the-other-side-of-atkins Recipes, Tips

white batter + chocolate orange breads

Sometime over the last couple years — arguably, just as this carbohydrate castoff moment has crossed the American table, or more likely in subversive rebellion of it — I’ve become obsessed with baking bread. There’s something so elemental, primitive about setting bacteria loose in milled grains to feast! ferment! to their unicellular heart’s content, guiding it along with humidity and simple sugars and just when things can’t get any better for the little guys — Wohoo! It’s warm in here! — well, we off them so they’ll taste better for us. Hey, I said primitive, right?

shaping for second rise

So, it is with unbridled excitement that I began at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning the first of three five-hour bread baking classes at the ICE, the perfect 30th birthday present from Alex after months of shameless hints from me. Exactly as I had hoped, I learned a whole lot of new things, some of which I will happily sum up for you in a hopefully less-than-five-hour format.

showing us how to shape a loaf

11 New-To-Me Things I Learned In My First Bread-Baking Class
[Numbers 12-20]

  1. The pretty much only difference between All Purpose Bleached and Unbleached flours are the processes used to prepare them; the bleached version is faster and therefore less expensive for manufacturers. (Many say that it causes slightly lower protein contents.) However, they can be used interchangeably as they cause unnoticeably different outcomes. That said, most bakers prefer the unbleached.
  2. I suppose we may have already known this, but weighing is always superior to measuring with scoops. The teacher showed us three cups of flour measured three different ways. Method 1 was the classic scoop and level — this makes an approximately 5 oz. cup. Method 2 was to gently spoon flour into a cup — this makes an approximately 4 to 4.5 oz. cup. Method 3, which I am all too guilty of, is to scoop and then shake or tap off the excess to level off the top. Bad, bad, bad, this can give you an up to 6 or more oz. cup. You are safest in most recipes with Method 1, but if you know, as we did, that the person who wrote the recipe you are using prefers another (2, in this case) use that.
  3. Better yet, always leave the last 1/2-cup of flour aside when making bread. As our teacher reminded us, it’s easy to add the extra flour if the dough is too sticky; adding more water if it’s too dry is much more difficult.
  4. Get comfortable with bread dough on the sticky side as it makes for the softest, least-dense breads. No, not so sticky that you are smearing instead of kneading it across the bench, but stickier than say the type of person (cough) who over-flours things to keep her hands from getting too messy would be comfortable with. Too much flour makes for it harder for the yeast to do its thang.
  5. This is the one that blew me away: cool temperatures. You know that whole “warm, draft-free place thing” always suggested for first risings? Well, ix-nay the warm. Essentially, long, cool risings develop the best flavors in breads, so the longer you let it grow, the better it will taste. If you bread is growing too quickly, or, if you really have some time to kill, the refrigerator is a great place for it, covered with plastic. It will not kill the yeast. Even better, you could make a dough at night and cook it the next day. Taking the time-sensitive factor out of bread-baking is a total gift to me.

chocolate/orange, baking

  1. Rounding the dough, the step between the initial rising and before the final one before its baked, is necessary to allow the dough to recover from the punching down. After you punch down the initial rising, the bread is all verklempt and frazzled. Giving it ten minutes to get itself moving again helps you when you need to create its final shape – be it in a pan or flattened.
  2. Short of more elaborate tools which will measure your bread, dipping two fingers into flour and then the center of the mound of risen bread is a great way to see if it’s perfectly doubled and ready to be punched down. If the indentation stays, it’s ready, if it bounces back, it’s not. This is used again (well, not in the center but in a less obvious place) when you want to see if your bread is ready for the oven.
  3. Preheat your oven 25 degrees higher than the recipe suggests, as every time you open the oven, you lose at least this many degrees. Once the bread is in, you can lower the temperature back to the correct one.
  4. Like with meat, the very best, most reliable way to see if your bread is done is to take its temperature. With the pan breads, we popped them out and checked it from the bottom to avoid many unsightly punctures on top. The bread should be between 190 and 210 degrees F, 210 for basic breads, and lower for enriched breads with eggs and butter. I took out my oatmeal loaf at 204 because it really seemed done and guess what? It could have used 3-5 more minutes. Any instant-read thermometer will do.
  5. I think we already know how stale this makes them, but don’t refrigerate your bread. Up to a day, they are good at room temperature, but beyond that, the freezer is ideal. (Personally, I think wrapping them twice – first in foil, plastic, or parchment paper and then slipping them into a freezer bag keeps them fresh tasting for a while.)
  6. Slashing bread is more than decorative, it’s done to control where it pops out when it bakes. We didn’t do this with our pan breads yesterday, but one of the chocolate-orange ones really blew out on one side and not the other, and could have been avoided had we slit it first.

