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Pie Spiked Maple Cakes

15 Nov

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The Privilege of Helping

My name is Emily and I am a chronic helper.  Anyone who has been the recipient of my gestures can attest – I am well intentioned, but I am an eager, enthusiastic helper who though genuine, can run the risk of over-helping.  Back in grade school, it was a minor holiday for me when the teacher would introduce a new student.  My mind would start racing with all the things I could help with and I’d make a beeline for them as soon as they were released from the teacher’s protective side.  I hadn’t known them 30 seconds before I had dreams of showing them around the playground and making friendship bracelets at sleepovers.  My adult self finds that same excitement every time I see a meet-and-greet put on my calendar at work for a new employee.  I mean, you never know when you’ll find your next friend!

When you are a helper by nature, it’s important to stay grounded in what helping really is; a privilege.  Continue reading

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Apple Pie Pop Tarts

9 Oct

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The Kind of Eyes

My son stopped me the other day and asked me why my eyes didn’t look happy.  It was a moment where I was caught in the middle of kid homework, work email, neighbor kids in the backyard fighting over the football, and no ideas of what to make for dinner. My son was standing at my side smiling up at me, and I didn’t notice.  I faked the attention and he caught me.  I was so disappointed in myself that I had become so wrapped up in the stress of the moment, I had lost the ability to genuinely return his smile. I stopped, put on my happy eyes, knelt down and hugged him.  Ever since that day, I’ve been thinking about eyes.  Weird, I know.  Like my son, I also notice eyes and I can still see the eyes of people who have had some significance in my life.  I see them so vividly and this small incident with my son made me more aware of how eyes are so indicative of our true selves. Continue reading

Eva’s German Christmas Cookies

22 Dec

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I’ve never been much of a collector of anything.  In fact, I’m quite the opposite.  I am at my happiest when I am ridding my household of unnecessary items and slipping unused travel mugs into the trash behind my husband’s back.  My friend collects snowmen, my brother-in-law collects coins, my grandfather collected stamps and my father-in-law collects Marilyn Monroe wine (hey, whatever moves you).  But a glance though my personal belongings reveals no rhyme or reason to anything I own.  I don’t hang on to anything long enough to officially collect it.

Today, I was searching for a Christmas cookie recipe left behind by our German exchange student, Eva.  As I tore through my cookbooks and files, I realized that I have quite the collection of personal recipes from friends and family.  There were Argentinean cookies from a friend who I worked with more than 10 years ago, a Chai tea recipe from a college roommate, a cranberry chutney recipe from a dear friend who I haven’t seen in years and many more.  It’s not surprising that I have come into so many recipes.  I eagerly quiz people on their favorite dishes, family traditions and have no shame asking for recipes that intrigue me.  But each recipe I bring home is more than just the anticipation of new food. I also bring home a part of that person who will always be in my thoughts when I make that dish.

It’s amazing how my collection of recipes connects me to people long after we have crossed paths and allows me to remember conversations and occasions that I might otherwise have forgotten.  That’s why I love these Christmas cookies. These are from Eva’s family and are her favorite cookies that her Grandmother makes at Christmastime.  This is the most cozy, rustic, beautiful recipe because… there is no recipe!  Eva’s Grandmother makes these cookies from scratch and does not have the recipe written down.  So for Eva to make them for us last Christmas, she had to translate over the phone from her Grandmother and then try to recreate them on her own.  And for me to share these with you, I had to do my best to follow the recipe from that same note that Eva translated and left at our house.

