The third eight weeks of shelter-in-place stress baking with Jill

This is the hot time of the year where I live, so I had to make some adjustments for the inevitable heat waves and otherwise hot weather. But I still have recipes to try!

Week Seventeen: Hokkaido Milk Bread and Butterflake Herb Laof

My wife is a savory girl, not a sweets girl and I’d felt bad that I’d been sitting on a recipe for something that she’d like and not making it.

The recipe for Milk Bread has you making about twice as much roux as you need. So I figured it was a good time to make another loaf of milk bread, and since the Butterflake Herb Loaf recipe is also basically a milk bread, I could do two recipes with one roux.

I ended up using the Milk Bread recipe for both loaves of bread, just adjusting the sugar down and the salt up for the butterflake herb loaf version.

It turned out really good. If it’s just going to be my wife and I eating it, then I probably need to make it as a meal, because that’s what’s going to happen regardless.

Week Eighteen: Teacakes and Pain d’épices

Teacakes are something my wife will ask for on a regular basis. They are great with butter or clotted cream, there’s no eggs in them, and they are the right amount of sweet for my wife’s preferences.

I wanted to try Pain d’épices because I like spices and the recipe looked interesting.

I ended up burning the top of the Pain d’épices a bit, but it turned out interesting. It’s got rye flour and honey and pepper and stuff in it, so it was a burst of flavor.

Week Nineteen: Walnut wheat bread and a giant failure

I’ve been accused of cooking the books. By my mother, no less. She was having batch after batch of her wheat breads come out dense and fallen towards the center.

But this week, I made two recipes, but somehow I managed to screw up and one of them resulted in me tossing a lump of dough into the trash because it completely failed to rise.

I was trying to make Georgian Spice Bread, but I didn’t manage to pull it off.


On the other hand, I started with maple walnut oat bread, where I replaced the maple syrup with honey and skipped out on the maple flavoring, turned out pretty tasty.

Week Twenty: Raisin bread and Cheese Monkey Bread

I did a bunch of substitutions around the monkey bread recipe, mostly because my wife doesn’t eat bacon, so it was more of a cheese-pull-apart bread.

The raisin bread was really good. My wife was skeptical for several days before she finally tried it, and then decided it was pretty tasty.

Week Twenty-One: Wheat sandwich bread and butter paneer pizza

If you came over to the US from India a few decades ago as a vegetarian, there weren’t really a whole lot of options available for you. There weren’t many Indians or Vegetarians in general.

On the other hand, there’s pizza and it’s loaded with dairy. Nobody looks at you funny if you ask for a cheese pizza. And it’s even normal to grab the jar of crushed red pepper and spice it up. (Although, if you unscrew the top to get the level of spicy you really wanted, they start to stare).

Thus, it’s a completely natural thing for Indian pizza restaurants to exist, in the spirit of cultural interchange.

I accidentally broke my poor spouse’s brain.

See, sometimes everything comes together nicely and I get happy yeasty bois in my kitchen, rising at a rapid pace. And sometimes I have more hesitant little creations that want to sit and slowly ponder existence.

It helps that I’ve got a straight-sided rectangular dish to use as a rising container so I can see more easily measure if it’s doubled or not.

So, at some point, I mentioned this, and then I told her about the bit that’s always stuck with me from God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell where the main character is taught how to cast an incantation while helping out in the kitchen to make the bread rise faster. And so the main character’s bread rises the fastest, but when they cut it open, they discovered that it had developed rudimentary internal organs and stuff so nobody ever asked her to help in the kitchen again.

Meanwhile, this particular yeasty boi is so excited that it’s overflowed the pan.

So, my wife glimpses this and screams “MY HUSBAND MADE A YEAST MONSTER!” and runs from the room, horrified by the idea that I’ll cut into it and she’ll see internal organs.

It didn’t help that, two days later, I told her that, by eating around the crust, she was a wily hunter, penetrating the creature’s harsh exoskeleton to reach the delicious bread-meat inside.

Oh, and the pizza was also quite good.

Week Twenty-Two: English Muffins and Crumpets

This was… quite a week.

So, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Also, there’s a heat wave, unseasonably early, because of global warming. Even worse: There’s a lightning storm. We don’t get lightning storms here.

Therefore, any amusement of “Oh, wow, lightning storm!” was dampened by the giant set of forest fires that were sparked, because it was mostly lightning bolts and barely any rain.

I was trying to avoid turning on the oven. Simultaneously, my wife had mentioned that the previous week, she’d seen English muffins in the store and was kinda craving some but didn’t buy any because it seemed redundant given that I was making bread.

And I realized that you don’t need to use the oven to make English muffins.

It turns out that, yeah, it’s pretty easy to make English muffins. They don’t quite have the holes that commercial varieties have, which might be a recipe tweaking exercise.

Week Twenty-Three: Rye English muffins and Cinnamon pull-apart bread

After the previous batch, I found another English muffin recipe that I really really wanted to try, with rye flour.

And I figured I should try a peel-apart bread that’s sweet instead of savory. I used my collection of various sugars to make it properly enticingly pornographic.

Week Twenty-Four: Raisin bread and banana muffins

The group was saved from me reminding them that it was week 24 by the fact that none of us were feeling that good.

I decided I wanted my wife to know what the Cinnamon Raisin bread tasted like fresh, so I casually baked a loaf of it. And then made some banana muffins mid-week with the bananas that my wife had forgotten to eat before they got all brown.

The banana muffin recipe is pretty much diverged from the recipe I started with that I should write up a recipe page for at some point because it’s so far from the original recipe that if I write up a long story about love, lust, hate, longing, and banana bread and paste it at the top, it’s not really copying.


I notice that I baked fewer things, mostly because it’s been really hot and the air conditioner can’t keep up with it.

At the same time, peel apart breads and English muffins were a great discovery.

It’s really quite something to be in the middle of a pandemic, a heat wave, wildfires, and social unrest… understanding that there is no single mask that is designed to prevent virus-laden aerosols from being transmitted outwards plus absorbing both tear gas and wildfire smoke particles and none of this actually comes as a surprise to folks who have been paying attention to what scientists have been warning us about.

I still have a bunch of recipes to try in my list. So I guess the baking will continue until the morale improves?