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Archive for the ‘breads’ Category

Black Magic

And today, a haiku:

 

Don’t want to wake up

Showering should be my goal

Dry shampoo instead

 

Dry shampoo is my new bff. It’s mind boggling. It’s like black magic for your hair. Part of me doesn’t trust it, but that part of me is very small and very out-shadowed by the part that is hooked. And on days like today, when showering and looking publicly acceptable are not, I repeat not, priorities, this stuff is an answer to prayer. PTL.

On lazy Saturdays like this one there are only two things that can drag me out of bed before eleven o’clock (fine, twelve o’clock): a pre-planned brunch with my favorite girl in the world (check out her blog here, it’s funny and practical and I adore her so you will, too) or cinnamon. Cinnamon anything. Today it’s cinnamon bread. But really you could serve me candle wax covered in cinnamon and I’d eat it and ask for more.

This is the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon bread. I have a mild obsession with the Pioneer Woman. Anything she makes is guaranteed to be amazing. I know because I’ve made about 3/4 of her recipes over the last three years. And, like dry shampoo, she might also be associated with black magic. Things like these are too good to be true. There must be some type of witchcraft involved.

This is the bread of my dreams. Literally. I dreamt about it last night. Sweet, sweet, cinnamon dreams. I woke up happy. You could, too.

i sprinkled more cinnamon-sugar on top of my loaf. what can i say, i’m a sucker for gilded lilies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 3-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • Egg And Milk, Mixed Together, For Brushing
  • Softened Butter, For Smearing And Greasing

Melt butter with milk. Heat until very warm, but don’t boil. Allow to cool until still warm to the touch, but not hot. Sprinkle yeast over the top, stir gently, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Combine flour and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix sugar and eggs with the paddle attachment until combined. Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add half the flour and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the other half and beat until combined.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and beat/knead dough on medium speed for ten minutes. If dough is overly sticky, add 1/4 cup flour and beat again for 5 minutes.

Heat a metal or glass mixing bowl so it’s warm. Drizzle in a little canola oil, then toss the dough in the oil to coat. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and set it in a warm, hospitable place for at least 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto the work surface. Roll into a neat rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you’re going to use, and about 18 to 24 inches long. Smear with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle evenly over the butter-smeared dough. Starting at the far end, roll dough toward you, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch seam to seal.

Smear loaf pan with softened butter. Place dough, seam down, in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix a little egg with milk, and smear over the top. Bake for 40 minutes on a middle/lower rack in the oven.

Remove from the pan and allow bread to cool before slicing.

***FYI, this makes the most amazing french toast you’ll ever eat. I dare you to try it and think otherwise.

In other news, this is the first time in months that I’ve had over a thousand dollars in my bank account. Jobs really do come in handy, as it turns out. So if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a fabulous-all-be-it-small-and-reasonable-shopping-spree. Happy Saturday, y’all. Do something fun with people you love. Like make cinnamon bread together. Or just eat cinnamon bread together. Your call.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Chocolate Babka

You know, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to get all cultural. A few years back, when my best friend and I lived in this perfectly wonderful, crap-shoot of a crayon box house in a sketchy neighborhood in east Austin (that was a lot of detail for one sentence) we tried celebrating other cultures by having parties! We started with a Mexican fiesta. And we bought all of our supplies/decorations at, where else, FIESTA! There were Mexican dresses involved, and those tall candles with pictures of saints on them, and churros. (Spoiler alert: churros will absolutely be featured here at some point in the near future.) People loved it so of course we promptly picked another culture to celebrate a few weeks later. Being that we both shared a deep, burning love of The O.C. and it’s starring family it seemed only natural that we honor them by partying down Jewish style. There would be matzo balls and strudel and yamakas and bagels and shmear for EVERYONE!

adam brody and i having dinner at the imaginary restaurant in my head. cutest couple ever.

So we made a facebook event page and invited our friends, all nine of them, thinking they would be just as excited as we were. Wrong. Our friends, all nine of them, bailed. Not one of them showed up. And a few called us racist. Come again? Racist? By wanting to learn about and celebrate a new culture? It was the event name that turned them off: “Are Jew crazy? We Are!” And maybe the picture we used for the invite, a cartoon drawing of an Hasidic Jew. Okay fine, it was a little irreverent, but it was funny! And so we sat in our living room and pretended to be Linda Richman and Barbara Streisand on the set of Coffee Talk all by our lonesome as our roommates, I’m sure, sat upstairs and tried to figure out how they got roped into living with what were arguably the weirdest girls at UT. I think they did that a lot that year. I don’t blame them.

