Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy bread

Having an  online cooking journal for the whole wide web to view, share, remark and debate on can be a very intimidating experience, an online show with an audience of anyone and everyone, on a given, often rendering guilttrips  so hard to shoo off when you don't speak enough. This is common occurrence  in my life these days. I realize that to have a spiel that delivers, one must generate in the audience ( translates to you, fine people) a do-it-now intent, all the while reeling them in to the day's recipespeak. But what do you do if you don't have that level of Fantastic springing from the edges of your brain? A day or several that lacks a food story, the kind that yields a head- in- clouds feeling where words and thoughts package and purpose themselves into a kitchen song and dance. 

Sometimes there are those weeks, seemingly endless, yet not. You know, the kind that drag you in with a pull, gentle, but fierce and you're left with a listless, swept through afterthought, and energy amounting to zilch. It's then that doing everything (read: dirty laundry, trash sorting and shelf dusting) conveys almost next to nothing. Especially when contemplating an update for the now 87 page webjournal one intentionally commits to, in hopes to inspire all, even those yet- to- be born grandchildren (lofty thinking drives far, doesn't it?). It is this dry spell that must run its own course. In its midst, I occupy my mind and bookshelves with hulking manuals termed cooking bibles (blasphemy!), renewals on Cooks Country subscriptions, pressing forward on endless recordings of reality FoodTV.

No, I'm not twiddling my thumbs, waiting for inspiration gusts while Bobby Flay hosts another throwdown. My everyday workplace is a busy one, where several freezer-depleting meals are made and plated. You see, the common ho-hum and our weeks-on rotation are those blurbs I prefer not to sell here, these that are often not qualifed for the pretty photo op, you know, the ones that have you openmouthed and clawing at the screen.  

The preoccupation for finding a noteworthy reveal was having effects even on my child, who went on a foodgawking spree for me. It's then she found the header that only a young mind couldn't miss. "I want happy bread",her remark, and my answer to this week long performance drought. "What?", glancing onto the screen that held the suspense. Noted, sweet child. Your wish is my command. Happy bread it shall be. It was then that I became the bestest mother in the world. 
The first thing that you fail to miss is that this Happy is outright gorgeous. No matter how your layers, cuts, turns and twists turn out, endproduct will certainly elicit a fair amount of oohs(!) and ahhs(!). It was of course a win-win for my gluten loving firstborn who revels in all things edibly white and starchy. 

The beastmachine, mybreadmaker that's always churns out lovely breadforms, is not the one I consulted for my happy bread. Instead, its the elbow grease (and preacher curls) that cannot be understated here, my two hands that helped me fashion smooth, pliable and perfectly taut dough. A form that turned pillowy on proofing and rolled out smoothly without curling back into a snail, as most yeastly things do.
And that's how the stress of a toiled-out- nothing- to- show week- came to good end. My pound and a half of happy bread was beaming and beautifully so. Add to that, the madefromscratchbreadaroma lingering still in our vents and hallway . 

In all the stages of Happy making, what with leavening, mixing, kneading, rising, cutting, tucking and swirling, you will engage in a sense of utter joy, and deep satisfaction. These salient features of fancy breadmaking further into the final ta-da, thoroughly worth a standing ovation, even if it be your own.  

Once the coils and layers are said and done, getting beyond the chewy crust forces you to pull apart at well looped rounds, wherein you notice the delicate and airy structure of perfection created, waiting for you to break into that first bite.  

I say you sing. Oh happy day!

(The recipe is from Foodiva Kitchen's . I thank her for google translating it and making adjustments from the original Bulgarian blueprint. Everything is measured in metric units, which I left as is and I did top mine with sesame seeds.)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 100 ml warm milk or a little less than half a cup
  • 500g all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and flouring
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150 ml warm milk (extra)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp vinegar or lemon juice
  • 100 g butter, melted and cooled
Glaze Ingredients:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • ½ c sesame seeds
  • Combine yeast and sugar in the milk, cover and let stand until yeast is fully dissolved and slightly foamy, about 7-10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Make a well in the middle and add beaten eggs into it, the remaining warm milk, olive oil, vinegar and yeast mixture. Mix all ingredients in the bowl using a large wooden spoon. Once it is somewhat combined, turn dough out onto a floured counter until all parts of the dough become smooth and elastic and knead. Clean out and dry the same bowl. Lightly oil or coat with cooking spray.
  • Place your dough in it and cover with clingfilm or clean towel to leave to rise and double in volume - about an hour.
Push through that soft dough belly. If your fingers leave an impression that stays,  leavened it is. 
  • With hands gently push down the inflated belly of the dough. Knead through once to smoothen and transfer onto a floured surface, divide dough into 2 equal parts and then those 2 into 4, where there will be 8 pieces of dough altogether.
  • Roll each piece of dough out into a oblong, rectangular shape (doesn't have to be perfect) with a thickness, almost ¼". Brush cooled, melted butter over pieces. Save remaining butter for later.
  • Place one piece of rectangular dough over another one and start to roll into a cylinder. Repeat with the rest of the dough; you will end up with 4 tube shaped rolls altogether.
  • Slice at both ends of the roll about 1 1/2' long each, and set aside these two pieces. Cut middle part of the dough tubes nto 4 equal, side- by -side triangles. Repeat with all the cylinders.
  • Grease or spraycoat a 9 "or larger deep, round baking pan.  In the middle of the tray, arrange the ends of the rolls around each other to form a circle, placing cut sides down. Arrange the cut triangles in concentrically, to completely surround the middle circle. Cover with clingfilm or dishcloth and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for additional half hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Whisk yolk and milk to for glaze and brush top of the bread with the glaze. (You can sprinkle with sesame seeds or other dry toppings at this point.) 
  • Bake bread for 10 minutes at 350° F, thereafter reduce heat to 325° F for remaining 30-40 minutes, until bread is done and top is slightly browned.
  • Brush bread with melted butter right after it comes out of the oven. Cover and let cool or do as we did and start deconstructing once out, being mindful not to burn hands and tongues..
Notes~ You can very well do this using a stand mixer or food processor and dough attachments/blade, If so, set speed to medium- low until dough pulls together, separating from the sides of the mixer/ f.p. bowl.
The structure quite easily breaks apart at the seams of the individual shapes. I suggest you grab two, three, maybe five before the rest disappear. 

"My body and mind may fail, but God is my strength and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26 (ISV)


  1. Oh Tisa !It is such a beautiful way to begin my day with such inspirational post.Any time the chores seem heavy I will think of the lovely way u translate it to make it happy.Happy bread looks really happy :).

    1. Thanks Meena, your kind words made my day! Joyful cooking.

  2. as usual, lovely post... and that bread definitely looks so happy... yummm!!!

  3. WHat an absolutely beautiful positive my friend complete with sunshine and a delicious bread :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. Your happy bread is sure passing on cheerful the generous sprinkle of sesame seeds

  5. Aahh truly a happy bread. That definitely brought a smile :)


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