Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Snow Day Bread

We finally got some snow here in central Illinois. My kids spent an entire morning watching it accumulate before I deemed it time to get dressed and head out into the long-awaited winter wonderland.

While waiting for the snow to fall, Finn and I baked a loaf of bread.  The recipe came from a cookbook that he picked up at the library last week. For the last six months or so, Finn has been consistently declaring that he wants to be a baker when he grows up. His determination to be a baker is so set that if he comes up with another career objective, it is always preceded by his baking tenure (e.g. "After I'm a baker, I think I'll be someone who drives a boat"). In fact, Santa (and Melissa & Doug...) even brought him a baker's costume for Christmas:

The cookbook is called The Children's Baking Book and it's published by DK. As a K-5 school library media specialist, I am intimately familiar with cookbooks for kids; they are heavily used and I have purchased a lot of them over the years. The DK ones are good - full of step-by-step directions, lots of color photographs, and, for the most part, yummy recipes. Because many of them were initially published in Great Britain, there are sometimes ingredients that may not sound familiar. For example, many recipes in this book call for "golden syrup" which, as far as I know, is not something readily available in the States (it recommends substituting with equal parts light corn syrup and honey). Alternatives are generally given (or you can figure them out, as in "dessicated coconut" in place of "shredded coconut"), so this by no means affects the usability of the book.

We picked this recipe in large part because Finn liked the picture. And what is wrong with that, really? It's a lovely multigrain bread that has lots of aesthetic appeal because it is braided rather than loafed. It turned out very nicely and was the perfect accompaniment to big bowls of borscht (I do love me some beets) on a snowy night. I don't typically include step-by-step pictures with my recipes, but I did take a few of the braiding process for your reference.

Multigrain Braid
adapted from The Children's Baking Book


1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
4 cups multigrain bread flour (I used half white and half whole wheat)
2 tsp salt
1 oz. butter
extra flour for dusting
oil for bowl and baking sheet

1. Place the yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the water in a small bowl.  Stir well and leave in a warm place for ten minutes, until the mixture turns frothy.

2. Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until it is thoroughly mixed in.

3. Make a well in the center and pour in the frothy yeast mixture and remaining water.  Stir with a wooden spoon to form a dough, then use your hands to form a ball.

4. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp dish towel, and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Lightly punch down the dough.

7. Shape the dough into a rectangle, then cut it into three equal pieces.  Use your hands to roll each piece of dough into a 12" long "sausage."

8. Make an H with the dough pieces, weaving the middle piece over the piece on the left and under the piece on the right.

9. Braid from the center downward, then turn the dough around and repeat (this doesn't exactly work out, you have to kind of twist it to make the second part of the braid. Or at least I did).

10. Tuck the ends under and place on the baking sheet. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hollow when tapped. Remove from the pan and let cool.


  1. Oh my gosh, I want to grab Finn by that cute little chef coat and squeeze him like crazy! I love that kid. I want to bake with that kid. Hopefully he won't be too far up in the ranks to work at my bakery by the time I get around to opening one. :-)

    1. If that means that we get to live in the same city, then, YES! Finn will work for you :)