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Ozark Pear Cake & Feeling Home

Ozark Pear Cake

Yesterday, I packed a change of clothes, the 16 year-old pup and we headed down to Charleston for the weekend. I almost said, "home to Charleston" but home has become this "in between" where my heart resides. Charleston will forever be home. This is where I fell in love. With him. With the South. With this incredibly puzzling time of history. With a city living at a sound of a very peculiar beat. Where unbelievable friendships formed and tested time, growth and loss.


Yet, there is not much of what people would consider a home remaining for us in Charleston. Our house there is now empty and Bill moved in with his parents for the time being. But we have a home. We have multiples. They are not made of wood or stone. They have been build with our hearts, our stories, our tears and worries, our joys and laughters. While I could become completely nostalgic and sad of times passed, I just take a moment to appreciate the fact that we have made a home of wherever we are together, regardless of wherever is.

Ozark Pear Cake

Everytime I make the drive down to Charleston, my heart stops in its track at the first sign of marsh land and tall grass. There is a definite look to that part of the world. It lures you, grabs you and never lets go of you. I do miss sunsets and sunrises over the marsh. At the same time, I have fallen completely in love with the luscious foliage of Birmingham, the drives up and down the hills of the city, the genuine kindness of the people there. I was dragging feet getting out of the house yesterday morning to get down here. I felt home. I was going to the other home.

 Home is truly where the heart is and I am incredibly lucky to be able to call both places home.

Ozark Pear Cake

There is something that will always make me feel anchored to a new place and that is baking. The simple act of putting a cake in the oven and being rewarded with the scents of vanilla, pears and cake batter is enough to make anyone feel good anywhere. I could be in my grandparents' home and making an apple tart with my grandmother or with my mother next door making madeleines. I could be here or there and I would feel the same. Grounded.

If making a simple cake is any reflection of the life I lead, well, I made this cake at home in Alabama and took it home to Charleston to be shared this morning around the breakfast table at my in-laws. I am happy and comfortable in my own skin wherever I am. And right now this wherever is "in between". And I will always make a good simple cake to remind me of that (Recipe after the jump).  

Ozark Pear Cake

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Butterhorn Garlic Knots

Butterhorns Garlic Knots-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Last month I posted about a Gruyere stuffed loaf that I had baked during a live Skype baking session with a bunch of flour obsessed gals and gents. We did not intend to make it a monthly thing, we are not even a baking group, Lord knows we are all super busy with, work, life, blogging, etc…We just decided to take one morning here and there to bake in our comfies and just let our mouths get a little loose and our minds in the gutter and I somehow get blamed for this each time (wink wink I also teach them how to type in Helenese but that is for another post). Ok, I’ll admit that last time I did say out loud that the loaves looked like female genitals or breasts implants gone wrong. This time I am glad to report that I passed on the baton to Kelly who formed little turdy things with little funny things sticking out.

We had not really planned to get together again so soon but then Lisa started to email us with visions of garlic rolls she recently had at a restaurant and you know that if you mention rolls and yeast, I lift an eyebrow and Mary sends you the recipe within 12 hours so after a little scheduling we were on for this past Sunday. We decided to pick between two different recipes and although I plan to do the King Arthur one soon, it just was not going to happen that weekend for various reason I will get to another time. I got to give it to Mary though for elaborating blindly on a Bon Appetit recipe based on Lisa’s description, the end product may not have been exactly what she remembered but the rolls were inhaled eaten in three days, no neighbor involved.

I don’t often post about breads unless it is a Daring Baker challenge or another event but Sunday is bread baking day at the house so B. did not find anything unusual in my baking behaviour that day execpt for running back and forth to the laptop and giggling and laughing every other minute. A couple of times he came wondering why I was staring at the screen, with my arms crossed holding my ribs. "They’re writing too fast, I have a missing wobbly w, a missing h, and a wandering m…" When you bake bread, there is some downtime (dough rising) and some fun time (dough shaping, which proved me that I can’t have Lisa on the phone and make a bread knot at the same time!) so bread, cooking, laundry, grocery shopping were also accomplished by some or all while we left the chat window opened.

Beside the three ladies mentionned above, Tanna, Chris, Marcela, Sara, and John, joined in the fun to make the garlic knots.

Butterhorn Garlic Knots-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
The rolls? Good…no, very good! A little too sweet but since I had made a half batch that day, I made another half batch with my correction later Monday evening and those worked better for our taste. European yeast rolls are not as sweet as they are here so B. was happy with the first batch as I was with the second. The shaping was fun if not strange, I did some just fine and dandy and some had me think I had glued fingers and a stalling brain but it’s dough….gather your mess into a ball and do it again, no biggie. I have to say that the more I was looking at the post on the KA blog, the more confused I was getting…step away from the computer and just knot.

Butterhorn Garlic Knots-Copyright%copy;Tartelette 2008 Once the knots were formed, the instructions were to brush them with melted butter and crushed garlic. I had planned to use some fermented black garlic that I had received as a gift but I had a foggy brain that morning and just chopped regular garlic before I remembered. Another reason to do these again. They got brushed before, during and after baking and all that butter soaking in the rolls gave them a really moist texture without making them greasy. I did add fresh chopped basil and rosemary to the dough. The house smelled like a pizza parlor the whole day, and with the neighborhood males gathered in the garage "watching" the thunderstorms and drinking beers, I guess it did feel like one!

Butterhorn Garlic Knots-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Butterhorn Garlic Knots (originally from Bon Appetit, worked on by Mary and reworked by me)

Makes 18
1/2 cup whole milk
6 Tb unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp plus 1Tb sugar, divided
1 Tb dry instant yeast
1 large egg, room temp
3 to 3 1/2 cups, AP flour
1tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced finely

In heavy medium sized sauce pan over low heat, heat milk and 6 Tb of butter until the butter is melted. Do not let it boil. Let cool to 115F degrees. Combine warm water, 1/2 tsp sugar, and yeast in small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes (this is for flavor not to proof yeast, unless you are using active yeast in which case you are proofing and getting flavor)
In large bowl of stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat egg and remaining sugar at low speed until blended. Beat in milk mixture. Gradually add 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time until blended smooth. Replace the whisk with dough hook. Add yeast mixture, salt, and 1 cup of flour (1/2 cup at a time), beat at medium low speed. You will have a very wet and loose dough that climbs the dough hook but falls back down the bowl by this time. One Tb at a time, add enough remaining flour to form a firm but sticky dough ball. The dough balls will pull away from the sides of the bowl and not flop back to the sides.

Pour 1/2 Tbsp melted butter in large bowl that can be fitted with a lid or that plastic wrap clings to well. On very lightly flour covered counter and with lightly floured hands, give dough 3 – 5 quick hand kneads to form good dough ball and then put in buttered bowl, turning dough over to coat with butter. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place (I like the oven turned off with the pilot light light on…or the laundry room when the dryer is on!) until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough, fold dough over in half and then half again, and brush with melted butter. Cover bowl again and let rise again in same warm draft free place until doubled (about 1 hour).
From here follow the directions for making the knots as shown on the KA website . Just don’t tuck the ends in to get the shape you want.
Cover and let rise until double, brush with melted butter and garlic and bake in 350F preheated oven for 15 -20 minutes.