Sunday, December 07, 2008

Yeast of Eden

On a cold winter's day, it's tough to beat certain simple culinary delights: a cup of tea, a bowl of homemade soup, or a slice of fresh, steaming, thickly buttered homemade bread.

I didn't get the chance to make soup this weekend, but I gladly jumped on the Renaissance Man's suggestion that we bake bread. I even accepted his excellent alternative of making our favorite sticky buns and insisted that we could make both.

What a way to spend a chilly winter weekend! -- letting the dough rise and bake while we curled up with cups of tea, blankets, and books.

We started with an oatmeal bread recipe (above left) that included local wheat and spelt flours, local corn meal, and local oatmeal. (The Renaissance Man was unimpressed by the paltry amount of oatmeal called for in a recipe alleging to be called "oatmeal bread," so I obliged him by tipping in more.)

Then we pulled together a sweet roll dough using more local wheat and spelt flours, local egg, and local honey. I added a touch of freshly grated orange peel since My Wonderful Parents had given me some of their holiday citrus order, and then I juiced the orange for us to share when the rolls were done.

The sticky bun dough rose more quickly, so we finished that first, spreading the dough with melted butter and sprinkling a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, and chopped pecans on top. Having made only a half recipe (we've really got to find a much larger bowl for the Renaissance Man so we don't have to hold back), we ended up with only a baker's dozen of rolls.

But oh! they were so good! The fresh orange flavor highlighted the cinnamon as well, making the rolls taste both lighter and more lush all at once. We restrained ourselves and ate only one roll apiece at a time, but by the end of the day we had cleaned out roughly 2/3 of the pan.

Meanwhile, we had also shaped the bread dough into a plain loaf and let it bake, coating it with melted butter when it came out of the oven. We enjoyed slices of it with our leftover roasted vegetables for dinner -- a nice way to round out the day.

And during that whole time, I finished skimming one of the Renaissance Man's library books, finished reading one of mine (so I could leave it with him), and started yet another book, all with sticky bun breaks (accompanied by tea or mulled cider) in between.

What a heavenly way to end the weekend!

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