Recording my latest baking adventure

It’s fall, so I’m baking All the Things even when I maybe could be doing other, more conventionally creative activities. This recipe started years ago as a basic sweet roll recipe, but I keep adjusting it and tinkering, and it keeps getting better.

So I’m sharing.

Ingredient List (all measurements approximate)

  • Yeast starter:
    3+ tsp active dry yeast (when I’m working with old yeast, I get v generous & use 4+)
  • aprox ½ c. 110 degree water
  • a heaping spoonful of flour

Wet component:

  • ⅓ c. butter
  • ½- to ⅔ c. milk
  • ¼- to ⅓ c. honey

Dry:

  • 3 1/2+ c. flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Filling

  • 1 c. dried cranberries soaked in hot water until plump
  • 1 c diced up fresh apples

(or whatever fruit or other filling you want in the bread. I do a cinnamon goop version without fruit, diced apples w/cinnamon & ginger, and another favorite is butter-top rolls w/diced-up dried apricots inside.)

Steps:

1. Stir together yeast, the spoonful of flour & warm water in a big bowl (this is the one you’ll use for rising the bread) until yeast & flour lumps are dissolved. Set aside. It should start bubbling up and get frothy/spongy-looking

(I know, I know, yeast doesn’t need proofing these days, but doing this gives the yeast a growth boost before putting it in a too-sweet environment. Also, there have been times it didn’t start bubbling because the yeast had..expired. ANYway.)

2. Put butter, milk & honey in a container you can microwave, zap until butter melts. Stir it all up & set aside to cool.

3.     Prep your fruits/filling & set aside to kill time.

4.     Stir together the 3 1/2 c. flour & salt in a bowl

5.     Add the flour/salt mixture & the cooling milk/honey/butter to the bowl of bubbly yeast. Stir just until well mixed. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper or whatever.

6.     Let. It. Sit.  An hour, a couple of hours, however long the dough needs to double up.

* It rises best in warm rooms, so in winter, I use this as an excuse to bump up the thermostat. Or I start it while I’m roasting something in the oven. 

** It’s often a super-sticky dough at this point, wet and annoying. Bear with it, the results are worth the hassle. Wet your hands when handling it. I know, that’s counter-intuitive, but it works.

7.     Knead it until it gets stretchy and stops quite being so ANNOYINGLY STICKY (about 10 min in my stand mixer gets it to about the right state)

8.     Form into a ball & let it sit AGAIN until it doubles in size. Because it gets more flavo the longer you let it rise. …Or skip straight to step if you have better things to do.

9.     Punch it down, squish out all the bubbles and shape into a rectangle about 1/2–1”  thick. About twice as long as it is wide.

10.  Spoon all the fruit on top and spread to cover evenly.

11.  Roll up from the short end, fold the ends under & pinch the dough to seal — or knead and fold again several times to evenly distribute fruit through the dough. However you want to have you  filling. There’s no one right way.

12.  Set the resulting round loaf into an oiled 8×8 baker…

*or shape in some other way, I sometimes make 4 small loaves out of a batch, or a pan pf pull-apart rolls or a small loaf and freeze half…whatever suits my mood. Have fun with it!

13.  Turn on oven to 375 degrees.

14. Let your shaped dough sit about a half-hour to settle & proof into shape

15.  Bake for 45-55 minutes–or less or more depending on what kind of loaf shape you went with.

This is how the latest batch came out. It gets stale fast but then makes EVEN BETTER toast than when it’s fresh.

 

Until later, all!

