Every year, we spend Thanksgiving in Palm Springs, California with my boyfriend's parents. The weather there is warm and there are many blue, cloudless days to enjoy. We decided to do an alternative Thanksgiving dinner this year without turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, or any of the usual fixings. Instead, we had a nice rib roast, which coasted to 120 degrees F slowly inside a 200 degree oven.
Instead of dinner rolls, I opted to make epis using Hamelman's baguettes with pate fermentee formula. The dough was divided into three 500 gram pieces, which resulted in three very fat baguettes, as they had to fit onto a half size sheet pan. While the kitchen is quite spacious, my boyfriend's parents aren't bakers, so I had to do without a bench scraper or a baking stone - in the grand scheme of things, only a minor inconvenience.
For dessert, I made some apple cinnamon rolls with Glezer's Baking Team USA Sweet Dough formula. Instead of spreading butter on the rolled out rectangle of dough, I used a thick layer of apple butter and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top. The result tastes like apple pie in cinnamon roll form. I highly recommend it. Plus, you can justify eating more than one if you tell yourself that this is a lower-fat version that cuts down on the butter content.
Here are the almost-proofed rolls. It took almost seven hours to fully rise.
After coming out of the oven, they were drizzled with some maple glaze: a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, powdered sugar, and cream.
This'll feed us for breakfast for a couple more mornings. I hope all of you had wonderful Thanksgivings. I look forward to seeing everyone's holiday baking in the coming month.
When asked where, or who, or what I would turn to when in need of comfort, I blurted out:
"I bake" All around the table there were people nodding in agreement. Comfort, food, baking. A no-brainer.
My answer caused a growing feeling of unease within myself though. As the rest of us came up with their ideas (books, photo albums from the attic, secret benches at water fronts) I counted the number of times a week I throw something into my oven, and started to get slightly worried. I must be in need of an awful lot of comfort...
Ever since, every time I bake, I ask myself; why am I baking?
Sometimes the answer has indeed something to do with comfort. A missed job that had my name written all over it will spark a very comforting autumnal frangipani.
Last week I found myself baking Dutch crust rolls after I shattered two (!) plates I really liked. At times, it is about a passion for new things and learning. Croissants, ensaimadas, macarons, complicated sourdough breads that take up to 36 hours to make, bring it on!
Most of the time the answer seems way more trivial. All the bread eaten in this house come from our own oven. I bake because there needs to be bread on the table in the morning. Simple as that, or is it...
Sharing as a disease The best part of baking, especially when baking bread, is eating it together. Sharing bread is right up there with the big boys when it comes to what is ingrained in our very genes from the start of humanity.
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the ground."
No sooner were we kicked out of paradise, or bread came into our existence... It is at the heart of what makes us human and has stayed with us till this very day!
I heard a wonderful story of a guy, here in Amsterdam, who has made it his mission to GIVE in life all that he can, without ever asking anything in return. He helps complete strangers to a new bike, finds lost photo albums and brings it back to the rightful owners, things like that.
One of the people, a radio journalist, who was touched by all this - he himself got a new bicycle after complaining on a radio show that it was stolen from him - dug around a little and found out the guy was operating... from a mental institution.
He was diagnosed mentally ill. His own words; "over here they consider sharing a disease".
The disease that is called sharing... Personally I hope it is airborne and viral, very contagious and practically incurable. This world could do with a bit of sharing.
This recipe for Swedish Kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) came to me by way of a baking friend. She got it from a new food channel, who got it from somewhere else, etc. Along the way tweaks were made in the recipe, and what you end up with are some really stunning, very tasty cinnamon rolls that are real easy to make. Maybe something for at the coffee table on Thanksgiving? For me, any old day will do to make them; they have become very popular quite fast in this household.
