10/26/12

Interview with Artisan Bread in Five authors + Giveaway!

I am extremely pleased to have the dynamic duo behind best selling cookbooks: artisan bread in five minutes a day, healthy bread in five minutes a day and artisan pizza & flatbread in five minutes a day.  Clearly this bread-genius duo has it down pat when it comes to artisan breads.  Artisan breads made lighting fast I might add.


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Praise for artisan bread in 5:

“Soon the bread will be making itself…..the crust, full-flavored loaf that results may be the worlds easiest yeast bread.” – New York Times

“I love it when someone challenges conventional wisdom…and wins!  Zoe and Jeff will have you baking bread in less time than it takes to make toast…” – Stephen Durfee, CIA & James Beard Award winner.

No more working all day with yeasty breads, five minutes a day is all you need to have the same exact high-quality artisan bread you see in bakeries, bread shops, high-end grocery…this can finally all be done at home—even for all those home cooks who are, shall we say, yeast-challenged?

Bio on Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. -  has been a physician, university professor, information technology consultant, and ardent amateur baker.  He developed a love of great bread while growing up in NYC in the 60’s & 70’s.  He refined his love of baking with travels through France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Britain and Morocco.  He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two daughters.

Bio on Zoe Francois – she is a pastry chef and baker. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America.  In addition to teaching baking and pastry in the Twin Cities and consulting to restaurants, Zoe creates artful desserts and custom wedding cakes.  She also has the famous baking blog: zoebakes.com.  She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and two sons. 

Zoe and Jeff have a bread blog too!  http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/ 


Given both your backgrounds, how did you two meet? 

Jeff:  Yes, our backgrounds are different, but we both spent some time at home with kids when they were little—we met because our toddlers were in a music class together.

Zoe:  Kids are the best for bringing people together, we have them to thank for this endeavor.

How did you come up with the whole “bread in 5” concept?

Jeff:  Necessity was the mother of invention.  I was a busy medical resident who loved bread, and my wife taught me the traditional method so I could make my beloved rye bread in my spare time.  Since I had zero spare time, I had to economize on lengthy steps, and ultimately, what really saved time was making a large batch of dough and using it over a week or more.  Otherwise there’s too much prep, mixing, and cleaning bowls.  It takes wet dough to do that (but not too wet), and getting it just right was the hard work of these books.    

I love that part of Zoe’s background involves creating ice cream cakes at Ben & Jerry’s.  Is this where you found your love of baking?

Zoe:  When I was going to college in Burlington, Vermont I wanted to work at Ben & Jerry’s, because they gave their employees free pints of ice cream after every shift. I also discovered cake decorating at that job.

Jeff, did you set out to be an MD?  Were all your travels in and around Europe what made you really what to delve deeper into baking?  Or did you have your eyes set on bread making?

Jeff:  Sure did, I went straight from college to med school, and I expected to practice adult medicine and do research, maybe in a part-time academic practice.  But after a few years in practice, I got interested in computers in health care, trained in a research fellowship, and started a consulting practice in health care computing.  That freed up my time for family, hobbies, and delving into other interests.  Like bread-baking. 

Photo by Mark Luinenburg
Sticky_pecan_caramel_roll
sticky pecan rolls, pg. 187

Have you two thought about opening a bread shop? I’m certain it would do very well.

Jeff:  Well, it might, but the concern is that we might throw the baking pans at each other!  Seriously, I’m not sure I was destined to work that hard.  Providing great food to customers is hard, hard work with long hours, and I have so much respect for people who do it.  I’m just not sure it’s right for me. 

Zoe:  I’m not graceful enough early in the morning to open a bakery, and what Jeff said about the flying pans is probably true!  ;)

Jeff- when creating recipes, did your medical training ever come in handy?

Jeff:  It turns out that recipe-testing is a lot like the scientific method.  You have a best guess about what will work, you do some experiments, and if they don’t produce what you expected, you refine your guess—and change the ingredients list! 