Inside my head

  • It’s pistachio season! Sure, they’re available all the year ’round, but for reasons related to obsolete seasonal supply chains, I will forever associate them with fall & winter holidays. Ditto smokehouse almonds (Mmm, yummy.) There’s no explaining why I like those two tree nuts but LOATHE walnuts, pecans and most other seed-derived things, but there it is. I am not a logical being.
  • Peanuts don’t count as nuts, by the way. 1, they’re legumes. Fancy peas. 2, I eat them mostly as fuel-food/meal replacements or in the childhood-comfort-memory  form of peanut butter toast.  I don’t see them as treats.
  • The latest in searches:
    • seashell geometry
    • rag content paper manufacturing
    • verses this land is your land
    • Vietnam hands bridge
  • I love the undo feature in Gmail.  So much love. No more stomach-dropping moment of horror accompanying thoughts of “DID I REMEMBER THE THING?” or “DID THAT GO TO THE RIGHT PERSON?” an instant after clicking “send.” Just click undo, check & double-check one last time, and resend. No mess, no fuss, immediate relief. (If you never have thoughts like those in all-caps above, I envy you. Phone cameras and patient pet sitters have also made my life infinitely less stressful. Stove knobs and door locks are among my many travel nemeses. )
  • Due to vision issues, it’s MUCH easier for me to read on-screen, especially a small screen with good contrast and no glare. (thank you Kindle Paperwhite, for FINALLY coming through with that technology.)  Due to me being able to read much faster than I can earn $$ for books, I am a devoted library patron. As a writer I am a huge supporter of library access because many book lovers are not made of money.

    SO. Two things are torquing me off right now: 1) Tor Book’s misguided decision to freeze library purchases of ebooks within the first 3 months of release, and 2) my library’s increasing reluctance to purchase science fiction or fantasy in any/all formats…not to mention treating science fiction as a genre but not including fantasy in it. (that’s been a WTAF issue for me for two decades now.)

  • Let me tell you my saga of attempting–at my health care provider’s recommendation–to get a flu shot from sources offering “free flu shots*” (the asterisk means”free if covered by your health insurance.”) Nah. It’s too long and annoying a saga. I’ll roll with, “administering health care via a splintered system of competing profit centers is a major societal FAIL.” Future generations will think us as crazy for supporting it as we consider the Romans who used lead pots for boiling down grape juice. HARUMMPH.
  •  Random cat pic:img_8218
  • I evidently grump about the exhausting task of dealing with humanity every two weeks, give or take. It’s a remarkably consistent cycle–I have a couple of years of data. (thanks, creepy FB) This bears further study. Why that time frame? What’s the unknown variable? Enquiring minds are always curious about these things.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Inside my head

  • I always forget how acidic apples are, because they taste so sweet. Then I try to unlock my phone right after processing a bunch of apples (where “a bunch” translates as a couple of pecks) The phone’s biometric sensor just laughs at me and says, “NOPE. Not today. Those fingertips have no recognizable fingerprints.”
  • The latest in random searches:
    •  complementary colors guide
    • tectonic geology united states
    • 19th century men’s hairstyles american
    • cumin related plant poisonous
  • Nothing drains my emotional energy like the many emails and other semi-official communications I’ve sent lately. I can interact with humanity. Or I can be quiet-minded and creative. Attempting both in a short time frame like a single day is as hard as pushing straight from top to bottom gear on an old 10-speed bike. It takes focus, timing, and a lot of effort, and there’s always a big risk of complete derailment.
  • Can’t throw in the towel on the whole writing gig now, I just ordered new business cards. (this tidbit is filed under “Staving off the grumpies brought on by two full months of zero sales or reads online.”)
    Yes, ZERO. *sigh* But I can’t give up because I have business cards & stickers, plus stories to tell, new characters to create and existing ones to cherish–all the stuff I think is terrifically exciting and awesome. Even if no one else does.
  • Spouseman insisted I buy a big cherry pie when the little one I usually get was out of stock at the pie place. Cherry pie makes an excellent breakfast food, with and without bacon. Just in case anyone was wondering. Plus now I have an extra pie plate.
  •   Random cat pic:IMG_4832
  • I saw a hawk yesterday. She looked raggedy and frazzled and annoyed as hell —  because she was being chased by sparrows. Yes, sparrows. A whole flock of angry little brown birds chased a hawk into hiding under a squirrel nest.  I was torn. I mean, I love raptors, but I had to root for the mob of brave, wee, cheeping fluffballs taking on a predator bigger than all of them combined.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.