white batter bread, cooling

In class one, we focused on pan breads: white, honey whole wheat, cinnamon/raisin swirl, chocolate/orange, oatmeal and a white batter bread. Of these, the one that impressed me the most was the last one — oddly, the only one not kneaded. It is a bit on the tender side, but could be used for sandwiches. It’s even better for toast or just plain snacking.

white batter bread, first taste

White Batter Bread
Recipe adapted from class materials at the ICE

Updated 3/12/11: It turns out, this bread recipe had some major problems, problems which I’m terribly embarrassed took me 4 1/2 years (and an utter ignorance towards the handful of concerned comments) to realize were there. 1. I forgot to mention that the dough was to be divided among two pans (yikes!) 2. There was too much salt. Better I fix it late than never, right? While I was at it, I went ahead and halved the recipe to make just one loaf, streamlined the directions and added metrics.

The revised recipe works like the dream this bread was originally meant to be. This is a very quick, very simple, tender white sandwich bread with incredible flavor. It requires no kneading and only one rise, and comes out of the oven in 30 minutes. I realize that white bread has fallen out of favor in the last couple decades, but maintain that if for occasional nostalgia alone (or brown bettys!) it’s a delicious thing to know how to whip up if only so you can eat it warm from the oven, slathered with salted butter.

Yield: One sandwich loaf

1 cup (237 ml) milk, warmed (105 to 110 degrees)
1 1/8 teaspoons (half of one envelope i.e. 1/8 ounce or 3 1/2 grams) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon (13 grams or 1/2 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus additional for greasing pan
2 cups (250 grams or 8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

Whisk yeast into warmed milk and set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk together yeast mixture, sugar, salt and butter. Beat in flour (with a wooden spoon or paddle of an electric mixer) half at a time to make a smooth batter — beat for 3 to 4 minutes with a machine or 5 minutes by hand.

Butter a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Pour batter into pan and cover with a piece of buttered plastic wrap and let rise for one hour. About 20 minutes before it is done rising, preheat your oven to 400°F and remove the plastic from your loaf.

Place bread in oven and reduce temperature to 375°F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the bread reads 210&#176.

Chocolate Orange Bread
From Techniques of Bread Baking 1 at the ICE

Though this sounds more like cake than bread, it is not too sweet and make a perfect breakfast or brunch bread.

1/2 cup warm water, about 110 degrees
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (remember to reserve some, adding it only if you need)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, about 1 ounce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg

One 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4-inch loaf pan, buttered

1. Place warm water in a small bowl and whisk in yeast
2. To mix dough by hand, combine flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, orange zest and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Rub in butter until no piece of butter remain visible. Add milk, egg and yeast mixture and stir to form a rough dough. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface (you may need the help of a scraper) and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
3. Place dough in a buttered bowl and turn to coast all sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
4. Turn risen dough from bowl out onto a floured work surface. Press down with palms of hands to deflate. To form loaf, stretch dough into a rough rectangle, then fold in short ends until dough is approximately the length of the pan. Then fold far long edge down to the middle. Fold over the remaining long edge and compress to form a tight cylinder. Place the loaf in the pan, seam side down. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (deb note: you’ll want to quickly spray or oil the top of it so it doesn’t stick to the plastic when it rises) and allow dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. When the loaf is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees and set a rack at the middle level.
6. When the loaf is completely risen, place in oven and immediately lower temperature to 350 degrees. Bake about 30 to 40 minutes, until well risen and firm to the tough. The internal temperature of the bread will be about 210 degrees when it’s done. (deb note: might be as low as 190, as this has an egg and butter in it). Unmold the loaf to a rack to cool.

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94 comments on white batter + chocolate orange breads

  1. That is a fantastic birthday present :) And thank you for posting the guide – I have a ridiculous fear of working with yeast, but having now printed out this post, I’ll make sure to have it with me when I try working with it again!

  2. Thanks for all the tips! I would love to take a baking class, or any cooking class for that matter but have not yet worked myself up to do it. Thanks to you and Cream Puffs in Venice, I’m enjoying living vicariously through other people who are taking classes.

  3. Meredith

    Your site is a delightful form of torture. I’m at a mining camp in Alaska for weeks at a time where the food, though edible, is nothing special. I shall have to collect receipes to try when at home so that I can perhaps balance out the blandness of the food at camp.

    And the pictures, well, my mouth is watering. That’s probably the most heartbreaking part of this website! Keep it up!