When shopping around for agents for your first book--A part of me wants to say it must have been easy with such a great “bread in 5 minutes” concept, but then I think it could have also have been hard selling such a concept to an agent?  Which one was it?

Jeff:  Our agent, Jane Dystel, was sold on the concept immediately, along with our editor at Thomas Dunne Books, the late Ruth Cavin.  Without Jane and Ruth—no book series for us.  They were sure that if the method actually worked, people would flock to it.  And for some reason, they believed us, without ever having made the bread themselves.  The proof came from our readers, who propelled the book by word of mouth (we have about 500,000 copies in print for all three titles). 

Zoe: Lynne Rosetto Kasper (NPR’s The Splendid Table) generously introduced us to her agent, Jane Dystel. It is difficult to get a book idea in front of an agent these days, so we feel incredibly lucky.

Was there “bread making” research involved?  Where does one go or look for that?

Jeff:  Of course!  We both love travel, and whatever we eat and love when we’re traveling with our families, we try to recreate with our stored dough.  Between us, we’ve spent time in France, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Britain, and Greece—all countries with great traditional bread cultures.  Samples from those places are all over our books.  And of  course, there’s more mundane research, eating all the good bread we can find in our local bakeries, and reading everything on the subject that we can get our hands on.

Zoe:  The “research” is why I’m in this business. It is now officially my job to eat bread everywhere I go.  What a glorious line of work. Developing a recipe to recreate a particular loaf of bread I’ve fallen in love with is where the challenge comes in.

Zoe: your food blog at zoebakes.com, is stunning and creative; where do you find time to create recipes there?  Which ones are your favorite to create?

Zoe: Wow, thank you! Zoebakes.com is my playground for sweets, and where I go to relax. I have an insatiable sweet tooth, so baking desserts just seems to find its way into my daily routine. I like to recreate desserts I might find in a restaurant, but in a way people can easily do at home. Which means lots of step-by-step photos.

Any recipes you had a hard time with?  Which recipes were the easiest to create?  Any recipes that didn’t make the cut?

Zoe: The gluten-free breads in our books were the most challenging to develop. They use a list of ingredients I was not used to and techniques that are quite different from traditional breads.  Not only did the recipes have to taste great, but they had to be fast and easy to use. I am thrilled to say we did just that.

Favorite creation in the books?

Jeff:  Provencal Roasted Red Pepper Fougasse, a folded flatbread that’s visually stunning and unbelievably savory.  Don’t forget the salt!

Zoe: One of my favorite recipes in the book is the “Bostock,” and for some reason I don’t think many people have tried it.  It is almond cream rolled up in brioche and baked with an almond crunch topping. Simply divine.

I love that when I do these interviews with food authors I get to find out that most of their recipes were/are created by simply what they were craving!
Can this be true of you two as well when creating Artisan Pizza in 5 Minutes and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes?

Jeff:  That is exactly it for me.  I moved to Minneapolis in 1987 and couldn’t find New York deli-style rye bread that I’d grown up with.  So I had to learn to make it myself. 

Zoe: That’s why we continue to create more recipes; the cravings and inspiration just never go away.

Who are/were your taste-testers?

Jeff:  Friends, family, and each other.

Zoe: My mom was my first tester. I knew if she could do it, anyone could. She was not much of a baker until she started making our bread. Now she bakes almost daily.

Photo by Mark Luinenburg
European_Peasant_Bread,_smaller
european peasant bread, pg. 46

What other foods do you two enjoy?

Jeff:  I love Vietnamese, French, Italian, and Mexican.  Underneath it all, the blend of influences that has made American food so interesting right now. 

Zoe: I intend to spend my life figuring out this question. I love to eat.

Favorite places to travel just for the food?

Jeff:  France, hands down.

Zoe: Turkey or Italy or France or NYC or San Francisco or Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis.  There is good food to be had in nearly every town.

If you were stranded on a desert island and had the choice of one (or two) comfort foods—what would they be?

