June 1st HBinFive Bread Braid

It's a busy time of year, and I'm really struggling to make time for baking and writing. I'm determined to keep up here, though, with our HBinFive assignments.

Last week was nearly 90 degrees and humid most days, and I still had that oven going. Is that crossing a line into being fanatical? Husband had a look of alarm on his face when he came home from work, noticing I had the oven on. He didn't complain too much, however, when he was savoring his slice of focaccia sitting out on the patio.

The Cherry and Black Pepper Focaccia was wonderful, just as everyone said it is. I put all the topping on mine, so pressing the cherries into the dough didn't work. As a result, the cherries and shallots were falling off with each bite, but we just put them right back on.

This recipe reminds me of a carmelized grape focaccia that Metropolitan Bakery sells. It also has that sweet and savory flavor combination. I was thinking about trying to experiment with grapes in the Fall.

I know some of you weren't happy with your Cinnamon-Raisin Whole Wheat Bagels. You were disappointed by the uneven shape and bumpy appearance. I know at least one of you really disliked the mess the process created.

I suppose I'm not a perfectionist because I was quite forgiving with all those faults. I've made the bagels from ABinFive, so this was my second time around. The results were pretty similar as I recall--same bumpy texture. The fact that they were recognizable as bagels and tasted more or less like bagels was satisfying enough for now.

I organized my mise en place as they say, so I just chugged along with my dunking and boiling. The only thing I wouldn't do again is boil such a large pot of water. I couldn't fit any more than 4 or 5 bagels at a time in the pot anyway, so next time I'd just use my 5 qt. stockpot. I spent forever waiting for that 10qt. pot of water to boil.

Not being a lover of sweet bagels, and since raisins are not going into anything that is meant for O. to share, I made these plain.

Husband and O. loved them. The only thing Husband wanted to know is why they weren't puffy like professionally made bagels. I said I don't know the science of what makes bakery bagels puffy.

The Moon and Stars Bread was pretty to make. Yes, it's the same bread as the master loaf, but I enjoy entertaining myself with different shapes. O. loved looking at it.

Heat and all, I enjoyed myself with this assignment. What's a little perspiration endured for good bread?