  4. Excellent post. I love to bake bread, but I am not. good. at. it.

    I’ll be copying and printing your tips for future attempts!

    What a fanTAStic birthday gift.

  5. Bravo! What a wonderful ode to the powers of yeast and flour! Greedy me would loooove some of the other recipes you sampled in your class. I browsed all your photos on Flicker, and was getting antsy just thinking about making some bread. The wheat loaf (I’m assuming) looked wonderful, and that chocolate orange bread… how sinful! Was it made with cocoa powder or melted chocolate? Would you eat it for breakfast or dessert…. or both?

    Thanks!

    Jessica

  6. What fun! Can’t wait to hear more stories. And Bawdy Penguin – are you sure your yeast isn’t past its sell-by date? You can add a pinch of sugar to the yeast-water mixture while it proofs, as yeast loves sugar. What it does not love is salt, so wait on adding salt to your mixture until the proofing liquid is nice and bubbly and you’ve added the flour too.

  7. deb

    Hilary – If that makes you hungry, let’s all be glad I lack the language to describe its smell. It lured the pastry class across the hall over, trying to exchange bits of their leftovers for samples. As if.

    Ellie – I hope to have a lot more where that came from in the coming weeks. Don’t be scared – they say it’s much harder to kill than you think.

    Brilynn – This is my first class and it took me years to finally convince people that I meant it when I said that was all I wanted for birthdays or holidays, that is, once they ruled out Tiffany’s. But, I think a lot can be learned from cookbooks and food blogs, possibly even all of it, without taking them. That said, for something as elaborate as bread, I’m thrilled to have someone walk me through all of it before my bad habits get too set and I’ll do my best to share everything.

    Meredith – I bet the first thing you make when you get home, even if it’s just grilled cheese, will be the best thing you’ve ever made.

    Abby – You should try it! Just follow the instructions, I swear, it works. That’s the only way I learned until now, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is.
    Jessica G – I’ll try to put some more up tonight. The basic white is just that, and the oatmeal bread was pretty good. Also, the chocolate/orange. Oy, I have a lot of typing to do.

    Bawdy Penguin – I second what Luisa said. They told use to put it in water at 110 degrees (though it doesn’t have to be perfect; very, very hot water will kill it, too cold will just take longer). It’s supposed to be pretty hard to kill, so it’s most likely the product and not you.

    Luisa – See, he told us something about the sugar and I forgot now… Nothing bad, just another little trick. I hate forgetting things!

    Take more notes next week, Deb! Inquiring minds!

  8. Jenifer

    You have revived breads in my life! Also, from reading your posts here and at that OTHER site you had, I’ve signed up for cooking classes at the local Viking Cooking School. Soon, I am going to be making gourmet chocolates and fine Tuscan dining.

  9. If you lose 25 degrees every time you open the oven, I wonder if that means you should start off at a higher temperature for whatever you are making, no only bread. And welcome to your new digs.

  10. Jezzie

    that last photo….I lost my dad when I was 5. He was a big man in many ways, but gentle….one of my most enduring memories is the bread he baked, paired with fresh made butter, and it was that same bread. You are not kidding when you describe how wonderful it smells…the taste is home and comfort. He was also famous for his homeade bread and butter pickle slices, the likes of which I never tasted in any jar! Bake, Deb, bake your little heart content :)

  11. deb

    Jennifer – That’s terrible! When I have my cooking show (evil cackle) I will make sure it is available everywhere.

    Jenifer – Aw, thank you! I can’t wait to hear more about it. You’ll need a blog, you know, so we can all take part. :)

    Neil – Good question, Neilotchka! I will inquire of Chef Loren next Sunday, if I am not to slow-moving after Rosh Hashanah dinner with the Russians. Heheh.

    Jezzie – That’s really beautiful, thank you.

  12. Christine

    I remember as a little girl, I would go grocery shopping with my grandmother. She would time it so we were there when they took out the fresh baked french bread. She would carefully examine each loaf until she found the perfect one. She was so gentle in the way she placed it in the basket and I would see her smile at her choice.

    We would snack on that hot steamy goodness all the way home. She would say, “grocery shopping is hard work, we deserve a snack.” I couldn’t agree with her more. Now that I am older and have lost my grandmother, I have found grocery shopping to be great fun; however, I occasionally indulge in french break snacking on the way home. No butter necessary…let the memories flow!

  13. me7c7v

    I love baking bread as well, and one of the books that really got me going was The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I made a friend get it for me for Christmas one year and she thought I was crazy, and then I opened it immediately and started reading bits aloud to her and she thought I was crazy crazy. You should check it out. :)

  14. wow..I used to seriously dislike bread as a child. I don’t know what I was thinking… cuz now the smell of bread baking gets me super excited. Your apt is gonna smell AWESOME for a while. Lucky u! That’s an awesome b-day present!