For the filling:
150 g almonds
150 g sugar
100 g unsalted butter
8 TS cinnamon
4 TBS water
For the dough
500 ml milk
150 g butter
12 g instant yeast
120 g sugar
13 gr. salt
1 TS cardamom
850 gr. bread flour
(pearl) sugar for decorating
Warm the milk and melt the butter into it. Add the yeast, sugar, salt, cardamom and bread flour. Make sure the milk has cooled enough before adding the yeast. 35° C is okay. Mix on low speed until the dough is nice and stretchy, around 10 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Pulse the almonds together with the sugar and the cinnamon in a processor until fine. Add the water and the butter to it and mix until well incorporated.
Rest your dough in an oiled container until almost doubled in size. The warmer it is the quicker it goes. About one hour or so. Next, roll out the dough to a big rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Make sure it doesn't stick, it makes working this dough much easier.
Put the cinnamon paste on half of the dough and fold it onto itself. Roll out again to even it out and cut the dough into strips. Form the rolls by stretching and winding the strip of dough, loosely, around your hand twice, go over the width of the roll and tuck in the end. No matter how you do it, it will always look lovely, so don't get too over zealous in trying to get them to look all the same!
Let the rolls proof until they are nice and plump, about 45 minutes. In a warm kitchen they might be ready within 30 minutes or so.
Preheat the oven to 200° C. Take out all the racks and prepare to bake on the second lowest rack.
Give the rolls an egg wash with the slightly beaten egg (use only egg yolk for a deeper, richer shine and a more dramatic contrast) and sprinkle with small sugar pearls if you have them. Normal sugar works as well, but won't look as classy. Bake for about 20-25 minutes with convection until they turn a deep golden brown. Let them cool on a rack and.... SHARE!
Thanksgiving seems like an excellent occasion to write my first post.
First let me share how grateful I am for The Fresh Loaf. It has been inspirational, educational, and invaluable in developing my enthusiasm for baking. Thank you all who continue to post and share your ideas and expertise. I really value what everyone has to share and I hope that we all never take this forum for granted.
I am a member of a spiritual community and religious order of about 100 people who keep me baking in bulk weekly and this last 4-day Thanksgiving weekend afforded me the opportunity to heartily indulge in my baking addiction. I started on Wednesday getting dough ready for 150 "Zakai Challah Whole-Wheat Dinner Rolls" (The bread of innocence; named after the latest addition to my extended family, Zakai Michael, who was born a week before Thanksgiving.) I joyfully arose at 4am to bake the rolls so that the turkeys could occupy the ovens by 6. I took a quick nap on Thursday morning before preparing 100 pounds of mashed potatoes. Boiled, riced, and seasoned for our Thanksgiving luncheon at 1 o'clock. After feasting, I went to the kitchen and set out my whole-wheat sourdough starter, knowing that people where going to want bread with the next day's turkey soup.
I've been pining for some bannetons and decided to make a few from some #10 cans, but that is another post.
By Friday evening I made a dozen loaves of whole-wheat sourdough rye to complement the soup and got my starter going for a half-dozen more loaves of straight sourdough (4 batards/3 boules in the new bannetons). Saturday night I was up to the wee hours, finishing these last loaves; ruminating on dough and bread, spirit and flesh, God and man. Baking gives me great joy, and most of the time gives others joy as well. I have so much to be grateful for, but the opportunity to bake and break bread with friends and family is high on my list of blessings. Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, ha‑motzi lehem min ha‑aretz. Amen.
We are headed 300 miles tomorrow to visit our daughters so I had to bake last weeekend. The loaves in the back are Susan's Sourdough with kalamata olives and rosemary. The darker loaves are toasted pecan with blue cheese inspired by PR. The rolls are Floyd's sweet potato. It has been a great 9months of learning to bake. Thanks for the recipes and inspiration, this is a great site for learning if you take it one bite at a time.
We always have some Italian dishes during our holidays. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Easter, there is always ravioli on our table as a first dish. We would set up an assembly line with all of us pitching in to make hundreds of them before Thanksgiving so that we could have them for Christmas also. They freeze very well, but don’t ever defrost them before cooking them, just put them into a large amount of salted boiling water directly from the freezer.