Dear Sunset: Quick Bread in a Bottle Revisited

Dear, we need to talk. Up until now, I’ve enjoyed your decorating ideas, your style tips and your recipes. But recently, I came across an article of yours that left me feeling a little, well, bereft. I think you know what this is about. It’s about your Quick Bread in a Bottle. You teased me with a picture of a beautiful glass bottle and put that adorable little label on the front, but then you ended the article too soon, with only the barest of details for making it myself.

In my quest to duplicate your amazing looking bottles, I’ve had to venture out on my own to find answers to the questions you so cruelly left me with.

The first question I had was where can I find some of those bottles you used, without spending a small fortune.

After spending an unsuccessful day looking for an “independent food market,” and not willing to spend $22 per bottle at an antique mall, I thought about what you said about using quart-size canning jars.  But let’s face it, they just don’t have the same wow factor as the glass milk bottles.  Otherwise you would have had a canning jar in the picture, right?

I did find these plastic bottles in my local grocery store and wondered if they would work.

So I gave it a try.

But here’s the thing about plastic bottles. They may look like their glass counterparts, but they don’t act like them. No matter how carefully I packed those ingredients in there, the sugar and flour kept sneaking down the sides to hang out with the brown sugar and the rolled oats.  That’s not what it looked like in your picture.

So I went in search of glass bottles again, this time on the internet. After a bit of Googling, I found what I was looking for:  a dozen quart sized traditional glass milk bottles for $26.95 plus $7.95 shipping from Hoegger Supply Company. That works out to be about $2.91 per bottle. Music to my pocketbook. (UPDATE January 2014: after a long absence, the bottles are available again, but at $59.95, the price has more than doubled…please leave a comment below if you find another source!)  (Another UPDATE November 2014: Thanks to Lindsey Steinkamp, who was kind enough to leave a comment below with another source for the milk bottles!)

And I’m happy to say that I didn’t have to wait long for the bottles to arrive from Hoegger, even with standard shipping. I ordered them on Tuesday, and they arrived on Friday.

The bottle issue resolved, my next question was how did you get all those ingredients to fit in there?

I tried to “tamp each layer well,” but those ingredients refused to play nice and squeeze themselves into the bottle all at once.  I secretly suspect that you only used 1/2 cup of oats, to have so much room left at the top of the bottle, but that’s okay. I was finally able to get the ingredients to cooperate, with no omissions. The key was using a wooden dowel, which I just happened to have on hand. You could also use the bottom of a wooden spoon, or really any object with a flat bottom that’s long enough to put through the opening.

I used a paper funnel to get the ingredients in the bottle, and then I layered them in the order listed below.  I also split the 2 cups of flour so I would have seven layers, like you did.

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Just before adding the chocolate chips, I used a mini-spatula to get the flour off the sides of the glass, and then a paper towel around the neck. That made the glass at the top sparkly clean, like yours, so the next two layers weren’t looking through a foggy haze of flour.

I used the dowel again lightly to compact the mini chocolate chips and then the walnuts.  To my amazement, all the ingredients fit perfectly.  It’s like you planned it that way or something.

But what are nice glass bottles and layered ingredients if you don’t have a cute little label to put on the front? This was the question that had kept me up at night: where can I find the template for that label? You barely even mentioned it, except to say that you adhered it with double-stick tape.

Since it seemed pretty clear that a template wasn’t forthcoming, I did the only thing left to do. I set to work and created one myself. It took some time and a good bit of negotiating with my computer, but overall I think I came pretty close.

I printed them out onto brown craft paper, which I found on a roll with the wrapping paper at the store, and cut it down to size so it would fit through my printer. Then I used colored pencils to add a little bit of color, just like yours.

I also created a label for the back of the bottle.  You didn’t show us what yours looked like, so I put my creative cap on and added a couple of cute illustrations to the instructions and tried to make it look like it belonged with the one on the front.

And while my creative juices were flowing, I also made a gift tag with a little measuring cup, and tied it onto the bottle with some red and white baker’s twine.

So I just wanted to let you know that I figured it all out, okay?  And you don’t have to feel bad anymore about leaving me on my own to recreate your bottle.  I’m sure it has been weighing on your conscience.  But I appreciate all your creative ideas and I hope you keep them coming.  I’m not afraid anymore.

And reader, now you can go out and make some bread-in-a-bottle gifts like the one you pinned, too. You can download the template for both the front and back labels, as well as the gift tag here. [This design is for personal use only, and not to be used for commercial purposes.] All I ask in return is that you pretty please take a second and leave some comment love below.  Let everyone know who you’ll be making your bottles for, or if you found another source for the bottles, or if you’re using another recipe, or just to say hey. Deal?  Thanks a bunch.

And as always, thanks for stopping by!

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Me and My DIY

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