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These cookies are hearty and spicy and make you think of gingerbread houses and small German villages.  I’m obsessed with them and have added them to the mandatory rotation of family Christmas cookies.  Like all recipes, I followed Eva’s notes and then made some of my own adjustments like adding some salt and vanilla and brushing with a glaze. I also used a scale and followed the grams but you can do a conversion.  I’m actually not sure if I did it the way Eva would ( I think she does something with sugar and honey instead of a vanilla glaze), but they tasted great, so that’s all that matters! Continue reading

Pop Tarts are pie

9 Sep

I’m on lock-down.  A one year lock-down from initiating any change that adversely affects our family financially.  This lock-down, imposed by my husband, feels a bit like being grounded from hanging out with my friends.  I feel restrained and am trying my best to infuse some interest and energy into my life within the boundaries that have been set for me.  Here are the things I’m not allowed to do this year: Adopt a child, go to graduate school, get an in-ground trampoline, and get another exchange student.  These are just a few things that I have tested the waters with, only to be reminded of my one year gag order.

So I’ve taken to reading and researching and reading some more.  I’m well schooled now in the ethics of international adoption, I’ve decided I should get an MBA but only through a program that does not require me to retake the GRE (No worries, I found one!), I found a You Tube video of how to build your own retaining wall for an in-ground trampoline to save costs, and I’ve continued skyping with our former exchange student to remind myself how lucky we were to have been given a beautiful German host-daughter that we’ll know forever.  But I’m bored again.

Now I am tapping into the depths of my mind where my hopes and dreams live. I’m toying with my lifelong yearning to change the world and trying to figure out what that means going forward.  I think I’m on the right track having worked in the non-profit sector my whole career.  I have the good fortune to work in philanthropy and to build relationships with people who, like me, want to change the world.  I can even say with great certainty, that the place I’m working IS changing the world and if philanthropists invest in our organization, their generosity will be a catalyst for not only change and innovation, but will save lives.

But I want to understand more about charity and more about the world.  What I’ve noticed in nearly 15 years of working in non-profits is that while charity is well-intentioned and very necessary, there are many times when private dollars are just placating a problem and not really working to fix it and create SUSTAINABLE positive change.  Notice the word sustainable.  Like, when the grant dollars go away and your program ends and the at-risk teens don’t get their after school activity, the change you are trying to make is not sustainable and everyone goes back to square one.  Of course, I am over-simplifying my point but that’s part of what has me thinking about other ways to solve major social problems.

Enter my chosen book for vacation: The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the organization Acumen Fund.  The Blue Sweater has been one of the books that has changed my world view.  Jacqueline’s passion for finding new and innovative ways to tackle poverty spoke directly to my feelings about traditional charity – there IS a third business model between for-profit and non-profit.  Forbes Magazine calls her model “philanthropic venture capital.” And that’s literally what it is – taking charitable dollars and investing them in social entrepreneurs in select areas of the world who have ideas that can create sustainable solutions to social problems, therefore addressing the larger issue of poverty.  They are riskier investments with lower returns (hence her term, “patient capital”), but with patience, the return is larger than any venture capitalist could ever imagine – the social impact that comes from giving even just one person the tools to raise themselves up from poverty…forever.  I think Acumen Fund is on to something and I want to learn more about it.

And you know what the best part is about my new obsession with social entrepreneurship and social venture capital as a tool to save the world?  It’s free.

Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Pudding Cups

6 Jan

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The lens through which I come up with ideas is admittedly a tad off the grid from what your average person might consider normal. I’m rarely surprised that when I throw an idea out there, I’m often met with looks of skepticism or, in most cases, advice not to do it.  But, in most cases, I still do it and the result always creates a story or memory for me to bookmark into my life.

This week was a perfect example.  My friend went through a devastating break up this past month ending with a move out of the house she shared with her boyfriend of two-years and starting over in a new apartment.  One of the few things that has made her smile and laugh over these painful weeks has been a local Cleveland comedian, Mike Polk, Jr.  His claim to local fame are some funny You Tube videos that have garnered millions of hits.  His Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video and now infamous Factory of Sadness rant about the Cleveland Browns also landed him an opportunity to publish a novelty book entitled, Damn Right I’m From Cleveland.

Cleveland book

My friend gave us all this book for Christmas and it is hands-down a required read for anyone who lives in or understands Cleveland, Ohio.

