Tag Archive: Bread

  1. Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread

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    Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.comFig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com

    Here we are, home in the woods.

    There’s nearly a foot of snow on the ground as I write this and the sky doesn’t look like it’s fixing to quit time soon. Erin Brockovich, my favorite movie of all time is playing and I’m perched on the windowsill by the fireplace waiting for a certain Elk that I know lingers around the house to make an appearance.

    Loveliness and prettification has NEVER been my schtick, and I hate that the summary of my morning sounds like an Eddie Bauer catalog or one of those instagram accounts that are all leather goods and falling leaves –– BUT life out here does feel good. For all the confused looks we got for making this leap, there is nothing I’ve felt so sure about, next to marrying Shaun. We definitely didn’t know how life would change when we waved goodbye to the city, but we knew it would, and that it would for the better. They say “wherever you go, there you are,” which is true. We brought our same soggy hearts and issues and questions up the canyon with us, but… yeah… and HERE we are, choosing the front row to our own lives and experiences, away from that which no longer serves. I think the “there” can hold more water than we care to admit. But I’m biased. The mountains are my church. It’s impossible to not step outside, breathe deep, and get hit with this rush of perspective. For the first time in a very long time, I think I recognize the sound of my heartbeat again.

    There’s this pull-apart bread I’ve been sitting on a while, though. I made it a month ago, the last shoot in the old place. I was feeling that sort of manic-compulsive desire to bake and make a wholly sticky mess of a half-packed kitchen (pro tip: wine bottles make A+ rolling pins). I’m the kind of person who turns to baking when things feel totally psychedelic and out of control. Unlike throwing together something grainy, herby, green-ish, crunchy, tangy in a bowl and calling it a masterpiece, baking requires a high degree of rule-following that tends to turn me off on most days (in the kitchen, and in life). But I appreciate the precision. The requisite patience. The attention to detail. I crave it when everything else in the world feels topsy turvy. I promise the pay-off is big on this one, guys.

    Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com

    Fig + Anise Pull-Apart Bread 

    For the dough (slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman): 

    • 2 cups milk
    • 1/2 cup butter 
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
    • 4 cups AP flour
    • 1/2 cup (additional) AP flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    • dash of salt 

     

    Filling:

    • 2 cups dried mission figs, soaked + softened
    • 2 Tbsp ground anise seed
    • 10 Tbsp butter, melted
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 2 tsp cinnamon

     

    Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com

    Preheat oven to 350’ F.

    Start with the dough. Combine milk and butter in a small sauce pan. Heat until just beginning to steam. Turn off and remove from heat. Stir in yeast and 1/2 cup sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. In a stand mixer with a bread hook or in a large bowl with wooden spoon, stir together liquid with 4 cups of flour. Wait an hour for the dough to rise, then add 1/2 cup additional flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    Place figs in a bowl of warm water to soften for 20 minutes. Strain, dry, and place in the basin of a food processor or a immersion blender. Add anise, melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Blend until a sticky paste forms. Add more butter or a bit of milk to thin if necessary. Set aside.

    On a floured surface, roll out dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4” thick. Spread fig/anise paste evenly until it covers all of the dough. WARNING: the next phase is extremely messy. It’s unavoidable. Just have fun with it. Cut the dough into 6 to 8 strips, then stack all the strips into one stack. Cut the stack of strips into 6 slices. Place the stacks sideways into a buttered bread pan. If you’re me, you will probably feel the need to shove things in the holes… Dee recommends against this, but hey… it doesn’t always have to be pretty to taste good.

    Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes and then check to make sure the top is not browning. Test the center… are things still gooey in there? Cover with tin foil and continue to bake for 10, 15, 20 minutes.

    Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.comFig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.comFig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com

  2. Good Ju Ju

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    Ju Ju means energy; the experience of positive and negative forces all around us that charge our lives and shape each unique day on this planet. You know Ju Ju. It’s that thing when you enter a space and get that “off” feeling in your gut telling you it’s time to leave, it’s the woman who smiled at you when you were crossing the street yesterday, the long, warm embrace of your loved ones, the sensation of sand between your toes walking on the shore. It’s the powerful stuff that we pick up on everywhere when we let our intuition take the reigns.

    We can give it, receive it, create it, share it, leave it behind, pass it on; you can even give Ju Ju a good kneading like homemade yeast bread. We need good Ju Ju. We need bad Ju Ju too though. The polar forces help guide our decisions, steer our relationships, and challenge us to think about life in new, interesting ways. It’s a balancing act; I think the potential for both kinds of ju ju live in us at once and can be used to direct people when we least expect it. Some people call it vibe, at yoga you’ve probably heard it referred to as Prana… but whatever name you give it, you know that it’s some powerful stuff.

    Despite the fact that each day I generally rise to the blessings of good health, supportive relationships, and an intentional purpose; my Ju Ju reserves can still get a little low from time to time. Life gets messy, our heads get fuzzy, and the spark within us can grow dim. When I need good Ju Ju, I call my Mom. She shares her wisdom and light and helps re-ignite my own to honor and pass on to others.

