Despite a rather strong body of opinion, man does not live by bread alone. At least not this man anyway. Variety is the spice of life. All bread and no cake makes Jack a dull boy. You pick the adage. Every once in a while my sweet tooth gets the best of me and I succumb to the sugar beast that dwells within.

Every year, in December, my office feeds itself. From about the 5th of the month on, one person brings breakfast and another brings a snack. Thankfully, no one has shown up with Graham Crackers, little containers of milk and collapsible paper straws I picked a Monday breakfast so that I would have all weekend to play with their food. Blueberry muffins, raisin bran muffins, cinnamon raisin bread, stolen, cranberry scones and cherry scones were on the menu.

Loaf of stolen with powdered sugar

I'm 1/2 Dutch. The Dutch version of the Dreaded Christmas Fruitcake is called Stolen. The Doyen of Dough, Peter Reinhart, has a new book called [product="6209"]The Bread Bakers Apprentice Mastering The Art Of Extraordinary Bread [/product] . In it there is a recipe for stolen. I couldn't resist.

Loaf of stolen cut in half

My sister is not going to believe it, but it's actually good! It starts with a very strong sponge made with 4 tsps of yeast. You need the boost to power all the fruit and nuts in the bread. I couldn't find candied fruit so I used dried instead. I soaked it in brandy overnight. I think I like it better this way.

Loaf of cinnamon raisin bread

The Cinnamon Raisin bread is also from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It's a straight dough that is pretty easy to put together. It's got walnuts in it for a little extra character.

Sliced cinnamon raisin bread

You might not believe it from these pics, but there is actually a cinnamon-sugar swirl through the crumb. After the dough has fermented you form it into a rectangle, cover it with cinnamon-sugar and roll it up. I need to be more aggressive next time.

Pan of sliced cinnamon raisin bread and stolen

I think they make a handsome couple, don't you? All laid out for my omnivorous colleagues.

Raisin bran muffins

The other new addition to my library is [product="16695"]The Bakers Dozen Cookbook Become A Better Baker With 135 Foolproof Recipes And Tried And True Techniques [/product] . More details about the book in the Reading Room. These raisin bran muffins are very moist and keep well. Lots of molasses.

Raisin bran muffins

Hard to believe I couldn't find fresh blueberries in NYC in December! I used frozen for these. The only problem seemed to be bleeding. Maybe if I rinse the frozen berries next time. They tasted good and I got to use my long neglected muffin tins. I want to figure out how to get more of a dome on my muffins. Both types were kinda flat across the top.

Blueberry muffins

On a list of my favorite things, scones would be pretty close to the top. These days, it seems that there is a contest among retailers to see who can create the biggest scone. This leads to large air-filled tasteless scones. Scones should be more like sweet biscuits. Small, moist and a little on the fragile side.

Pan of scones


This recipe, from [product="16695"]The Bakers Dozen Cookbook Become A Better Baker With 135 Foolproof Recipes And Tried And True Techniques [/product] , produces an almost wet dough. They bake up nice and light. You can add anything you want to the dough. I used dried cherries in one batch and dried cranberries in another.

Tray of assorted baked goods

One big happy family