As I sat pondering what I could get as a housewarming present for the big move, the perfect thought crossed my mind.  Mike Polk, Jr.!  How awesome would it be if Mike Polk, Jr. would show up at her new apartment as her housewarming gift? I promptly sent him a message explaining the situation and asking him if he would consider my crazy idea. And you know what?  He said yes!

As the day came closer, my friends started to question my judgement.  “It’s a little weird” one would say.  “It seems a bit stalkerish,” said another. “I would never do that,” said yet another.  By the day of the planned visit, I was so worried that this idea was too outlandish, I emailed Mike Polk and offered him an out.  He declined the out and reinforced that he was happy to do it, so I followed my gut and stayed the course.  The surprise went off without a hitch.  Mike Polk arrived exactly as planned and the look on my friend’s face was priceless as she watched in confusion and excitement as he walked through her door.    He was gracious enough to stay for a drink and within minutes, her empty apartment was overflowing with the sounds of friends and laughter. And more importantly, we all watched as the empty, sad look on her face transformed into smiles and excitement.

So what was the moral of this long story?  Everyone has varying degrees of “normal” and I need to trust my judgement and not suffocate my excitement or creativity just because it’s outside of someone else’s comfort zone.  But an even bigger lesson for me here is to not be the one to squash the excitement of others.  I saw myself begin to do this with my 6 year old son.  Since I was just coming off of my own crazy idea stunt, I was a little more tuned in to this dynamic.  I have a tendency to tell him why an idea might not be good when he suggests something a little outside of the box. So, instead of jumping immediately to the reasons why his ideas might not be good, I’m making a conscious effort to just roll with them.  Take these recent examples:

1.  Leaving food on the back deck for Bigfoot

What I wanted to say:  No, Bigfoot hibernates in the winter and I don’t want to go outside in the snow.  What I said:  Sure, let’s see what happens.

2.  Bringing flowers to school tomorrow for a girl’s birthday

What I wanted to say:  I don’t think that’s appropriate (as visions of the Say Anything boombox scene cross my mind).  What I said:  That’s very thoughtful of you, go for it.

3.  Painting a sled for the man down the street that yells at his dog

What I wanted to say:  I don’t even know his name, and he kind of scares me.  What I said:  What I nice idea, I’m sure he’ll love it.

I see glimpses of a familiar zest for life in my children.  A hint of crazy and the constant awareness that today could bring more excitement than yesterday. We seem to share an understanding that life won’t happen if you don’t seize the opportunity to make it happen.  So we go forward into the new week.  My friends and I have a new story to tell and a memory to share.  Tomorrow, a little girl will remember the time her classmate brought her flowers for her birthday.  And the trail of corn on the back deck has solidified my son’s hypothesis that Bigfoot does, in fact, like corn and live in the woods.

Continue reading

Devil’s Food White-Out Cake

18 May

I’m envious of people who have hard skills that they can offer to others.   Whether it’s to make money, to barter or just to be nice, they have a skill that others need and they can take it anywhere.

I have benefited immensely from people like that over the years.  Cousin Abby does hair (and saves me a fortune); Uncle John waterproofs basements, pours concrete and muds flawless drywall (and saves me a fortune); Father-in-Law Frank can paint a room with his eyes closed (and saves me time and a fortune); our good friend Matt is an electrician (and we owe him our first born grandchild for the time he has put into the houses we have owned); and Brother-in-law Aaron is a mechanic (and saves me a fortune and my sanity).  How we got so lucky to have so many people in our lives who selflessly offer up their time and talent is beyond me.

I’m frequently left wondering what my husband and I can give in return.  We just don’t have obvious hard skills that are in high demand.  My husband is a middle school math teacher and I work in fundraising, and before that was a sex educator (yep).  So between the two of us, we can teach your kid math, the birds and the bees and raise you money.  I need my hair cut every 6 weeks, but how often does one need to give their kid “the talk?”  My skills just don’t come in handy that often.  As my hair keeps growing, our rooms need repainting and our house keeps falling apart, I continue to carry a certain degree of guilt for not having an equally sought-after skill to offer in return.

