honey date bread

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sweet-lab

“I need to write a sweet-lab thing…”. Those are the exact words I just shared with Mark as I was clicking away and making my way to the sweet-lab wordpress site. Well, that certain “thing” is actually called a post. Although it has been such a long time since the last time I wrote one that I think I had momentarily forgotten its correct term.

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sweet-lab

Yes, it’s been a while since the last post.

But let’s be real for a minute. This whole process called “blogging” can be a pain in the ass sometimes. You know it as well as I do. I love it, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I don’t think that I would enjoy life near as much without it and it has been my joy for many months. I miss it when I’m not baking or writing for it, but man oh man.

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sweet-lab

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

Sometimes, just thinking of all the different steps involved in sharing a post makes me want to pull my warm silky blanket over my head and pretend I haven’t even heard of http://www.sweet-lab.com. And if my apartment doesn’t have an adequate amount of natural lighting, am I really supposed to go out in this 20 degree weather to capture better quality pictures?!! Yes. The answer is always yes.

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sweet-lab

But thankfully that motivation eventually returns. Eventually I start getting antsy when I haven’t created any new recipes for the site. I get the sudden urge to get myself together. I need to get myself in the kitchen and create something tasty, because when I’m in there doing that, I swear that that’s what I was born to do and it is all worth it.

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sweet-lab

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

So here it is. This recipe for this honey date bread was the little bit of inspiration I needed to get off my butt on a free day and into the kitchen, take some pictures, and type this up in order to share this with you.

Because you know, it’s what I love to do.

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sweet-lab

sweet-lab

sweet-lab

Ingredients:

15 oz unbleached bread flour

2 tsp salt

9 oz warm water

1 T active dry yeast (equivalent to 1 small package of 5/16 oz or 8.75 g)

3 oz honey

1/2 C dates, pitted and roughly chopped

1/4 C fine oat bran

1 egg and additional salt for finish

Recipe:

Note: This recipe is done in stand mixer but it can also be done by hand. The mixing time will just be longer.

1. Combine bread flour and salt in mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until flour and salt are well combined, about 15-20 seconds.

2. Mix warm water and honey in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water and honey mixture and allow yeast to dissolve.

3. Drizzle water/honey/yeast mixture into mixing bowl while mixing on low speed. Change to hook attachment and increase to low-medium speed on the mixer. Continue mixing until dough becomes smooth and elastic in appearance, about 10-20 minutes. Test the dough by cutting a small piece of dough and stretching it out gently. If it tears, continue mixing. If the dough becomes translucent before it tears, the gluten in the dough has developed correctly and the dough can stop mixing. This test is known as the windowpane test.

4. Turn mixing speed to low and gradually and gently add the dates, followed by the oat bran. Continue mixing on low until all solid ingridients are fully incorporated into dough.

5. Remove mixing bowl from machine and cover with plastic. Allow dough to rest in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Press a finger into dough. If dough springs back, it needs to rest longer. If it doesn’t spring back, it has rested and fermented long enough.

6. Return dough to a floured surface and knead to expel gas. Cover dough with kitchen towel and rest briefly for 10-15 minutes.

7. Knead and shape dough into a boule by pushing it back and forth in a circular motion over a floured surface until it reaches the shape of a smooth round ball.

8. Cover the with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a day. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour before baking.

9. Remove dough from bowl and place it over a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment paper, being careful to keep the shape of the boule and tightening it if necessary by moving it in a circular motion over a floured surface before placing it on baking sheet. Score the surface of the dough with four lines to create the shape of a diamond. This will help the dough expand and create precise paths for carbon dioxide to escape when the pressure becomes too great inside the dough during oven spring. It also improves the overall aesthetic of the bread.

10. Egg wash the surface of dough with a pastry brush and sprinkle it with with kosher salt.

11. Place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven and fill with one cup of water when ready to bake. Place bread on the top rack and bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Keep pouring water into the cast iron pan throughout baking time to create more steam inside the oven. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can use an old baking sheet she as well. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F and continue baking until done, about 45-50 minutes. Bread should make a hollow sound when it’s done and should have an internal temperature of 180 F – 210 F.

Cut yourself a slice, spread butter and drizzle honey over it…or simply enjoy it by itself!

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biscuits • nothing more, nothing less

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This morning I made biscuits for breakfast. They were warm, flaky, and buttery.

I had them with butter and peach preserves because that’s just how I like to have them. Simple, right?

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Biscuits with peach preserves for breakfast. Nothing more, nothing less.

Delicious.

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When I was a little girl and my mom would ask me what I wanted to have for breakfast I would usually reply with a sad “nothing” during weekdays. I rarely felt like eating anything for breakfast during weekdays because weekdays would = school days.

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I guess that going to school would cause my stomach to close up and make me lose my appetite in the morning. Who knows what the cause of all those butterflies in my belly was–the responsibility of going to an all English-speaking school while still trying to learn the language, my thick Spanish accent, being away from home for so many hours, the pressure of trying not upset my teacher, my first crush, all of the above…?

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Not wanting to eat anything in the morning would break my mom’s heart, so there were times when I tried to take a few bites of whatever was around just to make her happy.

When the weekend came, my appetite was as strong as a 8.6 magnitude earthquake and my stomach was relaxed and anxious for food. I always craved waffles, pancakes, or biscuits for breakfast and they all had to be accompanied by a tall glass of Nesquik.

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But biscuits were my favorite breakfast treat. Biscuits with butter and peach preserves precisely. Yes, if I was going to have biscuits, they just simply had to be served that way.

So on a relaxing Saturday morning I would take the warm biscuits my mom had prepared…I cut them in half…I spread some of the softened butter and waited for it to melt and sink into the soft interior…Finally, I dropped some peach preserves on the buttery and moist biscuit and spread it all over. I was young, but I already knew the ways of the world…

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And then I was ready! I could finally enjoy my splendid breakfast while settling my focus on the morning cartoons.

It was a perfect moment. Exactly what I wanted. Nothing less, nothing more.

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(Yield: 4 -6 biscuits. This recipe was taken from the simple biscuit ratio of 3 (flour) : 1 (fat) : 2 (liquid). The recipe for the biscuit dough is presented in the book  Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. Therefore, I did not write or develop this recipe).

Ingredients:

9 oz flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3 oz chilled butter, diced

6 oz milk

Procedure/Recipe:

1. Strain the flour, baking powder, and salt directly over a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

2. Press and pinch the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the butter becomes pea-size. This step can also be done in a mixer with a paddle attachment.

3.Pour in the milk and combine just until dough forms and holds together.

4. Sprinkle working area with flour and roll dough into a rectangle that’s about 4″ x 6″. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for about half hour, until dough has chilled and is firm.

5. Remove dough from fridge and unwrap it. Sprinkle working surface with flour and roll dough to a rectangle that is about three times its size.

6. Fold dough into thirds and roll it out again.

7. Fold it in thirds again and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for about half hour, until dough has chilled and is firm.

8. Remove dough from fridge and unwrap it. Sprinkle working surface with flour and roll dough to a rectangle that is about 1/2″ thick.

9. Cut dough into rounds with a ring cutter and place rounds onto a sheet pan.

10. Bake at 400 F for about 20-30 minutes