Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Common Scents

The holidays are drawing closer, and I've been busy baking every day, turning out not only the usual daily breads but also some holiday favorites and other seasonal treats. The Renaissance Man sometimes likes to stop by just to inhale the aromas, and I can't say I blame him, especially since olfactory pleasure is the only kind I can indulge in where my baking is concerned these days.

So here are a few tantalizing hints at how fragrant my days are:

The mornings typically start at 2 AM with a stumble to the kitchen, preheating the oven to 450 F, setting the kettle on to boil, and prepping the first artisan loaves while I start the first batch of sandwich breads. The artisan loaves are absolutely heavenly -- the simplest of yeast doughs, baked at high temperatures for that bakery-fresh scent. Yum.

Next come the sandwich loaves, the ones made in the usual loaf pans -- and there are eight current varieties to choose from! Above is my honey-oat-spelt bread, one of the more popular flavors, and yes, it smells just as good as it looks.

Once the basics are covered, I'll move on to the sweeter breads or specialty loaves. My newest is an apple strudel bread (shown here from its prototype days), which features a vegan spelt dough, a luscious apple-cider filling, and a hickory syrup glaze. I also make rings of cinnamon or pecan rolls, and at this time of year I might slip in a loaf of julekage as well.

The filling for the apple strudel bread is one I particularly enjoy inhaling. Even though I don't care for standing slightly stooped over the counter to peel, core, and chop apples for it, once I mix up all the ingredients and start to simmer the lot, my whole apartment smells like commercial apple pies -- only without the additives. This fragrance alone takes care of any sweet cravings I may have, and I don't even have to eat a bite.

Once or twice a week, I get the thrill of melted butter, spiced nuts, and hot honey syrup joining together in a pan of baklava. The perfume of this dessert is reason enough to put the work in behind it!

And, of course, I usually offset these smells with a good hot cup of tea wafting its steam up my nose.

There are definitely perks to working at home!

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