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!

making the best of bad times

My professional plans for this weekend imploded in a most frustrating way, and I’m…pretty torqued about it. Sad, frustrated, disappointed, you name it.

But…instead of seething about it, I’m giving myself a consolation prize: a Total Writing Retreat. ™

I was supposed to be out of town, so everything is set for me to be gone. It should be fun to see how much I can get written while I’m pretending I’m on the road, offline, cut off from the everyday routine & exempt from household responsibilities.

I’m still REALLY unhappy. But maybe I can make somethng of it? I dunno. I hope so.

Meanwhile, if anyone feels like helping cheer me up, you could always buy Rough Passages or one of my other books, leave an Amazon or online review for something of mine you’ve read already, send me a picture of my book in your collection or TBR stack…or heck, just post funny pictures on social media?  I’ll see ’em when I’m back online next week.

But reviews & sales would make me happiest. Yes, I am shallow and mercenary

Look. It’s simple. I  want to reach All The Readers Ever.

Each sale and especially every Amazon review causes a real and dramatic boost in my visibility. Support from you, my loyal & astonishing followers, makes the party even bigger.

And sometime bigger really is better. 4B3CA471-FCF2-4E1C-95B0-23C46338E2C3

.

Come to Pittsburgh, it’ll Be FUN!

TL;DR summary: I’m going to Pittsburgh this week! Lots of amazing authors will be in Pittsburgh! You can meet them for free & get autographs!

Why Pittsburgh? So glad you asked. It’s the Nebula Awards Conference Weekend, a traveling event held annually by The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (aka SFWA)

There will be loads of professional development panels for authors and the big Nebula Awards Ceremony, but the reason I’m sharing  is that the event also has a super cool tradition called the Mass Autographing.

Open to the public. Here be all the official bits: https://nebulas.sfwa.org/autographing-event-sunday-may-20/

Basically if you’re within a distance of Pittsburgh where you can be at the Pittsburgh City Cetner Marriott Sunday May 20, 1-3, and you’re interested in excellent science fiction & fantasy books, you really should come to this event!

You can meet loads of authors–Nebula Award nominated, and Nebula Award WINNING authors–they’ll be there, and they’ll all have books available for purchase too.

Also there will be me. With my books. Not nominated books, and I’m not a SFWA member (not yet! SOMEDAY!) but I will be at the conference absorbing knowledge and maybe helping out if I can.

And so I will also have my excellent books for sale at the event Book Depot. In case anyone wants them.

What about next year? Will I go to the SFWA conference then? Maybe.  Depends on where it’s held, and even more it depends on whether I make enough sales to become a member. I’m not sure how long I can justify attending when I’m still not making enough sales to qualify as a member. Maybe forever? Maybe not. I get more self-conscious and nervous about it every year.

But that’s next year, and I’m not sure what next year will bring.  For sure it will be an adventure.

This year? PITTSBURGH, HERE I COME!