A Babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and man.
– Martin Fraquhar Tupper
Being called Honey or Babe incenses me. Unless it is my husband (although as we are not a nickname kind of family, his calling me Honey or Babe or the horrid French Cherie! would, if anything, make me laugh). Or a girlfriend. Sunshine I kind of like if it is said in a spirit of generosity. Being whistled at from a stranger comes close to falling into this same category of taking liberties, and well, if it is meant as a compliment I do believe that I would accept it gracefully. If done as one would whistle at a bad dog or monkeys at the zoo then, well, no thank you. I despise when my sons call me Dude instead of Mom, I’ve had male doctors actually pat me on the head and say “Don’t worry your little head with this, ma Kiki!” When my brother calls me Sis, I tend to shake at the knees, wondering what ultimate underlying intention is behind the outward affection. But what I love about nicknames, as normally averse as I am to them, as degrading and belittling as they can be if said by the wrong person or under the wrong circumstances, when inappropriate or said with a certain machismo, oozing insincerity, is the sense of inclusion they connote if said in just the right spirit by just the right person. I love the familiarity with which e-mails from a certain friend begin Good Morning, Hunny Bunny!; the intimacy inherent in the Bonjour, darling! from a male friend, much like an endearing bear hug; the sense of group and affection when referred to as Saucy by a special gang of gal pals. Jamela from two singular – and Jewish – girlfriends warms my heart the same way it always did whenever Dear Old Dad called me Bubbela.
So when I was recently called Babe by a group of friends and fellow bloggers, well knock me down with a feather I was absolutely thrilled! The Bread Baking Babes is, as the name implies, a group of a dozen passionate bakers dedicated to all things yeast. Each month a recipe is selected by the Host Kitchen of the Month (or shall we say Hostess?) and we bake along. The 16th of the month finds the recipe with the results on our blogs and then anyone is free to bake the same and earn the honor of being a Bread Baking Buddy, badge and all. I’ve been a Buddy a few times in the past – from the Pesto Parmesan Pine Nut Russian Rose Loaf to the Apple Kuchen, from the 5-Grain Bread with Walnuts to the Asparagus Bread and have loved baking with like-minded women, a virtual Koffee Klatch, sharing recipes, cups of coffee and gossip alongside the sharing of a great new recipe and baking tips.
So I am proud and honored to have been asked to join the group. And now you can call me Babe.
I don’t find offensive that I’m being labelled a Babe by blokes.
I’m absolutely flattered.
– Kirsty Gallacher
My fellow Babes:
Elle at Feeding My Enthusiasms (our Kitchen of the Month for January)
Ilva at Lucullian Delights
Karen at Bake My Day
Katie at Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire
Pat at Feeding My Enthusiams
Elizabeth at Blog From OUR Kitchen
Natashya at Living in the Kitchen With Puppies
Tanna at My Kitchen in Half Cups
Lien at Notitie Van Lien
Astrid at Paulchens Foodblog
Gretchen at Provecho Peru
This month Elle selected these fantastic Jam FanTan Rolls. It is a very long process what with all the waiting, but each step is a cinch and a pleasure, fast and easy. Worth the doing if you have all day and other chores to fill up the in-between time. I got the yeast starter going at about 8 a.m. or so, made coffee, had breakfast, walked Marty and began my day. At about 10:30 a.m. I warmed the milk, butter and maple syrup gently and measured out the flours. The house was soon permeated with the buttery warm scent of maple and nutmeg and I began feeling as if I was in a log cabin among the pines, gingham apron tied snuggly around my waist. I blended and kneaded, gently, gently, soft and tender for no more than three minutes then placed the dough in an oiled bowl and pushed it to the back of the counter for just about two hours. By 12:30, after a quiet lunch, the dough had risen and puffed and was so simple, pliant and supple, to roll to the desired squares. Slathered thickly with sweet melted butter, dusted generously with cinnamon sugar or brushed with oodles of your favorite jam, sliced, stacked and nestled into muffin cups then elegantly (or messily) fanned out, the rolls are once again left to puff and rise, growing all out of proportion as if puffed up on compliments, rising to except the applause and then bowing ever so gracefully. Well, a tad bit more pompous than gracious, but so very well done! By 3 o’clock these babies, already threatening to tumble out of the muffin tins, attempting to slither out and about the kitchen, were slid into the hot oven. And were ready to serve for our traditional Quatre-Heure – the 4 o’clock snack.