My point was driven home a year or so ago when our Leadership Team at my former job took a strengths assessment.  We were doing some group therapy and read Strength Based Leadership by Tom Rath.  As part of the experience, we took a survey to identify our primary strength.  As we went around the table, my coworkers took turns discussing their strengths such as Strategic, Analytical, Developer, and Activator.  Strong words that had obvious associations with hard skills that you need in the workplace.  Then it was my turn to announce my primary strength…Woo.  Woo?  What the heck did that mean?  Exactly what you might think.  I can charm people, bring people in and develop interest and excitement.  While that’s a lovely quality, it’s not a hard transferable skill!  How many business professionals are out there touting their above average Woo skills?  They’re not.  They are DEVELOPING STRATEGIC plans, ANALYZING revenue cycles, ACTIVATING projects and seeing results.  Not batting their eyes and being charming. I envision myself on a street corner with a sandwich board waving people in to get their taxes done.  Now that takes a certain degree of woo factor.

My little foray into pie-making has started to help me fill this void in my life.  All of a sudden, people are asking me to make them pie and I am gladly offering my services.  I’ve been waiting so long to be able to do something for my friends and family.  Finally, I can help with something that not many other people have the time, interest or energy to do.  Pie!  Look, I can still give a mean birth control presentation, but until anyone needs that, I’ll be in the kitchen.

Continue reading

Tuesdays with Dorie: Irish Soda Bread

20 Mar

Let’s just cut to the chase here.  I made Irish soda bread and it was just as good (dare I say better?) than my Mother-in-Law’s.  There, I said it!  For years I have swooned over her Irish soda bread and resolved that I could never make anything to compare.  But this girl was destined for a win and the luck of the Irish was with me.

I took my own advice and read the recipe before removing even just one measuring cup from the drawer.  Boy do I love these bread recipes – four ingredients with optional raisins.  I was eager to conquer this challenge and take my soda bread to the family St. Patrick’s Day gathering.

The recipe in Baking With Julia is a traditional soda bread.  Nothing fancy, no eggs, no sifting – just flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk.  I blended the dry ingredients together with a fork as directed.  Then, reading carefully along, I added the buttermilk and stirred until the dough came together and then folded in a cup of raisins.  Easy enough.

Ok, so I might have added a dash of cinnamon. I'm Hungarian, not Irish so the authenticity was already out the door.

The next step was to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for just about a minute.  The recipe says that the dough will be “soft and malleable…” but I did not expect a sticky, gooey mess.  I even looked malleable up in the dictionary and it means capable of being shaped or formed. Um, no.  It felt like I had enough dough between my fingers to make another soda bread!

That is NOT malleable

Attempting to tame the dough as best I could, I plopped it on the prepared baking sheet and tried to cut a crisscross as directed.   There was no making any kind of crisscross in this dough. It just popped right back into it’s sticky form.

I took the bread out of the oven about 6 minutes before it was set to be done.  It looked golden brown and I wanted to err on the side of caution.  What emerged was a beautiful round of Irish soda bread despite my sticky hands and failed crisscross.  It tasted great and had a perfectly balanced texture – not too soft and not too dense.  And best of all, it tasted just as good as my Irish Mother-in-Law’s.

Be sure to check out our hosts this week for the recipe at My Culinary Mission and Chocolate Moosey!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Rugelach

6 Mar

Before I go any further, let me just put this out into the world – I am totally sick from eating too much rugelach dough. Onward…

These rugelach prove that sometimes keeping a little mystery about oneself is a good thing.  Women hear it all the time; men like some mystery to their partner.  In fact, I just saw something like this on the internet.  It said Keep Some Mystery in Your Marriage!  Seriously?  The only mystery in my marriage is where the remainder of the Girl Scout Cookies went (I’ll never tell).