Jeff:  Rye bread with sweet butter

Zoe: Ice cream and fresh baguettes (Assuming coffee will already be on the island).

Favorite chefs? And did both of you get to meet any of your favorite chefs while on book tours? 

Jeff:  James Beard, because of Beardon Bread.  Like Julia Child in Mastering the Art…, James was saying that great homemade food doesn’t need to be hard for amateurs to achieve.  He fitted his bread recipes so they’d sit on two facing sheets, which influenced us greatly.  James never experimented with stored dough, but I like to think he’d have been open to it. 

Zoe: Oh, I have been influenced by so many pastry chefs and have had the enormous good fortune to meet several of them: Dorie Greenspan, Abby Dodge, Sherry Yard, Nancy Silverton, Michelle Gayer, Stephen Durfee and many, many more. Their work and generosity has inspired my career.

In your downtime what do you like to do?

Jeff:  Travel, eat, cook, run, and bike.  Bike commuting’s my new thing.

Zoe: Down time??? I don’t understand the question. ;)

Any advice to your fans who wish to someday get published?  

It takes more than hard work and a good idea.  You need a bit of luck.  We had a unique idea, but if we hadn’t had some luck—getting the New York Times, the Today Show, and Associated Press to cover us—the book would never have gotten wide exposure.  But if you have a unique cooking idea, and you’re willing to do the networking to get the idea out there, you have a shot.  And self-publishing may make it easier to break into this business—don’t discount that.

Dare I ask—is there a fourth book in the works?  And will it be bread-related?  There is!  But alas, the publisher will kill us if we talk about it so early in its development…

Thank you both for the interview.

For the giveaway:
one lucky person will win one copy of each of their books (3 books total)
please leave a comment telling us what kind of homemade bread you'd like to make or have made.
one comment per person please. 
no anonymous comments please; have a valid name & email in signature line!
we'll do the drawing on Friday November 2, 2012.

81 comments:

  1. I would love to learn how to make sourdough bread!

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  2. i love making homemade bread- my favorite is whole wheat cinnamon raisin.

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  3. I have made some French Honey bread in the bread machine, and also some whole heat. but, I would LOVE to learn how to make sourdough!

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  4. I Just posted about this book yesterday!!! I wrote about how I am getting into bread-making, am obsessed with all things bread, and had just ordered this book and it just arrived! The original/first book - would love to check out the others!

    And what a great interview. Since I grew up in MN, I feel sort of an automatic kinship with the authors, too!

    I have been on a homemade bread making rampage from cinn swirl to rolls to wheat.

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  5. Rye bread would b amazing to make at home. Breads are something I struggle with when it comes to cooking.

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  6. Wow, didn't realize they had 3 books. My copy of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day is hands-down my most used and favorite cookbook. I've made about half of the recipes. This book was a game changer for me. I'd always wanted to learn how to bake bread but was intimidated by old-school methods of kneading, rising, kneading again, etc. I've shared this book with many friends who've since bought their own copies. I can't say enough about the original and would *love* to add the other books to my collection. Awesome interview Dawn!

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  7. The favorite bread I make is marbled rye. I'm pretty sure it rivals the Seinfeld version :)

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  8. I've made all kinds of bread! Some from their book and some make it and cook it that day. We are huge bread eaters in this house. I had no idea there was a pizza book out!!!!!

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  9. When I used to live in New Orleans, there was a place where I would often pick up a loaf of pecan sweet potato bread. I've been meaning to try a version of that but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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  10. i'm a huge fan of rye and pumpernickel, but never attempted them. bucket list!

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  11. Thank you for posting this fun interview! I make ABin5 bread almost every day, mostly mini-baguettes, which my husband takes to work for lunch. I have them for breakfast (with butter and jam) or lunch (with cheese or a cup of leftover soup). We have them for dinner. I want to win because I want to give these books as gifts! I already have my copies, but so many people envy my ability to make such good bread, and I tell them it's really not hard at all.

