CARDAMOM SWIRL BREAD

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*Adapted from a recipe in Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann

My favorite thing from my trip to Sweden last year was the incredible tradition of Fika.  Fika is like a coffee break but is focused on slowing down rather than speeding up.  It’s about taking a moment to enjoy the company of a friend, a cup of coffee, and (most importantly) a sweet treat.  My favorite pastry was the kardemummabullar (in English, cardamom bun). Unlike a traditional cinnamon roll, which is rolled and sliced and looks like a snail’s shell, the cardamom buns are cut in strips and wrapped into something resembling a ball of yarn.  This formation disperses the cardamom filling generously throughout the bun.

My aim in creating this cardamom bread was to make something like the cardamom bun, but in a loaf, so it could be easily served in slices.  It also seemed easier than forming all those yarn balls.

This recipe can be made as a cinnamon bread instead of cardamom: just sub out the cardamom for cinnamon in the dough, filling, and topping, swap the granulated sugar for light brown sugar in the filling, and omit the orange zest.

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Ingredients

Dough 
2 1/4 tsp. Active dry yeast (should be one packet, but measure it just in case)
1 c. Milk, warmed (about 110 degrees)
1 Egg
425 g. All-purpose flour (3 1/2 cups)
50 g. Sugar (1/4 cup)
1 tsp. Cardamom
1/4 tsp. Salt
75 g. Softened butter, cut into pieces

Filling 
100 g. Butter, softened (7 tbl.)
75 g. Sugar (1/3 c.)
2 tsp. Cardamom
1 tbl. Orange zest

Topping
2 tbl sugar
1 tsp. Cardamom

Method

Add the warmed milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add the yeast and whisk just to break up the yeast a little.  Let the mixture stand for about five minutes until the yeast starts to activate (it will look a little foamy).  Add the egg and whisk to incorporate.  Switch the whisk attachment for the dough hook.  Add the flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt and mix on medium until the dough starts to form. Add the butter a few pieces at a time and turn the mixer up to high.  Let the mixer knead the dough for about 8 minutes.  The dough will be smooth and all pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Scrape the dough off the hook, cover the bowl, and let it sit at room temperature for two hours to rise.

Make the filling by mixing butter, sugar, cardamom, and zest in a bowl until the mixture is the consistency of cake frosting.  It should be soft and easily spreadable.  Leave it at room temperature.

Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 9 x 16.  Spread the filling on the dough in an even layer.  Fold it in fourths — think of folding a letter, but with one more fold. It should be about the size of the loaf pan.   The dough is really soft and stretchy, so work quickly to avoid stretching it out too much.  Cut the folded dough into thirds length-wise.  Braid the strips, tuck the ends under, and plop it into a pan.

 

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Sprinkle the dough with with the cardamom-sugar mix.  Bake at 350° F for 45-55 minutes.  Test with an instant-read thermometer; the internal temperature should be around 200° F.  Let it cool before turning it out of the pan.

 

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Helpful Tools: 

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Bench Scraper, Loaf Pan, Instant Read Thermometer, Scale 

FIELD TRIP: Bread in Pittsburgh

 

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We’ve been making a point to spend our Saturdays trying out local bakeries.  I feel so lucky to live close to so many great places.  Rob says, “you can can tell the quality of a neighborhood by the quantity of its local bakeries.” Here are the favorites so far: 

  1. Five-Points Artisan Bakeshop (Point Breeze) –  What I love about Five-Points is how friendly-neighborhood it feels.  Most people walk up and and are greeted by name.  The multigrain sourdough has a wonderfully moist crumb.  The bakery’s focus on quality shows in the product.
  2. La Gourmandine (Lawrenceville & Hazelwood) – Run by a French couple, La Gourmandie is très authentique.  They sell the best baguette in the city by far, with a crust that is crunchy but not break-your-teeth crunchy. The pain au chocolat (actually all the pastries) are absolutely perfect.
  3. Allegro Hearth (Squirrel Hill) – Allegro offers inspired flavored breads (blueberry corn! Walnut raisin!) and tons of vegan options.  They also sell pies, quick breads, and desserts.  I was delighted by their selection of cheese.  We picked up the Levain and a bag of challah rolls that were perfectly soft and buttery. 

THE MARCH EDIT

Right now, everything I’m buying is to make life easier and add pops of color.  As always, I’m trying to find new ways to stay organized and keep things simple.  I want to pick up this bronzerfrom Milk because I don’t need a brush to apply it.  I’m hoping this AirPod case will make them easier to find in my backpack.

