I almost skipped today’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge. Buttermilk crumb muffins just don’t sound that enticing to me – especially since I still have a half dozen pumpkin muffins stored in the freezer.
Also, a plain muffin, with a trace of cinnamon and nutmeg for flavor, made from vegetable shorting and buttermilk? Not so much. But I really want to get back on the Tuesday with Dorie bandwagon, so when I saw the first harvest of cranberries at the market last week, inspiration finally took hold.
Recipes: Brioche and Pecan Sticky Buns
Sticky buns epitomize all that’s wonderful about weekend breakfast; indulgence, leisure, hanging out with people who are happy to see you in your pajamas, and of course, an excess of butter. They go perfectly with strong coffee too. And because I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the hosts for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, I get to share the sticky bun recipe from Baking with Julia with you.
I’ve eaten and baked many a sticky bun. I’ve even written about them before. But this sticky bun recipe – made from brioche dough, is a keeper. Watch (part 1 and part 2) Nancy Silverton – the contributing baker and driving force behind the La Brea Bakery – make these sticky buns for Julia Child. See if you don’t end up wanting to run into the kitchen and bake.
I’m always excited when I come across a dish I’ve never heard of – like the Pizza Rustica I made for today’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge. This dish is a savory pie – closer to a quiche than to what most of us think of as pizza. Rustic Pizza is a traditional Easter dish in parts of Italy and well known to many Italian Americans as cold cut pie. In Naples, they call it Pizza Chiena, or full pie.
Whatever you call it, the fillings often contain ricotta and pork, and the crust is always made with sugar.
This posed a couple problems for me. First the pork – I went a whole year of Charcutepalooza only eating pork a few times and I didn’t want to make an Easter pastry K.M. wouldn’t eat. But luckily, Charcutepalooza solved that problem – I already had home-cured duck prosciutto and duck salami on hand.
I’ve made a lot of bread in the last month. I am, again, working on my sourdough bread baking skills. Every few years I seem to give it another try. Right now, I’ve got a great starter going, and the crumb isn’t bad. But I’m still challenged by many of the frustrations that William Alexander describes in 52 Loaves – not yet able to produce those wonderful, irregular holes that make good bread something great.
I’m working with three different flours, weighing the ingredients (most of the time), and struggling to master Baker’s Math.
All the delights of cream cheese were waiting for me when I hit the East coast at the age of 17: cheesecake, bagels with cream cheese and lox, and of course, rugelach –the subject of this week’s Tuesday’s With Dorie challenge (I know, I’m running a day late.) My freshman 15 was made of cream cheese.
I think of rugelach as a pastry, rather than a cookie – a rich, not-so-sweet- cream cheese pastry that almost melts in your mouth wrapped around a sweet jam filling. When I worked at Rosie’s we sold them by the pound – and I ate them by the pound too.
Challenges you define for yourself are luxuries. Training for a marathon, reading the Brothers Karamazov, writing a novel in thirty days or learning to bake a loaf of bread – it all falls under the category of luxury.
My new challenge is unquestionably an indulgence. I’ve joined the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group in their new incarnation – working their way through Dorie Greenspan’s 1996 book, Baking with Julia, the companion to Julia Child’s last PBS cooking series.
It’s going to mean a lot butter, flour, sugar, yeast and learning. And that I might finally make a decent loaf of bread.