    Ruth Hoffman
    rch@language-resources.com

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  12. Definitely Olive Bread, I love olives!!

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  13. I'd love to make some French Honey Bread...drooling now. Great giveaway!

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  14. I'd love to make sourdough bread. It's my favorite kind.


    Sean connsean@yahoo.com

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  15. I recently made a super easy baguette and it was fabulous. I love all homemade bread!

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  16. definitely cinnamon raisin! :) toasted w/ butter?! uh maze ing

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  17. I make a bunch of plain sandwich breads, but I quite like their yeasted thanksgiving cornbread with cranberries, and will probably make it again this year!

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  18. I would love to make a mild jalapeno cheddar.

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  19. This method sounds wonderful and easy. Love the smell of bread baking in the house (and so do my family, friends and neighbors)!

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  20. Sourdough is next on my list!

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  21. I would love a bread that includes roasted garlic. Yum!

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  22. I love some cinnamon raisin bread. yum!

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  23. Mmm I'd like to bake challah! or a really crusty hearty bread.

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  24. I love making all kinds of bread, but my favorite is California nut bread. It's so great with almond butter and preserves!

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  25. I love making herb bread and rolls, as well as crusty baguettes!

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  26. Wow! This book sounds amazing!! I would love to try something thick and hearty with a layer of butter and jam - not to mention how good it would make my house smell..

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  27. I love a good sourdough!

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  28. My fav is the soft white bread from the artisan bread book (actually have some in the oven right now). It is our go to bread for sandwiches. Have been wanting to try out the pizza book. Thanks!

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  29. would love to make rye bread with kosher salt on top!

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  30. I love making all sorts of cinnamon rolls (pumpkin, caramel apple, sticky...) but I'm dying to try sourdough!

    rachellconners@yahoo.com

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  31. I love making biscuits, and fruit breads with what is in season, apples, blueberries, cranberries. They are nice snacks for the kids. I also enjoy making yeast breads. Really, there is not much better than a fresh baked loaf of bread, whatever the kind!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    elkjohnson@gmail.com

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  32. Sourdough with a hard crust!

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  33. I would love to make a great whole grain bread.

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  34. I would love to make the European peasant bread. I love making breads from around the world.
    I look up bread recipes from different country's and try to duplicate them so I would love to have these in my collection. WOW!
    cjbrickley@ymail.com

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  35. I make the master recipe for pizza once a week and the master boule recipe for special occasions- like chili in bread bowls and spinach dip bread bowls. These recipes have changed my life and I am so happy they are local to MN as well!!! Woot-woot!

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  36. I make hamburger buns but would love to learn how to make sourdough bread!

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  37. I would love to make an asiago cheese type bread!

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  38. i'd love to learn how to make cinnamon rolls!

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  39. I am a big fan; their Pizza and Flatbread book has made my life SO much easier - with teens in the house we almost always have dough ready to go for spontaneous get togethers! I would love to branch out however, and maybe try a brioche kind of dough...

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  40. I love semolina bread dipped in creamy tomato pesto soup....I'm obsessed!! Thank you!!!!!

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  41. When I make homemade bread, I almost always make whole wheat bread. Still looking for a really good recipe.

    dianeconstan@gmail.com

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  42. Bread is my downfall.
    This post is making my mouth water.
    I make rolls more often than I make bread, but I'd really like to make challah. Or rye...any kind of rye. My attempts at making rye in the past haven't turned out too well, so I'd really like to try out the rye recipes in these cookbooks!

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  43. Rye and Sourdough are the breads I would like to master! :)

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  44. Amanda Thompson10/26/12, 11:34 PM

    I would love to learn how to make sourdough bread.

    adb6{at}humboldt{dot}edu

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  45. i've been dying to make sourdough!

    corisa
    jubinsky2114@yahoo.com

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  46. I'd like to replicate Trader Joes Tuscan Pane. I just found this duo last week and have been making their master recipe ever since. Really daily my family has had this bread and loves it. I would love their cookbooks. Love, love Jeff and Zoe! Thanks for the post.