Four years later and I’m still semi-obsessed with Yiddish. Adam and I remain good friends, but my love for him has been eclipsed by my love for Zac, who also claims a Jewish heritage. It’s true. I wikipedia’d it. I should probably clarify that I’m referring to Adam Brody and Zac Efron. We’re on a first name basis. I forget that other people aren’t. But as wonderful as Yiddish words and imaginary relationships with beautiful boys are, they pale in comparison to chocolate babka. It’s like a cinnamon roll but on steroids and with streusel. Streusel is maybe one of my top three favorite things in the whole world. It should be sprinkled liberally on  top of everything, including my grave when I die. See that my wishes are carried out, will you? This yeast bread is rich with butter and eggs, layered with a mixture of chocolate, cinnamon, and (yes, more) butter, rolled and twisted and folded, and then topped with streusel. Talk about gilding the lily. It may give you a heart attack, but I promise you’ll die happy. I can sprinkle streusel over your grave, too, if you’d like.

***Note: The babka has been baking for approx. 40 minutes now and I’ve never, in all my baking experience, smelled something this wonderful coming from an oven. This is exciting. Get excited.

Ingredients

3/4 cup warm milk, between 100 – 110 degrees (just slightly warmer than body temp, for reference if you don’t own a kitchen thermometer)
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
3/4 + 1/8 cups of sugar, plus a pinch for sprinkling over yeast
2 whole large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 + 1/8 cups (which translates to 1 and 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
1 pound semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Streusel Topping

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

*Makes 2 regular sized loaf

1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 1/4 plus 1/8 cups sugar, 1 whole egg, and egg yolk. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 1 stick of butter piece by piece while mixer is running. Continue mixing until butter is completely incorporated and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. I like to set the covered bowl on the bathroom counter, turn on the shower, and let it get steamy. It’s the closest thing to a proof box there is and creates the perfect environment for yeast to grow. Anywhere near a dryer or a warm oven would work too, though.

5. Place chopped chocolate, remaining sugar (1/2 cup), and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter (or your fingers if you’re me/uncivilized), cut in remaining  3/4 stick of butter until well combined; set filling aside.

6. Generously butter a 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 2 equal pieces. Keep 1 piece covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 12-inch square; it should be about 1/8 inch thick.

7. Crumble a little less than half of the chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Brush the edges with egg wash. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons of filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and remaining filling.

8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of the loaves with egg wash. Crumble streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover pans with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Bake, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack until cool. Remove from pans and serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

Praise Jesus for Jewish breads. Is that going too far? No wonder nobody came to our party. Please don’t be a shmuck. Stop schlepping around and make some babka!! I know it’s a big undertaking, but I seriously cannot express how good it is. There are no words. My vocab can’t handle it. My brain can’t handle it. I promise, you’ll never make anything else for holiday mornings ever again. Now someone please come take it away immediately.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Hey remember when I used to actually post recipes on my recipe blog? Yeah that was fun. We should try that again sometime.

In the meantime, I feel like writing. Purging. In the non-physical sense, I mean. Although…

JK. We’ve discussed body image issues. No need to revisit. I’m sitting in my (parent’s)house, with what could quite possibly be satan in cat’s clothing, listening to James Taylor and pondering life. It’s all very Carrie Bradshaw, minus the shoes, clothes, and unfortunate nose. You like how I rhymed that? Me too. It was just for you. Once you start it’s hard to stop.

It’s now been exactly two and a half months since I started my new job at the Horeshoe Bay Marriott. Time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose. Or when you’re working sixty hours a week. Whichever. In any case, I sort of love it. I would totally love it if it weren’t for this one menapausal lunatic who’s srsly trying to wreak havoc on my sanity. Crazies love company, or so it seems. Recent observation regarding all jobs: There’s always at least one person who feels the need to make everyone else miserable. And, no offense to my gender or anything, but it’s almost always (in my experience, at least) a woman. Why is it that some women have such difficulty working with other women? Is it a catty sort of thing? Is it an insecurity sort of thing? Is it a manipulative bitch sort of thing? I don’t know and, honestly, I don’t particularly care. I just wish it weren’t so. Anywho, here’s the sitch minus most of the gory details: She was angry at a coworker, I tried to make things right, she redirected her anger at me, and is now telling folks that I stand around and rub butter on people all day. Here are my thoughts regarding this accusation:

A) That’s weird.

B) That’s gross.

C) That’s inappropriate.

D) That’s untrue.

E) That’s weird.

Fortunately for me, everyone seems to know that she’s mildly insane and they pay her and her false, creepy accusations no attention. But really, if you’re gonna spread lies about someone it seems to me that you might actually wanna make them sound a little bit more credible than that. Also, I’m really glad that those two years of theater classes at UT are finally paying off. You should see my polite smile. It’s totes convincing.

In ranch related news, I love living on one. Country life suits me and sitting under the stars and listening to crickets is now my fave past time. Living for free also suits me. Thx, mom&dad. Here’s what doesn’t suit me: I move an hour outside of Austin due to the fact that ninety five percent of my friends have done the same, only to have a few move back and then make several more in the same area. There’s no feeling in the world like regretting decisions you just made. It’s almost soul-crushing. Okay fine, I don’t really regret moving to the boonies. It’s where I want to be in the long run and the goal of having my own bakery out here becomes more tangible every day, but I admit the lonely is hard to keep at bay sometimes.

