artisan bread goes skinnydipping

Remember the artisan bread I told you you should try?  If you haven’t yet, here’s another chance.  Go!  Last week I hosted a Brunch at Night, because I love brunch but I work on weekends.  When would I ever get a chance to enjoy the amazingly made-up meal unless I moved it to fit my timetable?  It actually wasn’t my idea.  Beth & Jessi thought of it when I lamented to them about my brunch-less plight.  I made an oven omelet–my breakfast-for-a-crowd reflex–but I wanted to do something else.  “Artisan bread,” I thought.  And then, “Sugar….”  And so it was.

Rolling these balls made a doughy mess of my hands.  It was kind of stickily disgusting.  I tried to shape them using only my fingertips, then quickly rolling the naked little doughballs in a pool of white and brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  I studded the top with raisins as an afterthought.  (It was a bad idea: they all burned.)

I did mention that visions of sugarplumstemporarily took over my head, right?  Well, in case you missed that, witness this sweet excess.  I melted a few tablespoons of butter, whisked in some Mexican vanilla, milk, and powdered sugar and ended up with this:

Drizzled over the warm rolls it looked a little something like this:

I won’t pretend that my self-restraint prevented my sampling one of these before the guests arrived.  My verdict is that they should not be marketed as sticky buns/cinnamon rolls/monkey bread or any of those pillowy, caramely concoctions we associate with breakfast bread.  I chose to call them Rustic Raisin Bread because, like their loaf-shaped cousins, they’re chewy.  If I’m being 100% honest, their chewiness is almost off-putting in this context.  You see bread dripping with glaze and expect a soft, pastry-like give.  Instead, these rolls make you(r teeth) work for it.  They’re good, but they’re not what you expect.

I wish I had photographed the whole spread of brunch food that filled the table when company arrived.  We had everything from bagels and cream cheese to fresh fruit and French toast casserole.  It was delicious.  The only other thing I do have photos of is the drinks.  My kitchen counter is weirdly bisected by the stove, so I made half into a cocoa station, with cinnamon-nutmeg to shake on top; and the other half into a tea station, with sugar and honey.  The clear plastic cups were there for anyone who wanted to grab milk from the fridge.

Much to my surprise, having offered chocolate to a gathering of women, the favorite drink of the night was green tea.  I experimented, brewing a whole pot of tea by steeping the loose leaves through a filter in my coffee maker.  I didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work, so I wasn’t surprised to see that it worked well.  What I didn’t expect was that just a handful of us would go through two pots of it.  My friends are healthier than I thought.

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  1. We had a pot once and that was how I made tea, but I was told it wasn't hot enough, so I got rid of it.

  2. Hm. Personally I'd rather have a cup of tea I can drink right away than one I have to babysit until it's cool enough. But to each their own….


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