Sick sourdough, space, and Scandi buns

Living things take work, investment, cultivation.

It’s been over a month since I baked sourdough. I haven’t given up—not in the least—I’ve just been distracted by other things. Friday will roll around and I’ll remember that I didn’t take my starter out of the fridge yet. I will be out of flour and so will my local grocer. I’ll decide I want to play with the that was given to me for my birthday. And so on.

These aren’t excuses. They are facts.

I miss making sourdough, but I just haven’t prioritized the investment it takes. And that’s okay. But, there are also repercussions. I’ve gotten sloppy in my feeding schedule, and my starter is sick as a result.

And so, Charles (as my roommates named him—I’m not that obsessed…yet!) is living on the counter this week and my kitchen scale is going to get a workout measuring flour and water.

In my non-baking life I am on the front end of a number of trips. I love traveling, but it has the propensity to wreck havoc on my personal life. Fledgling relationships aren’t always as easy to detect as sick sourdough. The causes can be similar, such as a lack of intentionality, distractions, and competing priorities. I’m cognizant of these things, but that doesn’t mean that I always do a good job addressing them.

I spent yesterday morning eating Scandi Buns and completing a crossword at my favorite coffee shop with my best friend. At one point I looked up (maybe because I was stuck on a clue), and said to her, “This is such a good life.” And it is. These little investments, creating the space to breathe and foster community are life-giving. They aren’t significant on the surface, but they are essential. I’m trying to translate my awareness of the living nature of relationships into action.

Speaking of Scandi buns…

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These are quickly becoming one of my favorite last-minute baked goods. You might know them better as Swedish Cardamom Buns or Kanelbullar. If you’ve been to Sweden you certainly recognize them as a mainstay of fika. Regardless of what you call them, they are lovely, slightly sweet buns perfect for accompanying coffee.

I call mine Scandi buns because a) it’s fun to say and b) there’s no cardamom in the ones I make. I know. Scandi-lous.

The recipe I use is based off of this recipe from Girl Versus Dough. I’m not even going to begin to describe the process for cutting and forming these buns because she outlines the steps so well (and does so in a much fancier fashion).

I’ve deviated from the original recipe in a few ways. As mentioned, I don’t use cardamom. Also, I don’t keep date sugar on hand, and while I’m sure it is delicious, I used regular sugar. I did, however, add dried dates, which caramelize really nicely in the baking process. The other significant change is a decrease in the amount of milk and some half & half in its place.

Ingredients

For the dough
1 ½ sticks butter
3/4 cup milk
¼ cup half & half
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

Filling
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted

For the topping
1 egg, beaten
Chopped dried dates

Process

 

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it’s most melted add the milk and half & half. Once the mixture is between 110 and 120 degress remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl and stir in yeast. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, spices, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. The dough will be soft and slightly warm.
  3. Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface around 10 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth, and stretchy.
  4. Pour a drop of oil in the bottom of a clean metal bowl. Add the dough ball and flip it once to oil it. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise 1 hour in a warm place. I always find it difficult to gauge if dough has doubled, but it should look significantly larger and poufy.
  5. While the dough is rising combine the sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Remove dough from bowl and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle with the long side facing you. Spread the melted butter on the lower half of the rectangle with a brush. Make sure to spread the butter to the edges. Sprinkle the butter with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  7. Now the fun part! Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half. Using a pizza cutter slice the dough into 12 even strips. Cut each strip in half, but only up to one inch from the fold. Twist each “leg” of the strip away from each other, tie them in a knot, and tuck the ends. Place formed buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Cover the buns with a towel and let them rise for 20-40 minutes. They won’t double in size, but they will get slightly bigger.
  9. Towards the end of the rise, preheat your over to 400 degrees. Whisk the egg for the topping.
  10. Prior to baking, brush the buns with the whisked egg. Sprinkle each with the dried dates.
  11. Bake buns for 25-30 minutes. Buns should be dark golden brown and thoroughly baked. Your kitchen will smell divine. Promise.
  12. Let cool slightly and share with your bestie!

 

 

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Current crush: pretzels

Can we talk about pretzels for a bit?

Far too relegated to (far too crunchy) snacks from a bag for those tired of chips or used to sop up copious amounts of beer, I have to admit I have a little bit of a crush on pretzels.

If you happen to live in the DMV area and are reading this, stop what you are doing. Go to the Pretzel Bakery in Southeast and buy every item on the menu. So good, right?

For me, soft pretzels that are fresh, doughy, with just the right amount of salt are a thing of beauty. They are an all-day snack and lend themselves well to toppings of all sorts. So, while perusing baking blogs on a recent weekend night, as one does, I decided I needed some pretzels in my life. Stat. A few hours later, I was curled up on the couch with my roommate indulging in these little bites of goodness.

I’ve pretzeled things in the past, most notably these Parker House Rolls for Thanksgiving, but this was my first foray into the real deal.

The recipe I followed can be found here. I kneaded the dough by hand, because, while I love my KitchenAid, there’s something about the physical process of kneading that I find to be very therapeutic. Mine were between 52-56 grams, which I thought was the perfect size. The best part? Pretzel egg sandwiches for breakfast.

So, here is my challenge to you, dear reader. Find something you love. Make space. Bake.

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Hello. It’s me.

Well, nearly a fully year after my last post I am back. And better than ever.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration.

I’m just back. Let’s not get too out of control here.

A lot has changed in the past year. And, as life goes, some things have stayed the same. I’m still cooking (but in a bigger kitchen). Trying new things (involving flour, mainly). Dancing in between recipe steps (more Bieber than Bon Iver). Still single (although that status has fluctuated a bit).

Things are good.

And yet, in this season of resolving to do more, be more (insert your own qualifier here), this abandoned blog has become a quiet, nagging voice in the back of my brain. So here I am. I don’t know what this iteration of Single Girl Eats will look like.

I know that I’m baking way more than I have previously, and I’m finding a lot of joy in the process of taking flour, yeast, and water from those disparate components into something warm, crusty, and sharable. As such, you can probably expect a bit of writing about bread (and cake…and cookies…and pie). This ties into my goal of becoming a better baker in 2016 and improving my sourdough acumen. [I would write “mastering the art of sourdough”, but I’ve spent enough time babying a starter to know that I am the one at mercy to the allure and temperament of the other.]

I’ve been reading more, too. About relationships. About cooking. I’m probably share some links and commentary.

Beyond that…well, your guess is as good as mine. Who knows, I might get busy, lose interest and scrap this whole project again. Stay tuned…

 

Monday Mixology: Greyhound Fizz

IMG_6535I am not ashamed to admit that when I returned from the holidays in Florida I carried a five pound bag of grapefruit on the airplane. Fresh citrus in the dead of winter is such a nice way to start the morning. And with said grapefruit supply getting dangerously low, I decided to take a gamble.

It paid off.

I had read Leela Cyd’s Grapefruit Spritz recipe over on Design*Sponge and I couldn’t get the drink out of my head. The only problem was that I didn’t have Cointreau and it was, like, -10 degrees outside. So, I sliced into a grapefruit, got juicing, and got creative. This recipe is a mashup of Leela’s Spritz and a Greyhound (which is grapefruit juice and vodka for the uninitiated).

 

Dreaming of warmer locales

Dreaming of warmer locales

 

Cheers!

2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
Juice from 1/2 meyer lemon
2 oz vodka
1 tsp honey (I like it heat it up a smidge so it mixes better)
3 oz seltzer water

Combine grapefruit juice, lemon juice, vodka, and honey in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.

Strain into a prepared cocktail glass and top with seltzer water.