As a devoted Ikea patron, I can’t believe it took me so long to get a Poäng chair.  I didn’t think it would be as comfortable as it is, but I’m basically falling asleep in it right now.  The cantilevered chair has been in production for over 40 years, and now I see why.  I also love this set of drawersI am using to organize my art supplies.

Terracotta has been catching my eye lately, like this Baggu tote, which can fold up and be easily packed.  This Margaret Howell scarf is also a good touch of color.  I want a pair of these blue light filtering glasses.  I realize I spend a lot of time looking at screens and should probably try and do something to keep my eyes safer.

 

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AirPods Case, Scarf, Baggu Tote, Nail Polish, Bronzer, The Nordic Baking Book,  Blue Light Glasses, Poäng Chair, Drawer Unit

Citrus Salad 

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It is such a gift that during the greyest, coldest, dullest days of the year the best citrus fruit is available.  I’ve been eating oranges almost every day.  One of my favorite ways to eat oranges is in a citrus salad.  This is a re-creation of a dish I had a The Four Horsemen, a wine bar in Brooklyn.  If it seems weird, just try it.  I swear it’s a really delightful snack.  

1 Grapefruit 

1 Navel Orange

1 Blood Orange 

Olive Oil 

Salt

Pepper 

Pecorino Romano 

Use a serrated knife to cut the pith of the oranges and grapefruit – don’t just peel them.  The pith is very bitter so it is worth the effort to cut it off.  Slice the fruit to make rounds.  Arrange the slices on a plate.  I like to mix up the different colors, but I think it would also be cool to do a gradient.  Drizzle the oranges with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with flakey sea salt, and a few cracks of fresh pepper.  Shave some pecorino Romano cheese over the top.  

February Edit

On a recent trip to Ikea I picked up a handful of houseplants.  So far my favorite is the sansevieria trifasciata, or Snake Plant.  Someone told me that these plants also filter the air, so I might pick up a few more.  I do not have a naturally green thumb, so I’m really hoping to keep the plants alive.  

I also really want one of these French market totes for decoration / storage in my apartment.  I love anything that incorporates natural materials.  I just don’t know where I’d put it yet.  

Great design always inspires me.  I am curious to check out Cereal Magazine’s guide to Paris because they always have beautiful recommendations.  Cereal also has city guides for New York City and London. 

Another well-designed thing on my list?  This smart speaker from Tivoli Audio.  I think the walnut finish on the speaker is really nice.  

After years of being a beauty maximalist, I’ve really focused on pairing down my make up and skin care routine as much as possible.  Rosehip oil has become my go to product for my skin.  I love that it is so light weight, but keeps my skin hydrated all day.  The only color cosmetic I’ve been using is a lip and cheek tint.  I recently picked up this one from Tata Harper, but I also love the Stila ones.  

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Living with Less Plastic

 

 

Living with Less Plastic: 

Single-use plastics are a huge problem causing irreversible damage to our environment. I’ve always made the effort to recycle as much as I can, but I know that just using less period is the best way to cut down on plastic. 

Here are some ways I’ve been trying to curb my own plastic use: 

BYOB always.

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Baggu makes great reusable shopping bags

I keep reusable shopping bags in my purse, in my car, in Rob’s car— I always have them on hand. And if I still forget a bag I just hand carry my items. It can be a tough habit to get into, but now I am really used to it. Reusable bags are also sturdier than their plastic counterpart. It’s much easier to carrying groceries when the bag has a shoulder strap.   

 

 

 

 

No more single-use coffee cups. 

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12 oz Hydroflask

I try to make my coffee at home and bring it in a 12-oz Hydroflask. Honestly I think 12 oz is enough. If I go to a coffee shop and don’t have a reusable cup, I just order for here and savor the drink and the moment I get to myself, instead of just taking the coffee and rushing to the next task in my day.  

 

 

 

 

 

Reusable water bottle 

This is a no-brainer, right? I have a few reusable water bottles and I always keep them filled up and in the fridge. I always take water with me so I’m never tempted to buy single use plastic bottles. If i do need to buy a water on the go I’ll buy a Pellegrino in glass, and then reuse the glass bottle for regular water. 

Bring your own container spices 

I just reuse old jars and fill up at the co-op. It’s honestly way cheaper, too.  I like customizing the sizes of container I use for each spice so I can buy a large quantity of what I use frequently and just a small bit of something I might only need for one recipe. 

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Save every glass jar 

Any good glass container with a nice lid I will save and reuse. I have a whole arsenal of old Bonne Maman jars that I use for packing lunches, storing spices, etc. 

Waste free lunches 

I try to pack my lunches from home with as little to no waste. I bring my own utensils, a cloth napkin, and pack my food in reusable containers.  

