I was walking down the street around lunch time the other day and passed by a bakery/cafe– suddenly I was hit by the wonderful, buttery, unmistakable aroma of freshly-baked croissants. I had just eaten lunch so was able to resist buying one to devour right then and there, but the memory stayed with me and I was moved instead to bake something to satisfy the craving at dinner that night.
I decided to go with some soft, buttery dinner rolls– there was no time for croissants, but there were enough similarities between the overall flavor profiles (butter, yeast, golden outer crust) to make them a decent substitution. And when I found a recipe that promised to have pillowy rolls ready with zero kneading and minimal rising, I knew I had to try it. The added interest of black pepper just sealed the deal.
I love tiny baked goods– especially ones with some kind of dainty little decoration on top. Sweet or savory, I can’t resist them! So it was only a matter of time before I tried out an idea that I think I first saw in one of Martha Stewart’s books– tiny little biscuits with a sprig of parsley baked right on top. So adorable! I served them at a picnic last weekend and they were a perfect addition to the menu!
Recently I was enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with my daughter and mentally scrolling through the contents of our refrigerator, planning her lunches for the upcoming week, when it occurred to me that I hadn’t made her anything particularly cute for lunch in a while. Since she had just put on her little apron for a session in her play kitchen, I thought she might want to help me with this project– and of course then I knew that it had to feature cats in some way.
Remembering my previous piggy bun project, I thought I might try a variation on it and make “kitty buns.” Since I didn’t have any savory fillings ready I decided to use my currant bun recipe for the dough. All was going well– the dough mixed up just fine, rose nicely– and then it was time shape the kitties.
I’ve already mentioned my love for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess— quite apart from the doll reference, Sara was a character I could relate to (at least in some respects), always telling stories and imagining things.
There are several references to food in the book– rich, savory soups, hot muffins, sandwiches, cakes– but the most prominent takes place when Sara is out on a cold winter day. Tired, cold, and extremely hungry, she daydreams about being able to buy some hot buns, when suddenly she happens upon a lost four-penny piece!
And then, if you will believe me, she looked straight at the shop directly facing her. And it was a baker’s shop, and a cheerful, stout, motherly woman with rosy cheeks was putting into the window a tray of delicious newly baked hot buns, fresh from the oven—large, plump, shiny buns, with currants in them.
As a child, I didn’t really know what currants were, but “large, plump, shiny buns” sounded delicious. I figured that these buns would be lightly sweet, studded with rehydrated dried currants, with a shiny egg wash and perhaps even a light sugar glaze over the top.
Cute food is its own excuse, right? But I admit that having a kid to pack lunches for makes a nice reason to spend a little more time making things adorable. My daughter, despite our best efforts to introduce her to new and interesting foods, stubbornly adheres to a diet consisting of chicken nuggets and other processed meats (i.e., hot dogs and ham), along with carbs of all kinds. When we went to dim sum last weekend and she carefully ate only the outside of a steamed barbecue pork bun (the filling was not deemed acceptable), I knew that I could make a variation she’d devour. Continue reading