I’ve never been good at keeping mystery about me.  Picture that ticker bar that runs along the bottom of the CNN report with the news in real time.  Now picture that ticker bar running through your head and then right out of your mouth in a verbal play-by-play.  That’s me – what enters my head comes right out of my mouth.  Luckily, I do have a filter and I know what material is for the 6pm news vs. the 11pm news.

I just started a new job last month and I promised myself that I would hold back and let my coworkers get to know me little by little.  I promised that I would not bare my soul and overwhelm my new work family with all my quirks and random thoughts.  But oh no, it wasn’t even the third day and somehow I had managed to relay my love of karaoke, my pie obsession, my accidental pregnancy during my move to Oregon, my luke warm love of my dog and the fact that my husband just got a vasectomy…all to an audience of new coworkers who were willing to accept me anyways. And that’s the beauty of no mystery – you put yourself out there to a new world and in a matter of days it feels like home again.

But I digress, back to this Rugelach.  There are just some things in life that are better kept shrouded in mystery.  Like that fact that these sweet little pastries are made with THREE sticks of BUTTER and ONE and a HALF packages of CREAM CHEESE.  Holy cream products, Batman.  I liked my life better when I could pop one (or two) of these in my mouth without flashbacks of a pile of yellow and white sliding around in my electric mixer.

The dough itself is a cinch and incredibly basic.  I whipped up cream cheese, butter and salt, added some sugar and then slowly added flour until the dough came together.

I divided the dough into two pieces, shaped them into a rectangle and refrigerated for two hours.  My only problem was inadvertently eating the dough.  It’s like I have a tick.  I just can’t help but pluck a bite here and a bite there – even if I know darn well I’m just eating straight butter, cream cheese and flour.  Needless to say, after doing it twice, I was totally grossed out.  Someday I will learn to keep my dough eating habits at bay.

Once the dough was chilled, I rolled them into a 14 inch long rectangle, cut each in half and spread the four pieces with apricot or lekvar (prune) filling. Then each piece was coated with a sugar/nut/cinnamon mixture and sprinkled with dried fruit.

But once again, I was going too fast and took a minor misstep.  Between my trips back and forth to the kitchen and the toddler dance party in the living room, I misread the directions and rolled my rectangles into a 14 x 5* inch piece rather than 14 x 10.  That extra 5 inches would have come in handy when rolling these like a jelly roll.  I could only make about two turns – and I knew they were supposed to be coiled around more than just twice.  Size DOES matter.

Overstuffed and under-rolled...

I was already completing this challenge by the skin of my teeth.  Then I read further and realized that Julia wants the rolled dough to sit in the fridge for 4 hours.  Ugh!  Once again, I have relearned the lesson that you must read the entire recipe before you start.  And especially before Tuesday.  So I took a shortcut and only refrigerated them for an hour.

I sliced the rolls into 1 1/2 inch pieces as directed, tossed them in a nut/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture and baked them for 30 minutes on 375.

Let’s just say these could stand a re-do.  I put too much filling on the dough, so the slices were bursting with cinnamon and sugar.  I salvaged what I could and was pleased that they at least tasted good.

My takeaways?  Read the recipe.  Google an image to see what they’re supposed to look like.  Plan ahead.  Don’t bake between dinner and kid bedtime.  And keep a little mystery in your life.  You better believe that when I take the salvaged and moderately pretty ones to work tomorrow, I’ll be sure not to mention the minor kitchen disaster that they really were.  🙂  Be sure to visit our hosts at My Baking Heart for a picture of what they should really look like and the recipe!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

21 Feb

Although I have spent the past year up to my ears in pie, I have not been inspired to make a tart.  Tarts just seem so high maintenance – so pristine with their tight little crumb and perfectly filled shells.  It’s like they are the fancy older sister of pie.  The one from the Upper East Side, with a big job and a crisp, pressed suit who comes home to see the crunchy little sister with the non-profit job who lives in t-shirts and jeans.  To me, that’s the difference between a tart and a pie.

