Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Category: baking

Quick and easy rye bread? Oh, yeah

Fall is here, and that means it’s time to get back into baking bread. I was looking at making a rye bread, but discovered that my favorite rye bread recipe (which I hadn’t made since last winter) would take a very long day.*

I didn’t have the time for that.

Instead, I found a stray ‘try me’ recipe I’ve had for awhile and decided to give it a shot: Rye Soda Bread.

What I got was a fairly light loaf with lovely chewiness. And it took all of an hour**.

Rye Soda Bread***


1 3/4 cups whole-grain flour, plus extra for dusting (I used whole wheat pastry flour)

1 cup rye flour (I used a dark rye flour)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt (I substituted 5/8 cup sour cream mixed with 5/8 cup of water****)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Mix both flours, the oats, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream mixture) together, then use a fork to stir the egg mixture into the flour. Once it starts to come together, use your lightly floured clean hands to pat and bring the dough together.

Shape the dough into a round ball and place on a lightly floured baking sheet, dusting the top lightly with flour too. (I patted it into a loaf and placed it in a greased loaf pan.) Use your hands to flatten the dough into a disk, about 1/4 inch deep, then bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a firm crust has formed and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (I use a thermopen and look for 190+ degrees and a clean probe.)

Transfer to a wire cooling rack, and serve slightly warm.

Upon writing out the recipe with my modifications, I realized that perhaps I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. Whoops. Well, give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments.


*Multiple proofs, and that is after having to boil a molasses mixture and then drop its temperature gently, which takes forever.

**Well, after the oven pre-heat.

***Unfortunately, I didn’t note where I found the recipe. I really need to write that down when I photocopy recipes from library books.

****Okay, so it wasn’t precisely 5/8 cup, but as close as I could eyeball it with the Pyrex measuring cup.

Bestest frosting EVER

Well, if that isn’t a clickbait title….

Just look at that! Sweet.

For anniversary/birthday celebration, I experimented with a new recipe* for Chocolate Malt Layer Cake with Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting. Not only was the recipe new to me, but the technique was a new one, too: all cake ingredients layered into a food processor and set to frappe.

I’m not sure the food processor really did anything different than my stand mixer, but it was a new method.

The cake was good: chocolate tasting without being chalky and overly sweet. Could have used more malt flavor, but it was fine.

The frosting was excellent, and that was even with not adding the 4-6 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Check this out:

Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting

Put 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, 1 stick room temperature unsalted butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup sour cream, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in a food processor bowl. Cover and frappe until smooth “no more than a few seconds”**.

You could follow the original recipe and then add 4+ cups of confectioners’ sugar, but why would you? This frosting has a lovely sweetness that complements the tang of the cream cheese and sour cream. It’s perfect as is!***

And I’m pretty darned pleased with the results. I mean, look at that thin layer of frosting in the middle!

So this is one recipe that goes down in the “Win” column. Woo hoo!


*For the life of me, I cannot remember which cookbook I found the recipe in. I think it was a ‘fast/easy cooking’ book involving food processors, but that’s all I’ve got.

**It took me longer than ‘a few seconds’, unless the author defines ‘a few’ as nearing 60.

***Seriously. I could just eat that frosting straight out of the bowl and not get sick off it. Of course, I didn’t actually try that. Much.

The Missing Circle of Hell

In his Inferno, Dante details the nine circles of Hell, each circle increasing in wickedness:

  1. Limbo
  2. Lust
  3. Gluttony
  4. Greed
  5. Wrath
  6. Heresy
  7. Violence
  8. Fraud
  9. Treachery

I remember reading this in college and thinking, “How interesting—Fraud and Treachery are worse than anything!”*

Oh, no, Dear Reader. There is one thing worse than even those wicked acts. Something far more heinous and abominable.

Tearing pages from library books.

I did my research** and found Her Royal Baking Majesty Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. I just knew this was what I was looking for: an excellent book on baking cakes. With a few keystrokes, I placed the book on hold and waited, hoping it would arrive in time for the 4th of July so I would have a day to bake a fabulous cake from this highly regarded cookbook. The book arrived on the 3rd, and I took it home and immediately began flipping through it. Oh, what cake will I try? Oooh! Here’s a good one, and Birnbaum recommends a buttercream frosting. I’ll just look at that recipe to see if I have everything to make it-

DOH! Someone had ripped out the pages of the basic buttercream recipe!

Upon further inspection***, I discovered that the fiend had also ripped out the pages of the key cake recipes:

missing pages from a library book

The tell-tale sign of a sinner! (Can you see the remains of the ripped pages? Ugh, I hate camera phones.)

Who would do such a thing? Was there no photocopier nearby? Did the brute not have a smartphone to snap a photo? If it meant that much, it would be a far better thing to steal the whole damn book than to disfigure it and then leave its remains for unsuspecting bakers to discover and flail upon.

People suck.

So now I am debating whether to place a hold on a different copy of the book, or to find a different cookbook to work from, or (heaven forbid), just find something from the Internets.




*Yeah, I’m sure that is exactly what I was thinking. It was more likely along the lines of “What the $#@&? How did Dante get to that? Someone must have seriously screwed him over.”

**”Research” = searching Amazon for “Most Popular” “Cookbooks” “Baking” “NOT Kindle”

***”Inspection” = starting with the title page, looking for other missing pages because, you know, criminals don’t commit just one crime.

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