Refuse 

I refuse plastic utensils and straws as often as I can. 

Buy bulk and decant around the house: 

In addition to buying in bulk and decanting my spice cabinet, I also do this for cleaning supplies and personal care products. I also try to opt for things packaged without plastic. I opt for wooden cleaning tools and toothbrushes. 

Make food from scratch  

Something I’m working on is making more food from scratch and buying less pre-made food and take out. I’m hoping to try and make my own granola bars and yogurt this year.  

Just Buy Less

It’s so hard to buy things without any plastic.  A t-shirt bought online might be wrapped in a plastic bag, a plastic tag, things in plastic boxes, plastic zip-ties that fix products to a piece of cardboard, plastic used in packaging, shipping, transport before it gets to a consumer, etc.  I ask, do I really need this?  I’ve been living without it for how long?  Can I get by with what I have? 

I’m not perfect but I do the best I can. Every little bit helps. It takes more effort to reuse things and make granola bars from scratch than it does to just buy single-use, but I know it’s worth it for me to try. I have a lot of work to do and still buy and use plastic a lot more than I want to, but I’m not ready to make my own toothpaste and cleaning products. 

Granola Bars

 

Granola Bars

I’m trying to cut back on individually packaged foods, and the two last hold outs for me are yogurt and granola bars.  While I don’t think these are perfect, I do think I’m off to a pretty good start with the granola bars.  I did some research and I think it culminated in something that is definitely a granola bar.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups quick oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon flakey sea salt
Zest of 1 medium orange
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 8 x 8” baking dish with parchment and spray with cooking spray.  I used a 6.5 X 8.5” pyrex refrigerator dish because that was the closest thing I had, just do your best.

Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  Add the honey and maple syrup and stir until mixture is all coated.  Transfer into the prepared baking dish and press firmly into the pan until it is well packed.


Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Let it rest at room temperature for at least an hour before cutting into bars.  If you don’t wait, it will all crumble apart.  If it does all crumble apart, don’t worry, now it’s just regular granola, which is pretty great.

This recipe can be easily adapted to suit different tastes / to use up what you have in the cabinet.  I already had most of the ingredients on hand which is why I went for cranberry-orange.  The nuts, dried fruit, and other flavorings are totally flexible.

If anyone has any great granola bar tips or recipes please send them my way!

January Book Club

I’m still working on some of the books from my December reading list, but here are the next two I’m hoping to read:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – The rise and fall of Stanford drop out Elizabeth Holmes and her start up, Theranos, which promised to revolutionize health with a drop of blood, but couldn’t deliver.

American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment – After his release from imprisonment in Iranian, a Mother Jones reporter takes a job as a prison guard to learn about incarceration in American from the inside.

I’m naturally more drawn to non-fiction than fiction, but I’m hoping to read more fiction this year.  If anyone has any great novels to recommend, please let me know.

January Shopping List

After a stressful holiday season, I’m focusing on pouring a glass of wine and relaxing this month with some comforting classics.  As I look out the window onto a grey, cloudy, rainy landscape, I would love to be wrapped up in this sweater from Madewell.  I ordered a pair of moccasins to pair with it.  If I could only wear one shoe for the rest of my life, it would probably be moccasins.

My dear friend, Liz, sent me a beautiful candle from her company, Arome Candle.  Look for an unboxing video on my Instagram next weekend.  I love the scent profiles and designs of the candle.

When January arrives, my skin and hair start to dry up.  I’m rehydrating this month with Kiehl’s Ultra Moisturizer Cream and Olaplex hair repair treatment.

I recently started experimenting with pour-over coffee.  I do love my Nespresso and French Press, but I have been curious to try one of these for awhile.  I ordered one made by Bee House, a Japanese ceramic company, but I’ve seen these around everywhere.  My favorite coffee is this blend from Commonplace, a Pittsburgh coffee company.

Commonplace Coffee, Ceramic Coffee Pour Over, Madewell Sweater, Moccasins, Olaplex Hair Treatment, Kiehl’s Moisturizer, Location F Wine, Arome Candle.

Balanced Breakfast Smoothie

When I’m working early it’s so hard for me to eat before work.  I’m definitely one of those people who just isn’t hungry at 6:45 in the morning.  However, I know how important it is to start the day with something.  My solution has been a basic yet balanced smoothie.

 

Ingredients

1 sliced, frozen banana
1 cup almond milk
1 tbl almond butter
1 scoop protein powder
2 cups spinach

Method 

Blend it all in a blender! Layer frozen banana pieces and almond milk beneath spinach leaves for best results.

 

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