Speaking of friends that are back in Austin, I was chatting with two of them the other day about lonely. I think it’s safe to say that we all go through seasons in our lives, right? The older I get the more this makes sense to me. Right now I’m in a lonely season. I’ve always been really scared of lonely. But the more I walk through it, the less intimidating it becomes. It sort of reminds me of the sea in that it comes in waves, some bigger than others. It can rage, which completely sucks, but most of the time it’s pretty gentle. I once heard of someone who was so scared of lonely that she married a man she didn’t love in order to prevent ever feeling it. I can only imagine what that sort of thing does to a heart. To both hearts, seeing as how the man she married knew that she wasn’t in love with him. To have to live with that sort of guilt and what I can only imagine to be significant regret, I would take lonely over that any day of the week.

I’ve seen this scenario manifest itself in several people’s lives over the last few months, namely my little brother’s. He was struggling with whether or not to end things with his girlfriend and while we were talking about it late one night he kept asking the same question over and over again: “What if she’s the one?” While I was chatting with two of my besties the other night the same topic presented itself. The one. It sounds so elusive. So unrealistic. I go back and forth with myself trying to figure out where my opinion on the subject really falls. Here’s what I’ve deduced. I fervently believe that God has a plan for each and every one of our lives. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our lives revolve around finding the one we’re “supposed” to be with. When that happens we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture. Life becomes selfish and petty and that’s when loneliness begins to swell and waves begin to crash. I do believe that some people are meant to be together. I believe that we were made for relationships, both romantic and platonic. I also believe that when God is ready to introduce us to that one person, if there is one, He will. And we will know. It will be clear. No, I have no real experience in this department on which to base these beliefs. My heart just tells me that if we seek God’s counsel, honestly and humbly, He will provide it. But we can’t be looking for the answers we want. That’s the trick, I think. So often I tell God what I’m looking for rather than ask Him what I should be looking for. I phrase it like a question, but really I’m just writing a letter to Santa. “Please give me this and this and this, God,” and then for effect I throw in, “if it’s your will.”

There’s gotta be more meaning to life than just finding a husband or a wife or a good job or a new house or whatever it is we’re looking for at any given moment. It’s all so temporary. Even marraiges that last a lifetime only last one lifetime. We forget about the one to come and how this one carries over. Life becomes about us and if all life is really about is me and my problems, then I’m certain I don’t much care to finish it out. After a while, we all get sick of ourselves. Life is about what happens on the way, not where you end up or who you end up with. If God gives you a spouse, that’s wonderful. But don’t waste all your energy searching for them and certainly don’t settle for someone just because you’re scared nobody else will come along. It’s not fair to anybody and the idea that, in doing so, we could be missing out on plans that the creator of the universe had specifically and perfectly designed for us is enough to send my overanalytical brain into unhinged hysterics.

Okay. I’m about to say something that might make me sound like a total hippie, but I believe it with every fiber of my being: Life is about loving all people. Completely and recklessly. It’s what we’re called to do. If you find someone to marry along the way, sweet. That’s awesome and something to celebrate with a big wedding and a cake made by me for a large but not excessive sum of money. But, and trust me when I say I’m speaking to myself more than anyone, for the literal love of God don’t get so distracted with relationships or the prospect of one that you forget your real purpose in this life. Don’t let the fear of loneliness direct your paths. By the same token, don’t let the fear of commitment keep you from following the right path. It’s a scary balance to strike, and something that I think can only be accomplished with a significant amount of communication with God.

For fear of sounding like an even bigger hippie, I think that the more love you give, the more love you receive. Not in a creepy, let’s all get together and have an orgy way. More in a take the time to get to know people for who they really are and love them for it and regardless of it way. It’s all very cumbaya, I know, but I think there’s something to it. People are fantastic. The more I get to know people, the more I peel back the layers and discover the incredibly tattered and resilient and beautiful souls inside, the more I love them. It’s incredible how different and simultaneously similar we all really are. I love it. And I pray that regardless of how lonley we get, we can always find comfort in knowing that love exists just as strongly outside of romantic relationships as it does within them. I found new people to love this weekend and I’m pretty excited about it. In honor of what were probably three of the best days I’ve had in a very long time, I’m going to actually share a recipe with you tonight. It’s a coffee cake and I highly suggest eating it while sitting on the kitchen floor with people you love.

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1-1/2 stick Butter, Softened
  • 2 cups Scant Sugar
  • 3 cups Flour, Sifted
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1-1/4 cup Whole Milk
  • 3 whole Egg Whites, Beaten Until Stiff

FOR THE TOPPING:

  • 1-1/2 stick Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1-1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cup Pecans, Chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined, being careful not to overmix. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 or 8″ round baking pan. A cake pan with higher sides would be best.

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until set in the center.

I don’t have a pic but the struesel topping sinks into the cake and creates this beautiful marbled effect throughout the whole thing. It’s delicious and heartwarming and the best midmorning treat I can think of. Love y’all.

xoxo,

Mindy

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