads and just shake their heads because they couldn’t decide what to choose.  Most of them came back for some of each – probably more for the sweets.  I don’t blame them, with all the great food around, it was hard to decide.


That’s Dwight Eubanks in the photo above with his personal chef Deborah Van Trece. Dwight is the outspoken and flamboyant stylist on “HouseWives of Atlanta.”

Another fellow food blogger, Gwen of stopped by to sample some bread.  She’s a baker, but doesn’t yet feature bread on her blog. She wants to start baking bread and I hope she does.  In the meantime, she features a lot of other great food.



Tara, the event floor manager and taster extraordinaire, is asking me about some of the breads.


What she really wanted was some of the Cranberry Walnut Celebration bread so she was waiting for me to cut it.



Here is Bren Herrera of again (on the left) and Cecille of (on the right). Cecille is also participating in the BBA Challenge.  Bren looks like she’s having a great time.  She worked hard putting everything together so she deserved it!


Cecille brought some fabulous cupcakes.  I tried one of her Cardamom-Carrot Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Cheese (pictured below) and it was to die for.  Yummy!



I didn’t try any of her chocolate cupcakes but they looked fabulous!



Here is my new friend Tara coming back for some more Cranberry Walnut Celebration bread.  She’s waiting patiently while I cut some more slices.


I must say the Cranberry Walnut Celebration bread was a big hit!  I decided at the last minute to make it. I thought it would make a lovely presentation. Well, it did!  Everyone took one look and said “what’s that!”  Needless to say, it was one of the first loaves to be eaten. 


There were so many wonderful chefs and bloggers at the event and so much delicious food.  Of course, I didn’t get to sample all of it.  My boyfriend and I got stuffed as it was.


I did try some of the House smoked salmon slides with capers from Serpas True Food (Exec Chef Scott Serpas-  Scott is a James Beard winner and his restaurant was recently named top 10 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. by G.Q. magazine. 


I can understand why!  Those smoked salmon slides were delicious!  Spicy, but really good!



I even tried some sushi from Maru Sushi Restaurant (Chef @marujoe in Smyrna, GA).  The chefs were at the table directly across from me so I had to try their sushi, with some prompting from my boyfriend I might add. I don’t normally like sushi, but I liked this. We both liked it!  It was really cool the way they made the sushi.  I guess that’s what was so tempting.


It was a wonderful experience!

The whole experience was truly amazing and rewarding.  I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to give of my time and energy to benefit the people of Haiti.


I could go on and on about all of the fabulous food, the wonderful people and music and the venue, but I’ll let you check it out for yourself.  Click here to see more photos of STIR IT 28 - Atlanta.

Thank you Mark of for taking such great photos! 


I would also like to send a big thank you to Bren at, Chrystal over at and Courtney at for putting together this fabulous event across the nation.


You still have time to donate to this worthy cause!

You still have a few more days to donate if you haven’t done so already. Click on the PayPal button on the right side bar of

The entire month February has been designated as one of solidarity and fund-raising. As of Feb. 1 and through Feb. 28th, you can donate in any increment amount. We’d like a minimum of $5.00. Maybe donate what you would normally spend to create a dish for a post or give the amount you’d spend on a lunch or dinner out with friends. It’s not about how much you give, but the spirit in which you decided to help others and be selfless. We understand that economic times are hard, but even $1 from each of 500 or more bloggers WILL make a difference.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Pickled Baby Carrots: tigress can jam #2

The theme for this month’s tigress can jam is carrots. I was so excited when Doris and Jilly announced it on their blog.  I had the perfect recipe that I had been wanting to make since the Holidays.  However, that recipe takes a little while to make and I just haven’t had the time. So I opted for something a little less time consuming. 

Since we’re doing different fruits or vegetables each month, and I still have a bunch of jars from my canning adventures this past Fall, I decided to get a book on small batch canning.  It seemed like the practical thing to do. The book has some cool recipes and I found a fast and easy recipe for pickling baby carrots. I’m not really used to anything pickled except cucumbers, but this recipe sounded delicious so I thought I’d give it a try!  

Picked Baby Carrots with Oregano & Peppers

Makes: 2 Pint Jars

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The recipe is from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard.  The book has over 300 recipes that can be made year-round so I’ll probably be using more of the recipes throughout this challenge.


  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried (I used dried. My fresh oregano is a little worse for the wear right now)
  • 2 tablespoons each: chopped sweet red and green pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 1 lb peeled baby carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pickling salt

Here is everything you need to get started.  I put the vinegar and the water in the same measuring cup.

