My quarterly issue of King Arthur Flour's The Baking Sheet arrived today in the mail - and that's always a good day. I look forward to brewing a cup of tea and sitting at the kitchen table leafing through the slim volume. I always see one or two recipes that I immediately want to try: drop everything, roll up my sleeves, grab the mixing bowls, pile the ingredients on the counter and get baking. Most of the recipes are not exactly vegan-friendly - The Baking Sheet loves its dairy and meat - but they are mostly adaptable. The Winter issue has a hearty white bean and sausage stew (vegetable broth and seitan sausage could be handily substituted), an intriguing yeasted gingerbread loaf and in the "must try immediately" category: tangzhong bread. Huh? Yeast rolls stuffed with cranberries and honey (agave nectar or maple syrup ought to make good substitutes). I'm a pushover for anything combining bread and a sweet filling.
Sesame seed and poppy seed bagels.
Although I bake quite a lot throughout the year - we buy zero commercial baked goods (just try to find the words "whole grain" in my town) and both Kel and I are carb junkies, so you can see where the math gets you - but when the weather turns cold and cloudy, I love nothing more than to get into the kitchen, tie on a well-worn (stained) apron and bake. It's the days when I don't have to bake anything,that are the most relaxing and enjoyable. Considering the good smells and tastes emanating from kitchens, it's small wonder that they tend to be the congregation spots for family and friends.
Although I do return to certain tried-and-true recipes (braided walnut bread, applesauce bread, bagels, pitas) I get restless repeating myself and since there are thousands, tens of thousands of wonderful-sounding, challenging recipes out there in the world for breads, cookies, cakes, bars and other baked goods, my inclination is to keep trying new things. And if there is something a little bit different about the recipe - be it a pretty twist, knot or enticing ingredient - I'm even more intrigued.
One problem I run into during heavy bouts of bread making is that the freezer becomes filled from top to bottom. The solution is that every once in a while we have to "eat out of the freezer" for a few weeks - and then the cycle repeats itself. An enjoyable Sisyphean task. Will there ever be enough time to try all of the tantalizing bready recipes out there? No. But I'll sure have fun trying.