My time to conquer the tart has come with the latest Tuesdays With Dorie challenge:  Chocolate Truffle Tartlets.  You can find the recipe at the site of one this week’s hosts:  Spike.does.stuff. You can also visit Tuesdays With Dorie to see how others fared.

I have to be honest – this challenge came very close to squashing my dreams of perfecting the art of French pastry.  I came out of the gate strong, making a chocolate dough for the tart shell.  Flour – check.  Really good cocoa – check.  Sugar – check.  5 Tablespoons of butter – FAIL.  It was supposed to be 8.

See, the recipe for the chocolate dough was on a different page than the tart recipe.  Midway through the dough, my page flipped back to the main tart recipe and I read 5T of butter from the chocolate filling recipe on accident.  I was totally oblivious to this, even as I dumped a dry pile of crumbs onto my work surface.  Honestly, did I really think this mess was going to form into dough?  Yes, I did.

I knew something wasn’t right when the recipe instructed me to do the French fraisage technique to bring the dough together.  Little by little, you take your crumbs and with the heel of your hand, smear it across the work surface to stretch the butter.  This is supposed to create a delicate, flaky dough.  But, when you have not used enough butter, this technique is nearly impossible.  Rather than create a delicate dough, you just make your hand sore and sprain your finger from all the poking and patting (seriously).

I was determined to not let this dough get the best of me.  I smooshed, I smeared, I was the definition of overworking the dough.  I was still clueless to the fact that I was missing 3 Tablespoons of butter.  I refrigerated the dough and returned to prepare the tart pans.  What I pulled out of the refrigerator was not dough – it was a hard, dry hunk of chocolate something.  I broke it into as equal pieces as possible, but I was certain that I was not doing Julia Child proud.

I was too far into this to turn back.  Using all of my strength, I tamped out circles with a rolling pin and lined the pans with dough.  By the end, I was feeling like there was hope left for these to be edible.

I baked the shells and turned my attention to the filling.  This recipe is not for the person who just kind of likes chocolate.  This is a prove your devotion to chocolate, beyond chocoholic recipe.  Not only is there a chocolate crust, but there are three types of chocolate – bittersweet, milk and white chocolate.  Not to mention 8 egg yolks.

Gooey mess of melted chocolate and butter

Perfect light yellow ribbon of whipped egg yolks

I combined the melted chocolate with the whipped egg yolks, chopped chocolate and chopped biscotti and spooned the mixture into the cooled tart shells.

After the tarts were baked and cooled, I removed them from their pans.  The result was better than I expected.  They stayed in tact and made for a very pretty presentation.  The taste?  Well, the crust was pretty good considering the butter issue.  But to be honest, these were way too chocolatey for me.  I liked the rich taste and the chunks of the biscotti, but two bites was more than enough.  I just know there’s a chocolate fanatic out there that would love these!

Tuesdays With Dorie: White Loaves

7 Feb

I’ve taken back Tuesday.

Tuesday is such a bummer of a day.  It does not have the cache that Monday has.  Manic Monday.  Oh, looks like he has a case of the Mondays.  I’ll start on Monday.  Hop on Facebook on Sunday night and see how many posts mention Monday.

Wednesday has the unfortunate status of hump day, so that right there will allow it to live in infamy forever.  Thursday is the warm-up for the weekend and Friday is the golden child.  TGIF, baby.  Saturday and Sunday are awesome because for many of us, we don’t have to work, and they are filled with the promise of getting everything done you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to accomplish all week.

What does poor Tuesday have to offer?  Tuesdays With Dorie!