  15. Michelle

    Christine – I so remember the fresh baked French bread at the store when I was a kid too. To this day, if I smell it, I want to buy it immediately!

    A couple of years ago, for Christmas, my husband got me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received – a pink, Kitchen Aid mixer. Anyway, it inspired us (among other things) to start making our own bread and pizza dough. What amazed me was how few ingredients actually went into the pizza dough. Now, we love making homemade pizza – especially now that we’re entering fall. My husband also made sourdough bread. It was so great having homemade bread around the house.

    Thank you for posting the cool things you learned in your classes – really helpful information!

  16. I’m thinking about trying this out tonight! Thanks Deb. Did you see the bread recipe in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living? I am considering trying that one out too. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  17. Susanne

    I am an avowed bread baker. My mother taught me how and “bread machine” is a dirty word around her. Thanks so much for the 11 things! So helpful!

  18. Susanne

    Also, are you familar with King Arthur flour? Not only do they mill their own stuff, but their catalogs are filled with oodles of fun toys. Thought you might be interested.

  19. Devon

    Oh you filled my heart with all the memories of Saturday mornings as a child at my grandparents house. My grandfather was taught to be a baker at CCC camps during the depression. And when i was a kid on Saturdays he would teach me how to make bread from scratch. Oh the pics brought back the memories..BTW the last pic was just mouth watering. Congrats on turning 30. I will be next month.

  20. Trish

    Hi!

    I was searching for a really good batter bread recipe on the net when I saw your site.

    I tried your White Batter Bread recipe this morning and have pronounced it the best White Bread ever!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have recently moved to a new(old, old, old) home that does not have the space or the right surfaces for kneading bread and I thought I was doomed to bad store bread or impossibly overpriced boutique bakery breads.

    This stuff is the perfect solution for me!

  21. Lisa in Poland

    This could not be easier!! I never thought I’d bake a yeast bread myself!! The taste is quite good. I think I will use less salt and more sugar next time (maybe 2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar) but I’ll certainly be making it often! We had some with our polish tomato soup and I can’t wait to have some toasted with jam in the morning.

  22. I really enjoyed reading this – I’m currently reading How to Cook by Delia Smith, it explains bread baking really well too, so added to your comments I think i’m all set for my first home bread-baking session! Love the blog, check out mine if you like, i’m new to blogging :) http://ifoundafish.wordpress.com

  23. Leigh Ann

    I made this white bread the other day – I was hesitant about the amount of salt, but I went ahead with it anyway, and next time I will definitely reduce it. I probably could have done just fine with a teaspoon. We had it with jam, so the saltiness and sweetness balanced out, but it was a little salty on its own. However, I do LOVE the ease of preparing it! And it was indeed delicious. Thanks :)

  24. Olivia

    Ok, so I haven’t even finished a slice yet, but just wanted to note for people out there trying this recipe that you probably shouldn’t keep out the entire 1/2 cup of flour on the chocolate orange bread. I added in about 1/4 cup more as I kneaded the bread. The result was a messy, sticky sort of concoction at first, but adding it in slowly worked.

    It made the entire house smell wonderful, which is exactly what our family needed during the family emergency–welcoming smells amidst much sadness and loss.

    Thanks for the recipes as always.

  25. Wow! Thanks for sharing these recipes! but I usually use instant yeast as I haven’t seen any active dry yeast around. What sort of changes should I make using instant yeast?

    Many thanks!

  26. marguerite

    Hey Deb – I tried to make the white batter bread the other day and had mediocre results (I think I let it rise too long). It seemed like such a perfect recipe to try bread making for the first time! How long should I allow for the rise? Did you use AP or bread flour? Thanks.

  27. deb

    You can use AP or bread flour, and you want to let it rise until it has doubled in volume. Depending on the warmth of your kitchen and the strength of your yeast, this can take anywhere from one to three hours.

    This white batter bread recipe is old and needs a better description but in short: This is an almost cake-y white bread. As you can see in the last two pictures, it doesn’t rise as much as, say, the light wheat bread, and the crumb almost looks like cake (but tastes chewier, and also like bread). It is also insanely delicious.

    Hope you’ll have better luck next time!