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Combine oregano, peppers and hot pepper flakes. 

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Remove hot jars from canner and divide pepper mixture between them.

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Add 1 clove garlic to each jar and fill each with half the carrots leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour hot liquid over carrots to within 1/2 inch of rim (headspace). 

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Process 15 minutes for pint jars. If you live in a higher altitude or need more detailed instructions on water-bath canning, please refer to the instructions at the National Center for Home Preservation.

See, I told you it was easy!  Now, we just have to wait a little while before we can eat them.  Most pickles need a few weeks to mellow before they are ready to eat.  Serve pickles cold and refrigerate pickles after opening.

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Pickling Tips:

When pickling, be sure to follow the instructions and use the appropriate amount of vinegar. Vinegar is the essential ingredient in the pickling process. It provides the acidity necessary to preserve produce as well as adding piquant flavor. Never use a vinegar that is less than 5% acetic acid. White vinegar is most commonly used because it does not affect the color of the condiment.

It is important to use only pickling salt. Table salt contains iodine that can turn the condiment dark, as well as anti-caking agents that can give a cloudy appearance.

Sugar is generally added for flavor, but it also helps to keep the preserved condiment firm.  Most recipes call for white granulated sugar, but brown sugar and maple syrup may also be added for their flavors.

I'm participating in the tigress' Can Jam during 2010. We'll be making jams and pickling for a whole year. Follow my progress on this blog.  Stay tuned for the February Can Jam Roundup…


Happy Canning and Baking!


In addition to my new book on small batch canning, here are some of the references I use in my canning adventures. You might enjoy them as well:

Monday, 15 February 2010

Valentine Bread with Cherries and Almonds

February is the month for love and lovers. Did you know that in many parts of Europe, there is an ancient tradition of giving Lover's Bread?

These gingerbreads were heart-shaped and extravagantly decorated with colored spun-sugar flowers. As the tradition goes, once the gingerbreads were given, the heart was bespoken and the young man who ate them with the woman who represented his heart's desire was committed for life.  This sort of gift disappeared from France around the time of the First World War but in other European countries, the tradition still exists.

Source: The History of Bread by Bernard Dupaigne

For Valentine’s Day, I decided to recreate this old tradition and give the gift of bread to my Sweetie.  Rather than trying to make an elaborate gingerbread heart, I chose this beautiful Lacy Valentine Bread Heart. It’s made with enriched dough, filled with chopped cherries and slivered almonds and glazed with a delicious almond glaze.


Lacy Valentine Coffee Cake

Printer friendly version

Source: Recipe Courtesy © 2010 ACH Foods. All Rights Reserved.

Makes: 2 coffee cakes

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  • 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110oF)
  • 2 envelopes Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (100 to 110oF)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped slivered almonds, toasted

Almond Glaze: In small bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted; 1/2 teaspoon almond extract; and 2 to 3 tablespoons milk. Stir until smooth.



Place warm water in large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add warm milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, salt, and 1-1/2 cups flour; blend well. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.

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Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

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Pat maraschino cherries between paper towels to remove excess moisture. In medium bowl, combine maraschino cherries, almonds, and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.

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Punch dough down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface; divide in half.  Roll 1 half to 24 x 7-inch oval. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter; brush half over dough to within 1/2 inch of edges.

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Sprinkle half of cherry mixture over dough.

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Beginning at long end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll.

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Pinch seam to seal;

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gently roll back and forth to stretch to 26-inch rope. Place, seam side down, on greased baking sheet.

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Form into ring; pinch ends together to seal. Shape into heart.

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With sharp knife (I did this with scissors), cut slits, starting at outside edge of heart, two-thirds of the way through dough at 3/4-inch intervals. Turn each section on its side to show filling. Cover with plastic wrap.

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Let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

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Bake at 350oF for 20 to 25 minutes or until done, switching positions of sheets halfway through baking time for even browning. Remove from sheets; let cool on wire racks.

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Frost with Almond Glaze

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Then decorate and give the bread to your Sweetheart and watch him or her smile.  I added some candied hearts because I like them.  :o)

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Instead of making two heart coffee cakes, I used the rest of the dough to make sweet rolls (buns actually) for my other two sweeties (aka my sons).  The buns were really good, but I didn’t get a photo.


This bread has been YeastSpotted.  Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.

Thanks for joining me today in the bread-baking blog.  I hope you enjoyed your bread experience.

Happy Baking!