Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dill Bread and a simple lesson

Dill bread cooling

This morning on the R train uptown, three men in their mid-40's got on and sat down a few seats away from us.  They were recounting something humorous that had transpired between one of them and a manager at work.  They were all laughing so hard they were crying.  Roman was fixated.  He quickly started bellowing with laughter in unison with the three men.  The other train passengers quickly noticed the little two-year old sharing their humor-- quite literally laughing for the sake of laughing.  Soon the whole subway car was observing and I think it's fair to say that he had officially brightened the morning of twenty strangers.  It was priceless.


Now about this bread.  I clicked the oven light on and crouched down with nervous anticipation in front of the oven window. So far so good. I had been in this same spot on the kitchen floor the previous Sunday with the same two loaves baking, filling my apartment with a warm dilly aroma. My hopes were totally dashed when I took the bread out to cool. Both loaves deflated, and my ego along with them.  We all have kitchen disappointments.   Sometimes there's no good explanation.  Seven days later I rolled up my sleeves and gave it another go and I nailed it the second time. 

Dill Bread

But I was left asking myself, do I really place so much of my sense of self worth in my culinary creations? Now it strikes me that I could be so petty.  I had actually let it ruin a few hours of my day!  I think Roman was trying to teach me something on the train this morning.  Come on, laugh a little.  

Dill bread

Dill Bread
Makes two loaves

As breads go, this is super healthy, using only whole wheat flour and packed full of two cups of cottage cheese.  It's not every day you find both calcium and protein in a bread.  And talk about fragrant.  It's terrific for a savory breakfast with eggs, or toasted for lunch with some fresh tomato and cheese slices.  I hope you'll try your hand at it.  It's not a difficult bread to make.  This was one of my mom's regular breads.  I'm really not sure where the recipe originally came from so I cannot correctly attribute the source.

2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
2 cups large-curd cottage cheese
3 tablespoons honey
6 teaspoons minced fresh onion
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons dill weed
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, unbeaten
4 to 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and stir in one teaspoon of honey.  Set aside to proof. 

In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, 3 tablespoons honey, onion, butter, dill weed, salt and baking soda.  Add the yeast mixture and stir.  Then add the eggs and stir again. 

Add enough flour to make a stiff dough, stirring well after each addition.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough feels smooth and elastic.  If the dough seems too sticky, add more flour.  Place in a greased bowl, turn once more to coat the top, cover with a dish towel and place in a warm spot to rise to double, about one hour.  

Punch down the inflated dough and knead gently for 1 to 2 minutes.  Let rest for a few minutes and then shape into two loaves.  (I follow James Beard's method to shape loaves: pat the dough into a rectangle and then roll it up, pinching the bottom to close, and place bottom side down into the buttered loaf pans.)  Cover and let rise to double in a warm spot, about 45 minutes. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Cool on wire racks. 


  1. This is a lesson i've had to learn many times, just smile, let it go, and try again next time. It's amazing how much pressure we can put on ourselves while in the kitchen, at times you need to stop and remember why exactly it is you love cooking in the first place and let the joy back in. The bread looks delicious!

  2. Like my friend Maggie, new to baking, says, "Don't fret. It's only bread." If it didn't work, pitch it and try again later. It's o.k. I love your story of Roman on the train, infusing the whole car with his laughter. I've got a bunch of dillweed microgreens springing up in a sunny patch in my front yard that I should snip and bake into your bread.

  3. what a wonderful story and what a contagious thing is the kids' laughter... i love our pillow fight nights because it infuses me with an extra dose of that laughter!

  4. A great story and love how children grasp the best attitude to have way sooner than us adults do! I love this! I made a dill bread thirty years ago shaped like a grape or something; like yours much more!

  5. I totally understand you! I am also placing a disproportionate importance on dishes turning out well. When I burn something or otherwise produce a bad dish I mop around the house thinking there is nothing I can do well...

    It's good you persevered, because that bread looks amazing!

  6. I think Roman taught us all a little something. I know I'm smiling.

  7. Laughter is very contagious...thankfully it can grow and grow until everyone is happy. Beautiful Dill Bread.

  8. Sometimes we learn the best lessons in life from the little ones; as their worlds are just filled with fun and simplicity and definitely borderless! We tend to be confined by too much rules and regulations in the universe, that we forget about the simplest things in life :)
    Like yawn, laughter is simply contagious, and your kid just sounds so adorable!;)

  9. What a cute story, and thanks to Roman for brightening these commuters' day! This bread looks interesting--I usually don't make savory breads (other than plain bread which I make all the time) but I should try it out a bit more.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...