  28. Julia

    After having good luck with the light wheat bread recipe on this site, I made the white batter bread yesterday. It was both incredibly easy and wonderful to eat. I used AP flour with a Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten added for good measure, and beat the dough with the KA mixer paddle attachment for three minutes. Definitely use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the loaf like the recipe says, because after 30 min. my bread looked deep brown and perfect on top and bottom, but was only 130 degrees inside! It would have been a total disaster if I had taken it out based on looks alone. I covered the top with foil so it wouldn’t get any more brown and left it in for what seemed like forever, until it finally reached 210. It was moist and delicious. I will make it again, often. Thank you for yet another winner!

  29. Elisabeth D.

    Hi,

    Well – I just finished mixing up a batch of the White Batter Bread and I have a couple of observations to make, and questions to ask.

    First, I used Instant Yeast (2 1/4 tsp.) as that is all that I have, and I used my scale to weigh out all of the ingredients – after converting the amounts to weight, of course. Second, I ended up beating the batter in my KA Mixer (with the paddle attachment) at a speed of 8 for five minutes and a speed of 6 for an additional two minutes. My initial observation, after the mixing, was that the dough looked a lot like Ciabatta dough.

    I did not know if mixing for five to eight minutes was the original intent for the Batter Bread Recipe, however, I wanted to mix until I reached a stretchy “Windowpane” consistency – which is what I do for all the wet doughs that I work with. In fact, every recipe for a wet dough that I have ever worked with pretty much demands that you beat it to Windowpane consistency, in order to properly develop the Gluten.

    Anyway, the recipe makes a beautiful, stretchy, wet dough – which I did not need to so much as pour into my pan, as dump and then pat gently into shape. I found the dough very easy to work with, and it has been rising for about a half hour now; I thought that I would give it about an hour before I would bother to check in on it.

    Finally, I decided to use my Tea Loaf Pan (from King Arthur) to bake the loaf in, which is 12″ x 4″ x 2 1/2″ in size and holds the equivalent of a 9″ x 5″ loaf. What I am going to do is bake the loaf at 375 degrees, and as far as time – well – I am going to play that one by ear, and take it’s temperature at the half hour mark. This Tea Loaf Pan is supposed to cut baking time by 25%, so I will test that theory out.

    Thats it, for now. I will post back when the bread is baked, cooled and taste-tested. If this turns out to be worth my while, then I will post back with the ingredient weights that I converted everything to, just in case someone else out there measures by weight, instead of volume.

    Wish me luck!

  30. Sara

    I tried the white batter bread but 1 tablespoon was WAAAY too much salt. I reduced it down to 1 teaspoon the next time and it was much better. Seriously the first time I was choking.

    Was the tablespoon a typo? Or do you really bake with that much salt?

  31. Last night I made the white batter bread. I used buttermilk instead of regular milk. I just tasted a slice and it’s wonderful. This is a really easy bread to make. I think it’s even tastier than the no-knead bread! Be sure to butter the loaf pan as directed, though, because I skimped on this step and struggled to get the bread out of the pan.

  32. Danielle

    I just made the chocolate orange bread, and it came out beautiful… but it has this strange acidic taste (that apparently only I can feel, otherwise it’s good). Could it be that there is too much yeast? It seems a whole lot for the amount of flour, and it rose like crazy. Like was already mentioned, the dough was really sticky and I had to add a lot of flour.

  33. calliope

    Since coming across this recipe last week, I have made this 4 times! Bread that I can make after work on a weekday… unbelievable!! It is delicious. Now I want to mess around with the ingredients. Do you think I could adapt it to whole wheat? Or maybe to cinnamon swirl bread? Any other additions you can think of? My kids love it as sandwich bread (or just slathered with nutella). Thank you for the wonderful recipes.

  34. Jennifer

    casey- I’ve made this bread twice in a 9×5 pan and it overflowed both times. My kitchen was very cool but it still doubled in under an hour. I’m going to try less yeast and pour in less batter next time. This recipe is just too delicious to give up on!

  35. As I was perusing your site, I found this recipe and I have to admit – it intrigued me because while I don’t mind kneading bread, I’m always on the look out for great no-knead breads. And since I’ve had great success with the recipes from this site that I’ve made, I had to try this one. Except, I doctored it up with two medium sized vidalias, halved and thinly sliced and caramellized and about half a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese. And it’s divine…except I wish I’d thought to toast some herbs and sprinkle them on top. Maybe next time, eh? =)

  36. JanetP

    Another overflow! Yikes! Heated the oven a little bit, like I usually do, popped the bread in to rise. Came back a little less than an hour later — dough exploded, all over the oven racks, all over the oven floor — gak! Punched down the remaining dough in the pan (the half that was left), set it on top of the stove to rise again to try to salvage it. Doubled in size pretty happily …. should come out of the oven in a few minutes.

    How did you rise your original loaf? Do you remember? Somewhere cool, apparently.