In 2008, a woman who received Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (ahem, my FAVORITE cookbook.  Ever.) for Christmas, embarked on a resolution to bake one recipe a week and invited other bloggers to join her.  Their project was called Tuesdays With Dorie because they would post their recipes on Tuesdays.  The clan was a closed group, so I have pined on the sidelines to play along ever since I found out about them.

Yes, the baking book is next to the Eat Clean Diet. A girl can dream.

Fast forward to last month on a car ride between work meetings.  I was listening to NPR and to my amazement, Dorie Greenspan was the guest on Talk of the Nation.  As I was desperately trying to call in to tell her how much I want to be her adore her cookbooks, she mentioned that the Tuesdays With Dorie group had completed the book (four years!) and was opening the group again in preparation for their new book, Baking With Julia by none other than Dorie Greenspan.  I was overcome with excitement and could not believe my good fortune to catch this interview.  I raced back to work and promptly did what any good employee would do; jumped on the internet and sent an email asking to join immediately!

So, I’m in!  Two Tuesdays a month I will be posting my attempt at the assigned recipe from Baking With Julia with the hopes of completing the entire book.  You should plan to be my friend in about two years because by then, I should be a darn good baker!  But no worries, the pie obsession continues – just not on Tuesday.

Recipe #1, White Loaves

For the recipe, click here to go to the blog hosting the recipe this week.

As much as I love to bake, I have not dabbled in bread.  That’s my husband’s territory.  In fact, I’m pretty sure these white loaves are my first official attempt at bread.

Of course, I’m reverting back to my college days with the recipe due on Tuesday and I’m up late baking on Monday night.  Some habits die hard.  What a relief to find how simple bread is – six ingredients!  Flour, salt, yeast, sugar, water and butter.  Why am I buying bread at the store?  While making this bread, I was channeling my friend Heather who has embarked on a February Bread Challenge – her version of Pie it Forward – and is reflecting on her experiences through her blog, Abundance Measures. She makes more bread than I make pie, so I figured I could uphold the February bread challenge with my two white loaves.  I’ll eat one and give one away!

It was full steam ahead and things were going great until I was ready for the bread hook.  To my dismay, the bread hook for my stand mixer was too long for the bowl – I had the wrong one!  I think my mother-in-law has mine.  The hook was too long to even lock the mixer into place.  But nothing was going to stand in the way of my first Tuesdays With Dorie post.  I started that unsecured mixer and bread hooked my little heat out.  Truth be told, about two minutes into the 10 minutes it needed to mix, I had to assume a football stance and hold the top of the mixer steady so it would not fling dough out at me. Nothing like eight minutes of taming a wild Kitchenaid mixer.  But I prevailed and the dough was ready for the first rise.

Before Rise

After the first rise

45 minutes later, I cut the dough in half and proceeded to shape the 12 x 9 inch rectangles as instructed.  The first one was a breeze, but I did whip out my measuring tape to be sure I was on target.

Size DOES matter

The second one wanted nothing to do with forming into a rectangle.  I kid you not, that ball of dough kept bouncing back into a heart!

I patted, I stretched, I nearly laid myself across it.  Finally, it came into a shape that was close enough.  I folded the dough as instructed, pinched the seam closed and placed them into their pans to rise for another 45 minutes.

After they had double in size, it was off to the oven to bake until they were golden brown.  The recipe says to stick a thermometer through the bottom to be sure that the internal temperature is 200 – a good tip for avoiding over or underdone bread.  I only had a meat thermometer but I figured if it could make my turkey moist, it could certainly safeguard my bread from over baking.

And then the moment of truth.  They looked beautiful as they baked in the oven and I only hoped that they tasted as good after the shenanigans I pulled trying to stretch one into a rectangle. I followed the tip in the book and took them out of their pans and returned them to the oven for the last five minutes for even browning.  Perfection!  This bread was so good that I went upstairs at 11pm, woke my husband up and made him eat some.  Breakfast on Tuesday will be something to look forward to!