Light, airy and delicate, the layers of each elephantine roll pull apart revealing a tender – a little bit fluffy, a little bit chewy, just right - texture infused with the flavors of whatever one chooses to brush onto the dough. One can add a glaze atop each roll much like a cinnamon bun but really wouldn’t it be overkill? Husband and I each grab a Fantan or two, a cup of steaming milky coffee and settle down for the perfect snack; the simplicity of the not-too-sweet buns are just what we need to comfort and relax as we watch the pewter skies threaten snow, as we see the misty whiteness of the air through our windows.
I would like to share these Cinnamon Sugar & Jam Fantan Rolls with Susan of Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting!
I also would like to share the great news that Life’s a Feast is now catalogued on the wonderful Eat Your Books website. Eat Your Books is like a large library devoted to food where thousands of cookbooks, cooking magazines and now select food blogs have been indexed by recipe. You will now be able to find a recipe in seconds, create your own bookshelf and join a forum where you can discuss, search and research.
SWEET CINNAMON-SUGAR or JAM FANTAN ROLLS
You will need a standard 12-cup muffin tin, buttered.
3-4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (I measure 135 g per cup)
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 package (8 g) of active dry yeast yeast mixed with ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water + ½ cup (67/68 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup non fat evaporated milk (see note*)
¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter
¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 - 4 Tbs (45 – 60 g) unsalted butter, just melted
2/3 cup marmalade (about), warmed (see note**)
* I used ½ cup (125 ml) lowfat milk + ½ cup (125 ml) 0% fat fromage frais or fromage blanc; others have used half milk/half plain yogurt
** I used 3 rounded tablespoons of sour cherry jam for 6 of the Fantans and about 3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar (1 teaspoon ground cinnamon for every 2 tablespoons granulated sugar) for the remaining 6 Fantans.
Prepare the yeast starter by blending the active dry yeast with the ¼ cup of warm water and ½ cup flour. Allow to activate for anywhere from 2 hours to 24 hours (I let mine sit for 2 hours; other Baking Babes have had successes with various times)
Sift 1 cup (135 g) of the all-purpose flour, the 1 cup (135 g) of whole wheat bread flour, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Stir until well blended. Set aside.
Place evaporated milk (or milk + fromage frais/yogurt), butter and maple syrup into a saucepan and heat until butter is nearly melted. Remove from heat. Stir a few minutes until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is cooled to tepid. 110° F / 45° C.
Add the frothy yeast mixture to the tepid milk mixture, then add the milk mixture to the flour mixture in a large mixing bowl; beat or whisk well to blend. Add the egg and vanilla; stir until blended. Add 1 ½ cups (200 g) all-purpose flour, stir until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft, rather sticky dough; the rest of the flour use for keeping the work surface floured while kneading.
Turn the dough out onto the lightly floured surface. Knead 3 minutes or until dough is smooth and silky. (Add the additional flour while kneading, but only enough to keep it from sticking.) Place the dough in a cleaned oiled bowl, turn dough to lightly coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Butter the 12 cups of a regular/standard muffin tin.
Dust your work surface with flour. Punch down the dough then halve it. Wrap one half in the plastic wrap and set aside. Roll the other half into a 12×12-inch (30.5×30.5 cm) square. You may have to roll slightly larger, and then trim the ends to even out the square. Brush dough with half the melted butter. Spread the surface of the dough with about 1/2 the warmed marmalade. Cut into 6 equal strips then stack the strips on top of each other. Cut through the layers into 6 equal pieces - you will now have 2-inch squares of dough stacked 6 high. Carefully place each set of squares into a buttered muffin cup, standing up so the layers are visible. Gently fan them open. Each will have six dough pieces with marmalade or other filling in between. Repeat with the remaining dough and the rest of the marmalade for the other six cups of the muffin tin. Make sure the 6 layers of dough are not sticking together.
Cover the tins with a piece of plastic wrap and then a clean tea/kitchen towel and let the rolls rise in a draft free spot at warm room temperature until the dough doubles, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
With Cinnamon Sugar
With Sour Cherry Jam
Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Place the rack in the middle of the oven.
Remove the towel and the plastic wrap and bake the rolls in the preheated oven until they are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Watch the Fantans carefully for the last 10 minutes – the high sugar content in the jam can easily and quickly burn.
Remove from the oven to a cooking rack and cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove the Fantans from the muffin tin and transfer to the cooling rack and allow to cool before serving. If desired, drizzle a glaze of 1 teaspoon milk whisked together with enough confectioners' sugar (icing sugar) to make a drizzle that is not too runny. Let dry before serving the rolls.
With Cinnamon Sugar
With Sour Cherry Jam