  37. Ron D

    Hi Deb. I’ve been trying out some batter bread recipes from some of my old baking books (1978) and came across your recipe. I am planning on giving it a try in the next few days and the only item I need information for is the size of the loaf pan you used. I couldn’t find any size listed. Thank you in advance.

  38. claire

    Deb, you advocate weighing ingredients, and I’m with you on that one -its always worked for me, and British recipes don’t have the variation between authors since grams (or even oz!) are standard but cup volumes aren’t. However, all your recipes will then go on to be only in US measures. I’m dedicated enough to do all the conversions to the best of my limited ability, but why not post your recipes in both? It would be such a help to those of us used to a different system and would support all of your own assertions ;) it would be a really good extra string to the bow for that book of yours too, which I already can’t wait for. OK, most people don’t bother, but go on, blaze a trail!
    Loving the sound of that white batter bread btw -the tips are a godsend too, especially the temperature. I always dither over the “cooked? Ready? Not ready? A touch more?” moment, but now -saved! Feel the gratitude, woman :)

    1. deb

      Hi Claire — The book will have cups, ounces and grams, so it will cover all bases. I am trying to get all of my recipes in all measurements, but it’s a very slow process. There are many more with ounce and gram options towards the “front” (newer recipes). Eventually, perhaps once I’m done working on this blasted (ha) book all of the time, I’ll make my way to the older recipes.

  39. Daisy

    I love baking and i love this site and usually everything i find on here and try tastes amazing! However, the chocolate orange bread was a complete disaster the taste was completely awful. It needs more sugar or something it had a very strong acidic taste. It looked and smelled amazing just not good to eat :)

  40. Susan

    I took some inspiration from the baking tips in this post when hunting out more info for making a batter bread. (I’m on a tender bread thing at the moment) I am struck by how salt and sugar amounts are all over the board in batter breads. This white batter bread in particular lists salt at 1 tablespoon. That seems like a lot of salt for the amount of flour used in this recipe. The most I’ve noticed in the several dozen similar recipes I’ve read is 2 teaspoons and even that made me raise a brow. Is the amount right? I ask because I know how important salt is as a seasoning in simple, plain bread but how much is too much considering the amount of yeast and the small amount of sugar? Do you recall what you tasted of the salt?

    1. deb

      I recommend that you go with your gut first on this but I don’t remember it being overly salty — actually, I remember it having a good balance of salty and sweet — but this was made over 4 1/2 years ago and I can also barely remember last week these days. :)

      Now I’m fretting that we used coarse or Kosher salt instead of table salt, which of course would mean that you’d want to use way less table salt. That said, I use one whole teaspoon of table salt for 1 1/2 cups flour in my pizza dough which, given, I want a little salty but still doesn’t taste particularly salty once baked. This may not be that high of an amount, even with table salt.

      I’m eager to revisit this recipe because it was so delicious and, of course, an original “no knead” bread. Maybe I’ll have time this weekend!

  41. Susan

    Thanks, Deb. I know that was asking a lot considering the age of this post, but I hoped that maybe (just maybe!) because of answering other recent comments and it’s ease of method, you might have baked it recently. I went with my gut and used a scant 2 tsp. I also increased the sugar to 2 tbsps and browned the butter. It’s sort of a riff on Sally Lunn bread. Can’t wait to try it as french toast or bread pudding.

  42. Susan

    OH…and I added a couple of eggs and reduced the milk. So much for following a recipe! See how easy riffing bread becomes once you get into it?

  43. rhonda

    just made the white batter bread. it was omg good. kids and i only disagree with you on one step. we see no need to let cool completely! we decided cool 15 minutes then slather with butter and have for lunchtime snack was the way to go. Thanks for sharing this recipe! The kids also adore the cream biscuits. They think they taste like Cracker Barrell biscuits. i say they are much better. Im guessing you dont have CB in NYC?? have you been to one?

  44. Ada

    So I thought I’d try the white bread since I don’t have the time to do the Sally Lunn bread (which is how I found this post), and I think I might have a problem. After mixing my ingredients, I didn’t have a batter so much as a soft dough. It would have been impossible to knead, but it was almost impossible to stir by hand too (I don’t have a stand mixer). Instead of pouring it into the pan, I lifted it out and tried to pat it into place. Is this supposed to happen? I measured the flour by weight, rather than cups, if that helps.

    1. deb

      It’s tough to mix by hand but it should not be impossible. The word “dough” is worrisome because this is indeed a batter bread. I actually made this with weights (my preference, as well) when I retested it last weekend, so they should hopefully be correct. My mixture was batter-y and not very thick.

