I’m so full. The most recent culprit was an almond croissant at the office that I’m pretty sure was meant to be shared. Sorry whoever wanted that other half. It’s now in my belly. Last night it was a soufflé that I actually did share. But I shared the bigger half. And the night before it was a buttery brioche-y onion spiked bread.
I go through phases of gluttony that often coincide with my exercising. It’s finally getting cool out so I’ve been running more often. With running comes hunger. And invariably, with my personal brand of hunger comes eating without abandon. Whatever that messenger in your head is that tells you when you’re full, well, mine is on permanent vacation. I don’t realize I’m full until I’ve cleared my plate, and sometimes Mark’s. And then I still don't realize it until I'm miserably full an hour later. I blame it on the running… I blame it all on the running.
Two nights ago I was left home alone and to my own devices as an honest to god cold front blew in. Bread-making weather, I love you. I’d been saving this particular bread for Thanksgiving. It’s a twist on my mother’s traditional holiday breads, a bread that's reminiscent to me of home and cozy weather more than any other bread. I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving. I could smell it and see it and sort of even taste it.
And why wait anyway? This is probably one of the easier breads I make. It seems to be foolproof, as I’ve made it in all sorts of adverse conditions without any adverse effects. It also doesn’t mind how you flavor it, shape it… nope, this bread loves life. It was clearly the perfect bread to make between my dinner of chocolate chip cookies and a midnight Project Runway viewing party I was planning on attending (Leanne you rule!!!!).
I threw together the bread in record time, but there was still an hour before I left to watch Leanne's all out fashion domination. I paced past the bread a few times before I gave in. And remember that runner’s hunger I mentioned? It kicked in, and it kicked in hard. I tore of hunk after hunk off that buttery onion bread. Before I knew it I had eaten a third of the loaf. Thank goodness Mark came home to whisk me off to watch the show because that bread was about to be ancient history.
Sometimes I think I run because I love it. Sometimes I think I run because I'm practicing discipline. But most of the time I know I run because I love to eat. I wish I could do as Michael Pollan does and eat less. I wish I could demurely push the plate away before the plate was cleaned, but I've lived with myself 32 years and it's pretty much a forgone conclusion that the plate will be cleaned. And I’ll probably still be hungry.
When I woke up yesterday morning I pulled the bread out again and before my run had a few slices with Meyer lemon jam. And you know what? I cleaned my plate.
Adapted from my mother's seriously famous holiday bread
4 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup milk, scalded and cooled
1 cup butter at room temp
4 eggs (slightly beaten)
2 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
6-7 cups flour (depending on humidity)
1 minced onion, sauteed in 1 Tbsp butter
Scald the milk and turn off the heat. Before it cools add 4 Tbsp butter to the milk, so the butter melts as the milk cools. Set aside. In a pan saute the onion in 1 Tbsp butter and let cool.
Put yeast, flour, lukewarm milk mixture, water, salt, honey and eggs in the bowl of your mixer. Mix for 2 minutes to combine and then switch to the dough hook and knead for about 9 minutes. Add flour as necessary, but try not to use too much. At this point add the remaining 12 Tbsp softened butter and mix to combine. You want the dough to be a silky texture and slightly tacky to the touch, but clearing the sides of the bowl. Then add the onion and knead into the dough. Cover and let rise in a sealed container for approximately 1 1/2 hours. This bread really gets big, so make sure the container is large.
Set your oven to 375 degrees. After the first rise, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Cut off two tiny pieces from the 6 to make tiny boules to sit on the top of the bread. Roll the six large pieces as you would shape a baguette. These 6 pieces will be used to make two separate braids (to make two separate loaves). Braid three pieces together and spiral the braid into a circle, tucking the ends under to hide them. Do the same with the other three pieces. Shape the two very small pieces into boules. Set the boules right in the center of the spiraled braids. Place the loaves on their own parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Like I said, they get really big. Brush the loaves with beaten egg yolk mixed with a pinch of salt.
Cover lightly with plastic. Let proof for about 45 minutes. After the final proof brush again lightly with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Take out when the loaves are golden brown.
For a list other fantastic breads check out Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast!