Rosemary Rolls

Rosemary Rolls–some made into the shape of a heart

Mixed: 12:30 pm

Molded: 2 :00

Baked: 3:30

Gave to parents of brand-new-baby Salem Isabel!

Here’s a recipe showing how I bake using my kitchen aid as a mixer. I love to mix my doughs by hand, but every now and again I end up using the machine. Recently, when my shoulder was giving me painful fits, it was the only way I was able to make bread using just one arm.

EVERYONE in our home loves rosemary rolls–I love them most at the mixing stage, when I’m chopping the rosemary and the pungent smell fills the kitchen; it rubs all over my hands and lifts my spirits. With the smell seems to come an extra dose of hope and joy to my day, and those are two virtues that I can’t get enough of…

Rosemary grows like a wild weed here in Santa Barbara. Here’s a photo of one planted in our yard, which I’m trying to prune to fan out below my office window.

Rosemary is planted in medians along the roadways here, it crawls up stone walls, and sometimes the upright shrub can be seen reaching to the sky, pretending to be a tree… It’s from the mint family, which explains the intense aroma, and its native growing ground is in the Mediterranean. If you live in a colder climate, you can pot it and bring it indoors, like we did when we lived in Colorado. Rosmarinus means “dew of the sea” and maybe it’s my love for the ocean that causes me to bake these rolls so very often. (If you’re not my friend on facebook, where I post my weekly beach photos, friend me!)

Here is a quick recipe for one of my favorites! If you give it a whirl, I’d love to hear how the recipe worked for you.

(By the way, it’s basically my French bread recipe except for these three differences. It’s mixed with a machine, rosemary is added, and I’ve increased the amount of ingredients in order to make a bigger batch of dough for more rolls. Makes about 16.)

Time Commitment: Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, have to be in and out of the house for at least 3 1/2 hours in order to make these rolls. If you choose to retard the dough after the first rise, then it makes this recipe very flexible.

Tools you need:
  • Cookie sheets or bread peel
  • Large mixing bowl
  • an oven :)
  • Kitchen-aid or other such mechanical bread mixer thingy
  • Other tools I use, but that aren’t imperative: spray bottle, parchment paper, dough scrapers, baking stone,

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I use Trader Joe’s unbleached flour in the blue bag)
  • 1 cup bread flour (could use all TJ’s flour, but I like to add a bit of high protein bread flour to the mix)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (can use cake yeast, just need to double it)
  • 16-17 ounces of cool or lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (I like sea salt)
  • rice flour or corn meal for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
What to do:

Step One: Combine all dry ingredients in mixer bowl set with a dough hook. Mix for a quick minute, then add all of the water. Mix on second setting (not too fast and not too slow) for about 6-7 minutes.

Step Two: Add rosemary. Mix for another two or so minutes. The dough should be flinging around the inside of the mixing bowl, hopefully not sticking to the sides of the bowl. If it’s really sticking, then add more flour little by little. Be careful not to over-flour your dough; it makes the bread awfully dense. Do the dishes, or the laundry, or light a candle while the mixer does its work.

Step Three: Oil a large glass or ceramic bowl. Transfer your dough from the mixer to the oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel. Allow it to rise for at least an hour (in my kitchen it usually takes at least 90 minutes–and more typically 2 hours) until doubled in bulk. If I want it to rise more quickly, then I heat my oven to 100 degrees (this is a very low setting and many ovens don’t go this low, but you could just heat your oven for 4-5 minutes, then turn it off…) and proof the dough inside the warm oven.

Step Four: Time to prepare my pans for baking, then mold the dough. First, I take out a sheet of parchment paper and place it on a cookie sheet. I reuse my sheets of parchment paper 2-3 times. I sprinkle the paper with rice flour (you can also use corn meal or regular flour) in order to easily remove the bread when it’s baked.

Divide the dough in half with a sharp knife or dough scraper. Then divide each piece in half (that makes four). Then halve the little doughlets again (that makes eight!). Then in half again!!! 16 🙂 I love making rolls; my brothers can mold rolls using both hands at the same time. I’m not that gifted. Maybe someday.

To shape the rolls, fold the dough in thirds, then with the seam side down, begin to roll the dough like a top across your counter, spinning on the inside of your cupped palm. Make sure your counter is clean and not dusted with flour, so the dough sticks to it a bit. I tried to demonstrate this in the video. Once the rolls are shaped and placed on the parchment paper, cover them with a damp cloth.

(Step Four and a Half: This is an optional step, and is the point when you can easily put your molded loaves into the fridge for a period of retarding. I’ve retarded loaves for between two and twelve hours… Just make sure your molded dough is covered with a moist cloth; you don’t want it to dry out. If you’re putting the loaves into the fridge for just an hour or two, then it’s best to let them rise a bit before putting them next to your chilly leftovers. If you’re retarding your bread all night, then you probably don’t need to let them rise at all before you head to bed…

When you remove the dough from the fridge, if the loaves have fully doubled their bulk, then set them on the counter just a few minutes before you bake. If the dough hasn’t fully risen when you pull them from the fridge, then allow them to finish rising, then straight into the oven they go.)

Step Five: Allow the dough to again double in size. This rise takes less time than the first, usually about 40 minutes to an hour. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Step Six: Your rolls are ready to bake and the oven is HOT. Place your cookie sheet onto the baking stone in the center of the oven. Take a spray bottle and spray in your oven, (I like to spray below the bread, but be careful of the heating elements…) to create steam. I typically do this twice during the first 10 minutes of baking.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 425 degrees. Rolls take less time to bake than larger loaves–I typically bake the rolls for another 16-18 minutes (a total of 26-28 in all).

Step Seven: Remove the bread from the oven, and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.  Then, the best part. Share : )

Cakes, Strangers, and Friends

Baked TWO cakes

The people who unearthed the ruined church in Rhodes, Greece in 1500 must have been excited to piece together the life of Saint Phanourios. Imagine finding his icon and wondering, wondering, wondering why his was the only one not damaged. And then came the miracles. There must have been a lot of chatter and research and dinnertime conversation about him as his life as a soldier, then martyr, was reconstructed.

And I can imagine the first time someone baked a cake in honor of his mother. Saying prayers as they mixed, venturing out onto the cobbled roads with the cake in a basket, to find someone nearby who could use a little sustenance, then returning to the church to meditate and pray for a while longer. I’d love to visit Rhodes on August 27th. I wonder what other traditions still abound there. Here’s a link if you want to read more of his story and see a photo of the original icon.

So, in his honor, and it being a slow and easy Friday, yesterday we set to baking early. My friend and fellow author, Chrissi Hart, placed a link on her facebook page with a recipe just in time, so I mixed and measured and soon had a cake baking in the oven. But as the smells began to filter through the house, and as I explained St Phanourios’ story to my hungry daughter, we soon realized that today we’d have to bake two cakes: one to give, and one to share. (New recipes should always be tasted!)

As we drove downtown, we chatted about who to give the dense (and hopefully) delicious cake to. I’d wanted to give it to a homeless person–maybe the fellow I see often at Alice Keck Park. But Madeleine soon pointed out that that cake would be a burden to one man–it was dense, and a lot to lug around. Then, I thought of taking it to the center where my son volunteers, a place that provides preschool to homeless children. But… I remembered they don’t accept homemade goods from outsiders, but cook all the food for the children themselves…

So, since time was running out, I was excited when I spotted a family having a picnic at Kid’s World. There were six of them, and they were munching on sandwiches and soda. Perfect. I towed my kids alongside for moral support and ahemed as I walked up to the picnic table, “I’m sorry to bother you. I know you have no idea who I am, or whether you should trust me,” I started, “but today’s a special day.”

They definitely looked at me like I was a bit off.

“On this day, in honor of a saint, you bake a cake and give it away to strangers. Would you like the cake?” I said with a hesitant smile.

“Yes!” said the only little one in the group. Her eyes sparkled and the grown ups laughed.

“What saint?” asked the grandma.

“Saint Phanourios. The cake is in honor of his mother. And you don’t have to eat it–I just want to give it.”

“Well, thank you,” said a few of them.

I turned to go–to let the kids run and tumble before we headed back home, and I can’t tell you how relieved I felt to be done with that awkward giving. As always, though, I was more than glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it. From across the playground I noticed them munching on bits of the cake while my two played.

And as my children played I made two new friends! Michelle plopped right down next to me and grabbed my camera, demanding my name. We negotiated a bit and decided on a photo shoot. Nothing like a new friend. 🙂

And then Stella toddled by. She quickly started handing me nature gifts, so I talked to her about the trees while her mom stood by to catch her tumbles. Here are my two favorite treasures that she placed in my hand.

Well, and then I looked at my watch, called in the troops,

came home and baked cake number two. We took that second cake to the beach, where we shared it with friends while we watched the sunset.

What did you do for Saint Phanourios Day? I’d love to hear…

Baby Blessings

Several small loaves of Dutch Crunch given to our hosts (I’ve made this recipe once before and it is delish! Here’s the previous post, which also contains the link to the original recipe.)

Mixed: 1:55 pm

Molded: 3:30

Baked: 4:20

Summer warmth has finally arrived here in Santa Barbara, and even though school is just around the corner, barbecues and outdoor evenings with friends seem to be on everyone’s agendas… Last night was a treat. Good people, yummy food, a fountain, candles burning, and dinner on the patio. But maybe best of all were the babies! My three are getting so big…

I got to goggle at six month old Brigid, both of us laying flat on our tummies; I watched her grin and coo. And… Sebastian brought me a flower! He’s a busy little toddler, who trots from here to there, never walks. A flower! A small purple cluster of pungent lantana picked from the side yard and given with a proud and meaningful gaze straight into my eyes.