  45. frances

    thanks so much for updating this recipe. i tried it last summer, and it was just… okay. it was definitely batter, not dough, but during rising it was very thin and wobbly; i could see the air bubbles in the top and when i picked up the pan to put it in the oven, it deflated and didn’t rise again in the oven. i assumed i had over-proofed it, which is still entirely possible (and probable), but today it held its shape much better (though maybe it was too thick; kind of like drop biscuit consistency) and rose a bit more. i still wish it had risen even more (it’s only about 2.5 inches high) but it’s so delicious this time i don’t care :)

  46. Ada

    Well, after my previous post, I went ahead and baked it anyway. It did indeed double in volume, and it’s an excellent almost cakey white bread, but it was exactly half the height of a regular slice of bread. I have no idea what went wrong, but I’ll probably try this recipe again in the future, hopefully paying more attention to it next time!

  47. Monica

    I had the same experience as Ada. My dough was definitely a dough and not a batter (I figured this was wrong at that point…but am baking it because, really, how bad can it turn out??) I will make it in the next couple of days using weighted measurements and report back!

  48. Jessica

    When I baked the revised version of this in a 9 x 5 pan, it came out about half the height of a sensible loaf of bread. Mine definitely was a batter though. My 9 x 5 pans are I think actually slightly larger than 9 x 5, but I’m going to try it in an 8.5 x 4 or whatever my smaller pan is. I’ll let you know how it came out.

  49. Carrie

    I baked this yesterday and had the same experience as some of the other recent commenters – my loaf, while good, was exactly half as tall as I expected it to be (about 2.5 inches). I triple-checked the ingredient amounts and directions because when I poured the batter (and it was a batter, not a dough) into the pan, I thought it looked like too small an amount to rise to fill the pan, and I was worried I’d misread the recipe and added too little of something. But no, I’d followed it perfectly! It did double in volume after about an hour, but that only brought it to a little more than halfway up the side of the pan (and I measured my pan – it is a 9×5). Any suggestions or thoughts about what I might have done wrong? It’s tasty, but useless as sandwich bread at this size!

  50. Hi. I have a question but I want to say that Im addicted to this site from the day that my friend sent the link to me. You absolutely deserve an award for something. I think this site is what Ophra was to so many people.

    My question. How long was the course at the ICE. Did you take just baking or cooking.

    Thanks

    1. deb

      Lidice — I took the bread baking. It was, I think, 3 Saturdays or Sundays, for a few hours each day. Check their website, if they’re still running it, it’s on there.

  51. What great bread-baking tips! Though I’ve baked a lot of bread, several of those pointers were nevertheless new to me. I’ve never scored the tops of my loaves but I bet doing so could’ve saved a few from rising unevenly in the oven.

    Also, the white batter bread’s crumb looks so tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Don’t feel embarassed to have not realized the recipe’s flaws – I’ve done that once or twice in my recipes. I’ll omit an integral step, like “add the Oreos” or something. We are but human. :)

  52. Elsa

    I’ve made this bread twice, and it was super good, but the first time I made it it turned out an inch thick, and the second time, it rose to the top of the pan, but was flat and pockmarked with bubbles. Why do you think this happened, and what can I do to make the beautiful loaf like the one in your picture? :)

  53. Rachel

    Made the chocolate orange bread today….the dough smelled amazing but the taste was not good. I agree with the people that said it was acidic, there is just something off about it.

  54. Andrea

    This was soo good! I let it rise in a really warm place so it more than doubled in volume, but it didn’t rise much more in the oven. I loved the slight sweetness and the texture, so tender! I actually prefered this one from the sally lunn, even though it is even less work ( in 1.5 hour we were eating homemade bread yay!)

  55. Lianne

    Hi, I tried to make this bread today but it didn’t rise at all! I don’t think it’s my yeast that’s the issue since I made brioche a few days ago and it worked fine then. I’m thinking I might have heated the milk too hot and it killed the yeast, is that possible? I don’t have a food thermometer so I’ve got no idea how to tell when the milk is heated to the right temp, any tips? Thanks!

  56. I cant wait to try out making the white batter bread tomorow. Im thinking of adding raisins to it. Also I would like to say that I adore your blog and all your recipes so much so that I have now read every single page.

  57. Allison

    I’m sorry! I love, love your site and recipes, but my inner biology geek will not let this slide: yeast is a fungus, not a bacteria. There, I said it! Now off to bake some bread :)

  58. Hi Deb, I live in London but would love to come over to NYC for some baking classes at some point – especially cakes, patisserie and decorating – would you recommend ICE? Anywhere else? Thanks so much, and also for all of the blogging and baking inspiration since I’ve been a SK reader!
    April x

    1. deb

      Hi April — Sadly, I haven’t investigated any other places to take classes but many others have emerged since I’ve written this. (Restaurants, bakeries, even cookware shops do them…) It’s definitely worth looking into other options, too.