    This week my Mom was flanked with a host of givers. I received more good Ju Ju than I knew how to process all at once. Surprise coverage from The Kitchn, Food52, FoodieCrush Magazine, Food In Jars, an interview feature with Kaileen Elise, and the positive affirmations from readers and friends have been a needed nudge. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your energy with me this week. If I could bottle it, seal it with wax, and send it right back to each of you ten-fold I would.

    Too often we disregard the profound impact that our simple words, actions, and intentions can have on the world and one another. Don’t. Seriously. We carry each other; everyday we take turns by sharing our Ju Ju. Give it away and watch it grow.

     Chickpea Fritters with Tomato Jam 

    Slightly adapted from Whole Food by Jude Blearau

    Tomato Jam 

    • 2 tsp olive oil
    • 1/4 cup crushed ginger
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 3 cinnamon sticks
    • 5-6 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped and most of the seeds removed
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    Heat olive oil in a saucepan over gentle heat. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the vinegar and cinnamon sticks and cook until reduced by half. Add tomatoes, sugar, cumin, and cloves. Cover with a lid, and cook for 5 minutes over gentle heat. Remove lid, increase heat, and stir for 5-8 minutes to thicken. Reduce heat again and let simmer until thick.

     

    Chickpea Fritters 
    • 1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 8 hours
    • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • pepper to taste
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 handful of parsley, chopped
    • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
    • 4 tbsp mint, chopped
    • 2 tbsp chickpea flour
    • olive oil, for frying
    Pour soaked chickpeas into a strainer, rinse and drain. Put soaked chickpeas in a food processor with minced garlic. Pulse for about a minute. Add the spices and pulse for another minute until finely ground, then place in a large mixing bowl. Add chopped onion, herbs, and flour and eggs and use your hands to combine. Form the mixture into small patties about 1/2″ thick. I started out thinking these would be chickpea burgers, but with half a loaf of bread on hand and no intention of running to the store, these became open faced sandwiches. Oops.
    Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, just enough to cover the bottom well. Place patties in the pan and cook over medium heat (with a gentle sizzle) for 5-7 minutes on each side. Jude warns “don’t rush the process, the insides take a while to cook.” Serve with grilled olive oil bread and tomato jam.
  3. Fig and Anise Seed Bread

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    “The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight… [Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”  — M.F.K. Fisher (The Art of Eating)

    For a girl whose happiness owes a great deal to the likes of yoga, games of rummy over coffee, and a good concert; I find myself starting a lot of these posts peddling the benefits of meditation by cooking and baking. There really is something uniquely therapeutic and recharging about directing our thoughts and energy to the instructions of a recipe. Washing, mincing, shucking, stirring… suddenly, we’ll have realized we’re breathing again. Ms. Fisher says it beautifully of bread-baking in particular; how the business of measuring, kneading, and letting rest can help us slow down, pay attention, and actually wait for good things to unfold.

    Waiting. What a concept. How often do we really have to wait for anything, anymore? Many have labeled ours the generation of instant gratification; and although Shaun and I would like to think ourselves excluded from the categorization, we do fall into the trenches of haste from time to time.

    You can’t rush bread. Measuring. Kneading. Resting. Rising. Second rise. Baking. There aren’t any shortcuts or many special tricks, there are just a few simple ingredients, and time.

    Successful loaves, I realized during the process, are like successful relationships. They can be attributed to attentiveness, patience, and our full presence – the trifecta of mindfulness. Don’t rush the process, don’t try to force it be something it doesn’t want to be, keep it simple, and savor the hard work. Give it some TLC and you’ll feel so proud that you didn’t take the easy way out (as in, buying it from the supermarket). Start a relationship with bread-making and you’ll start to understand more about your own, I guess.

    This bread is well worth the wait. Inspired by a variety we’ve always loved from a local vendor at the Farmers Market, it’s sweet, savory, and will disappear right before your eyes. Fresh figs are just starting to arrive at the markets, but dried ones will turn out just as swell.

    Fig and Anise Seed Bread, built from Best French Bread by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything

    • 3 1/2 cups organic bread flour
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
    • Scant 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons anise seed
    • 1 cup chopped black mission figs (I use dried)

    In the bucket of a food processor with the steel blade attachement, add the flour, salt, and yeast and process for 5-10 seconds. While the machine runs, pour the water through the feed tube and mix for 30 seconds to a minute, or until the mixture becomes a sticky ball. Add a teaspoon or two of water if it seems too dry. Scoop the sticky ball out of the container,and as Mark says “dump” into a large bowl. Add the anise seed and chopped figs, and knead together until well spread throughout the dough. Shape into a ball. Cover with a clean towel and let sit for 3 hours. Wait. Patience.

    Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and give the mound a second light knead, and back to a ball. Pinch together the seam that forms at the bottom of the ball. Place a clean kitchen towel in a colander and sprinkle well with flour. Place the dough ball, seam side up, in the towel and sprinkle with more flour. Fold over the towel, and let sit for another 3-6 hours. Wait. Patience.

    Preheat the oven to 450′ with a baking stone on the bottom shelf. When the oven comes to temperature, remove the ball from the colander and slash the top with a sharp knife. Be vigorous about it, it takes a bit to break the gluten. Transfer to the baking stone. Bake for 30(ish) minutes. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. 

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I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.