“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” C.S. Lewis
I thought I would start out the first month not with a cookbook per se but with a love story. Because this wonderful book was lent to me by a nurse colleague at just the precisely perfect time in my life and it inspired me to create this blog, it felt fitting to include it. My Berlin Kitchen is a story about a young woman torn between two continents mixed in with self discovery, romance and recipes. A Year at Portsmouth is about a bereaved middle aged woman who now cooks and writes as a way to process grief and to heal. No comparison at all. I just need to share my story about her, about our sisterhood and because I must somehow, in this overwhelming heartbreak, rediscover myself.
Ingredients for dough: 3/4 cup 2% or whole milk, 1/4 ounce of fresh yeast or 1 package dry, 1/4 cup sugar, 4 cups all purpose flour, 2 large eggs at room temperature, 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, neutral tasting vegetable oil
Ingredients for filling: 2 cups 2% or whole milk, grated lemon peel of 1/2 lemon, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup semolina plus 2 tablespoons, 1 cup poppy seeds
Butter for the pan, 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons 2% or whole milk
- First make the dough. Heat the milk until lukewarm (ideally 110-115F), add yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar to activate the yeast. Stir and let stand until mixture starts to get foamy.
- Pour the flour into a large bowl, add sugar, then begin to stir in milk incorporating with each stir, Add eggs, butter and salt. Begin kneading with hands within the bowl. It will be sticky, don’t worry. Dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead 3-5 minutes until smooth.
- Wash out bowl, dry and rub butter into bowl, add dough and let rise until double in a draft free area, about an hour or more.
- Make the filling: Put milk in 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, add lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and then slowly add semolina making sure to whisk while adding. Cook 1 minute stirring all the time. Then add poppy seeds and mix well. Important: Make sure you use fresh poppy seeds, don’t use the ones that have been sitting in your kitchen for years. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Punch down dough and knead again. Roll out into a large rectangle with rolling pin to 1/2 inch thickness. Spread the cool poppy seed mixture on top evenly almost to edges. Roll up dough lengthwise into a log and wrap tightly in aluminum foil and freeze for 1 hour.
- Butter two 9 or 10 inch cake pans or sheet pan. Remove log from freezer and discard foil. Cut the log into 1.5 inch thick slices. Place in buttered pans and let rise for 45 minutes with a towel to cover. Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Mix one egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of milk together and brush buns with mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden.
- Buns are best the same day they are made. If you want to keep them, wrap the baked cooled buns in foil, in a freezer bag, freeze. Defrost unwrapped in 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.