  59. Karen

    This bread was delicious and I’ll be adding it to my regular rotation. But are you sure this recipe calls for a 9 x5 loaf pan and not the smaller 8×4? Like others reported, when I made this recipe as written it produced a flat 2-inch-high half loaf – and it had risen just fine, there just wasn’t enough batter to fill the pan. I ended up freezing that loaf for bread pudding and bread crumbs and other uses where size doesn’t matter. Made another loaf at 1.5 times the original recipe and that was a perfect size for sandwiches. Just went back and measured my loaf pan – it is a 9×5. I thought I’d just pass that on in case it helps others. Thanks for the recipe though – it really is tasty and super simple.

  60. having baked this bread several times now, I can confirm that increasing the ingredients by 150% makes a lovely, tall loaf in a 9×5 pan (and it required approximately 20 extra minutes to bake, of course). my first loaf, following the recipe, still rose to almost 3 inches. I can also confirm that this bread is stunningly delicious, and I’ll be making it many, many more times. thank you!

  61. Dorie

    Hi Deb,
    this looks fantastic! As a biology teacher, I just couldn’t help myself in needing to correct your correction about what yeast is. It is a fungus, not a bacterium as someone earlier stated. Yeast do alcoholic fermentation and the carbon dioxide they release is the gas that allows the bread dough to rise. Bacteria will do lactic acid fermentation (great for yogurt, bad for bread), and no CO2 is produced, hence no bubbles in the yogurt! I’m a new addict of your web-site and I am really inspired by the recipes you have posted. Thanks for sharing them!

  62. Jeni

    For Lianne and anyone else out there with yeast temperature questions – if you don’t have a thermometer to measure the temp of your water (or milk in this recipe) you can test the temp by sticking a clean finger in the water. It should feel warm but not hot and you should be able to hold your finger in for three seconds without any “ouch!” factor. You can also use the baby bottle test and shake a few drops on to your wrist, but I prefer the finger method. Also – too hot can be really bad but too cool isn’t necessarily a problem.

  63. Meg

    I know these recipes and comments were posted a long time ago, but I’m wondering if all those who got an acidic tasting chocolate bread were using natural cocoa, and maybe the original recipe should specify dutch processed (which I believe is acid-neutralized)? I haven’t tried the recipe yet, so it’s just a guess for now — though it looks amazing!

  64. Payal

    Just set the white batter bread to rise – I realise a lifetime has passed since this recipe was first posted, but bread-making is new to me (or rather, I’m new to bread-baking) so finally decided to start with something that seemed simple. I followed the instructions, only I used bread flour instead of AP. This was definitely not a batter as much as it was a stretchy, very very soft dough. It came together like a dough and was definitely not pouring consistency. I have added a dash more milk and then scraped it into the pan where it is now rising. Will report back once risen and baked but just wanted to ask whether anyone has any idea on why the texture is so different from what it should be…

  65. Payal

    Re-attempted this recipe and conquered it at last- my first ever bread. I was clearly using warmer milk than needed and possibly killing the yeast – my previous attempt didn’t rise even though the yeast was fresh. This made a smaller loaf than I would like but that can easily be dealt with by scaling up the recipe. This was delicious, and virtually zero-effort; it impressed the husband and friends for its taste, and me for its effortlessness. All around win.

  66. Sandi

    So going to try the batter bread. The only ‘white’ bread I ever liked was Grama’s homemade with eggs and butter (which I still usually turn into honey wheat when I make it), but I have this one little problem…plain grilled cheese only tastes right to me on white bread (I blame my mother). This will be perfect!

  67. nadira

    I (ahem, we) just baked the white batter bread and it was lovely! The only change I made was multiplying the ingredients 1.5 times as a previous commentor suggested. Also previous experience with no knead breads tells me that it takes 3 cup of flour for my 9×5 pan to get a desired height. This recipe seems to be foolproofed- we made it without the mixer in the sloppiest way possible with a ten month old screaming in the background. Yet it resulted a fluffy moist bread. We baked it for 50 minutes but the top turned a little too brown for our liking. Next time will wrap a foil after 30 minutes. I used 1.5 tsp salt as per recipe but it still turned out a bit salty to me. May be next time will reduce it a bit as our little one could not stop gobbling them up. Thankyou Deb for such a hassle free bread.