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  47. I really enjoyed reading this interview! I'd love to make a hearty whole grain bread.

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  48. Thanks for getting and publishing this interview. I am a big ABin5 fan - learned lots about the science of breadmaking. I would love to make a good well-risen, whole grain sourdough bread.

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  49. I've made a lot of challah in my day. Yum.

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  50. Cinnamon rolls are my fave!

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  51. I love rye and olive bread!

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  52. I would love to learn how to make a soft cinnamon swirl bread, gluten free! :-)

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  53. Just like the authors I too live in MN! I love making bread and the next kind I would like to make is some kind of honey wheat.

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  54. great interview!!

    I love cinnamon raisin bread!

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  55. I love making all kinds of bread. I have never made rye bread though, and would love to give it a try.

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  56. I would love to win all three of their books! Great interview! Thanks Dawn. jenhartin at optonline dot net

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  57. I learned how to make all types of bread in Pastry School except for Gluten-Free so I would love to learn how to make that.

    wimbley73@aol.com

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  58. English Muffin bread
    Mary
    mtl166@verizon.net

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  59. I've made all kinds of bread since starting out years ago with a booklet from Fleishmann's Yeast, then moving on to "Beard on Bread". I've done all the variations of No Knead Bread. A couple of days ago I made pretzel rolls. There are a couple varieties of sourdough starters in my frig. I'd love to see the GF recipes in the latest book. lfmelcher at gmail dot com

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  60. My favorite bread to make is pretzel bread for my husband. I don't make it very often, but you'd swear it was Christmas when I do!!

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  61. Wow, that European peasant bread looks amazing! Their books are on my wish list for the holidays.

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  62. I'd made raisin oatmeal bread before for my mom. Now i would like to try making cinnamon roll which are our favourites! :)

    email:ilovefood_99@hotmail.com

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  63. I really like making cinnamon rolls they are yummy delicious! I would also like to make beer bread and pretzel buns!

    Cathie

    csgoettsche@yahoo.com

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  64. My boyfriend and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary by baking bread together. We made a Focaccia loaf that had basil and Kalamata olives on one side and oregano and Asiago cheese on the other side.

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  65. I love to make french bread as well as my grandmother's recipe for tray buns. There's nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking!

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  66. i have a simple whole wheat quick bread that i love. and i would like to get into baking w/ yeast more and just don't have the time so i would love to win the books.

    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT net

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  67. I love the crispy, light French bagette type rolls that bahn mi are made on and would love to know how to acheive that crispy, thin crust and chewy center. Yum!

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  68. I'd like to try Boston Brown Bread
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

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  69. When I was younger we would make whole wheat loves in my mom's bread machine

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  70. I'd like to make a marbled or filled bread...dense grainy bread with a spicy chunky figgy swirl inside. Cheers!

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  71. I would love to learn how to make Epi French Bread! Yum!!

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  72. I enjoy experimenting with all kinds of ingredients, but my most popular breads have been sourdough, harvest, and pinto bean bread. It's hard to choose a favorite. :-)

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  73. I'd like to learn how to make a crispy french baguette.

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  74. I would love to learn how to make cinnamon raisin bread. I want to know what the trick is to getting everything in the correct proportion and distributed evenly without having a loaf that could be used to build a house.

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  75. I love everything bread!!! But especially would like to learn how to make a superior sourdough bread. thechattymom at hotmail dot com

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  76. Great interview! Those sticky buns look quite heavenly. I'd love to learn how to make a really good sourdough.

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  77. Bread is my favorite food! I just subscribed to your blog this week when Kevin from CLoset Cooking retweeted one of your tweets and I love your blog!

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  78. I love making Portuguese sweet bread in my bread maker or the 5 minutes a day bread

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  79. I'd love to know how to make sourdough!!

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