He’s the kind of giver…

(one who expects absolutely nothing in return)

worth writing about!

Behind the Walls

My brothers are so fun!

Don’t you love this imaginative loaf of sourdough?

I grew up in Santa Monica–a Southern California beach town. When I was young it was a beachy place, where kids played in the streets (our street–18th street– was LOADED with kids), where my friends rode their bikes with surfboards over their shoulders, to catch a few waves before school. We hung out at the local drugstore and ate jolly ranchers. There was even a dirt lot around the corner where we took our bikes and shovels and made race courses… But, Hollywood folk, and other money-makers, have changed the landscape of Santa Monica into a city of walls. At least the north end, where I visit, and where my parents still live.

The other morning I was out for a walk. I wondered who in the world I would share a loaf of my brothers’ bread with, since an extra loaf or two makes its way to my parent’s home almost every day. Their sourdough is worth sharing–so very delicious–and missed by many who used to eat this bread for years before the original Pioneer French Bakery was closed.

But who to give to? So many of my own school friends have moved, and the close neighbors we once knew, and loved, have also moved on. My mom muses how amazing it is to live in a place with so many people who rarely notice one another… This city has become a place of walls,

where the only people you see moving up and down the old neighborhood streets are gardeners, maids and subcontractors…

But just when I began to despair about who to give this gorgeous loaf of bread to, I found an email on my computer from an old school friend. “Come meet us–we’re at the beach!”

Ah, the beach. The Mighty Equalizer! There are no walls at the beach. There is sand, and water, and little kids playing in the waves, and big kids with their boogie boards, and old friends still wearing bikinis! Love it!

So, I went to the beach and sat in the sand, and chatted for a wee bit with women that I haven’t really seen since they were girls. The loaf of bread was greeted by happy eyes. I wish I’d had more time, but what fun. What fun!

It makes me wonder, though, seeing and thinking about all these walls… What sorts of walls have I built in my own life to keep people out? I like being out of sight, and out of view. Maybe the walls in this changed city aren’t so very significant when it comes to giving bread. Maybe I just need to work a bit harder to knock down my own inhibitions–and simply head to the beach!

(Thank you, Susan and Linda, for the invite!)

Giving through Love

Sourdough to the Jayaramans

Rosemary rolls to Sydney and friend

Giving bread is one thing. And making it is satisfying. But giving both love and bread? Now, that’s worth doing… I’m working on it.

I believe there’s much truth in this simple statement:

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
Robert Louis Stevenson

There are people all around me who give lovingly, unselfishly. The Shannons happily offer us their pool, so John Ronan can learn to swim. My parents drive two hours, just to wish one of us a happy birthday. Joanne leaves pomegranates on the front porch, because she knows I can never have too many!

Who can be unloved with friends like these? Do you have friends who show their love to you by giving? I bet you do.

And let’s turn that love around, TODAY even, or this weekend!!! and give some in return…

Baguette Bargain

Bought a baguette

There are days when:

I’d rather be at the beach with my kids than bake

I’m so busy doing laundry I forget to mix the dough

A long lost friend calls just when I’m opening the pantry

My husband used the last of the flour to make pizza dough

I think about actually baking, but write a story on a baker instead…

On those days, a $3.29 baguette is a bargain,

and I just have to figure out how to give

in another way…

Gift of a Goddaughter

One 3 lb loaf of sourdough

Mixed: 6:30 pm

Molded: 9:30 am next day

Baked: 11:20 am

Gave half to Kh. Jan and Fr. Nicholas

Our goddaughter, Julia, was just whisked away by her parents, back to Colorado yesterday. She was here for almost three weeks-and we played in the sun, and in the fog, and in the sand. We visited the harbor, and the wharf, and toured State Street. She made a blue and green ceramic vase for her sister, and read Royal Monastic, and went to church with us, and helped with the dishes, and even went to Camp Saint Nicholas for a week where she learned (among other things…) the lima bean song. There were a few tears as the big Suburban drove off.

We haven’t seen Julia in four years, and she wasn’t even three when we moved from Colorado to California. Being a faraway godparent isn’t ideal… but prayers are the most essential ingredient in godparenthood, and what a blessing to see that she has blossomed into a lovely, loving young woman.

We miss you already, Julia!

And so… in honor of Julia, I made bread and shared it with my daughter’s godmama. On the same day that Julia left, Kh. Jan spent the day with my Madeleine, speeding her around town and loving her so thoroughly…

To all godparents: keep on praying! These beloved children,

whether near or far,

are worth every minute we can spare

praying

on their behalf.