Wordless Wednesday — It’s a Dog’s Life

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Stolen Stollen

The 36th recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is Stollen, a German holiday bread. Never was a bread so aptly named. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Stollen is traditionally made at Christmastime. The shape of the bread is meant to resemble a blanket in a manger. And the color (studded with candied fruit) is supposed to remind us of the gifts brought to the baby Jesus by the Magi.

Before I started this bread, I made a quick trip to the store to stock up on ingredients: candied fruit, almonds, candied citrus peel, and golden raisins. I decided to take PR’s recommendation and soak the fruit for several days before making the bread. I measure out the dried fruit, raisins, and peel (I decided to add some citrus peel); added lemon, lime, and orange oils; and then reached for the brandy.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was no brandy in the house. And no rum, either. It was a dark and stormy night, and I didn’t feel like running back to the store, so I decided to use something I had on hand. And the something I reached for? Scotch. Single malt scotch. Expensive single malt scotch. It’s not that I mind using expensive ingredients when I bake. I just wasn’t sure how fruit soaked in scotch would taste. But, it was what I had, so I decided to use it. After adding the whisky to the fruit mixture, I stirred it up and covered the bowl. I stirred the mixture several times a day for the next few days.

On baking day, I made the sponge. Since I don’t bake with milk, I mixed the sponge with warm water, flour, and yeast.

After an hour, it looked like this:

I mixed the dough and sponge for a few minutes in the Kitchen Aid (substituting buttermilk powder for the milk), let it rest for about 10 minutes, then added the fruit a little bit at a time. After kneading the dough for another 4 minutes, I put it in an oiled bowl to ferment for 45 minutes.

I patted the dough into a rectangle and sprinkled it with almonds, raisins, and dried fruit.

Then I rolled it into a batard and placed it on a baking sheet, curving the ends slightly.

I let the dough rise for about an hour-and-a-half, then baked it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. I removed the loaf from the oven, turned it for even baking, then inserted a probe thermometer into the dough and let it bake for about another 25 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 190 degrees.

Then I removed the bread from the oven and immediately brushed it with vegetable oil.

And finally sprinkled it liberally with two layers of powdered sugar.

I went off to do something else for an hour or so while the bread cooled. After about half an hour, I heard my daughters laughing and yelling at the dog (never a good sign), and I walked into the dining room to see Bailey standing on the table, licking all the powdered sugar off the bread. Here’s what it looked like when he was done:

I will say that dog saliva gives the bread a nice shine. Unfortunately, it’s not too appetizing. My mom and I were the only ones brave enough to try it (without the top crust). It had a really good flavor from the spices and nuts. And the fruit in whisky wa s interesting combination. The scotch mellowed a bit with the soaking and baking, but it still had the distinct taste of the bog where it was produced and the peat harvested there.

It really was a beautiful bread, and had it not been a sugar lick for the dog, I think it might have made an excellent bread pudding.

Not Bread, Just Bailey

What Baileys Do Best

There are a few reasons I haven’t posted much lately. We were on vacation for a week, without internet access. We had to get rid of our puppy, Riese. He was a Labradoodle, and was just too active and hard to train (a story for another post). And then came Bailey. Yes, that’s him sleeping in the picture above.

Bailey came to us from a rescue shelter. He was the only beagle, in fact the only small dog, in a house full of mastiffs. After our experience with Riese, who was so rough the kids couldn’t even go out in the backyard with him, we knew we had to take our time, do our research, and find just the right dog. When we read about him on www.petfinder.com, we thought Bailey might just fit the bill.

Playground Monitor Bailey

According to the listing, Bailey was two years old, housebroken, neutered, and great with children and other dogs.  I e-mailed Cindy, the shelter owner, and got a response back almost immediately. It seemed like she was as excited about us meeting Bailey as we were. Cindy runs Canisolida Mastiffs Foster and Retirement Home. Although she generally takes in mastiffs and other large breeds, she ended up bringing Bailey home with her from West Virginia. He was six months old at the time and had been living on the streets with a homeless man. How could she say no?

Sit Boys, Sit

Cindy offered to let us take Bailey for the weekend. She said she’d call on Sunday evening, and would come pick him up if we didn’t think it was going to work out. And even if we did decide to keep him, she said she would give us two weeks to make a final decision. She brought Bailey to our house on Thursday afternoon, and by Thursday evening, we had made our decision.

Movin' Into Our Hearts and Home

I probably took 50 pictures of Bailey in the first two days he was here. He was probably sleeping in 45 of them. It is amazing to me that he literally just moved into this house like he had always belonged here. Cindy told me later that she felt the same thing: when they walked in the door, she could tell Bailey was home.

Peek-a-Boo

Bailey loves to go for walks in the neighborhood, and is so gentle on his lead that my five-year-old can control him. He loves to snuggle (obviously) and is always ready to give a kiss or a wet nose. He is playful but not at all aggressive. The girls are completely taken with him. And the feeling appears to be mutual.

I’m tempted to say he’s the perfect dog, but no dog’s perfect. I have a chewed up pillow to prove it. But we weren’t looking for perfect. Just perfect for us. And that’s just what we found in Bailey.

King of the Slide

Update: August 8, 2009

That last paragraph proved all too prophetic. Here are some photos showing what we came home to the first time we left Bailey home alone for about an hour.

Room with a View

You Needed New Curtains Anyway

Now I See     Who Made This Mess

Who, Me