It takes a certain amount of ego to screw up the courage to put something out there that wasn't there before. Conceive a story and then write a novel. And publish it. Compose a piece of music and then perform it. In public. Pick fruit from your garden, make something with it, and then serve it. To someone else.
Every artist brings their entire self, their entire life, to every piece of new construction. He can only craft the story the way he does because of who he is. My music man brings every piece he's ever heard, or sung, or conducted to the keyboard when he sits down to write something new. She creates with what's growing. Or what she planted. What she likes. What she knows has gone well in the past. Those kind of original compositions are based on experience. Extraordinary.
I am so inspired by these people. So. Inspired. I love to cook, but I have gotten famous preparing the compositions of others. I'm a recipe girl. Famously. New construction in the kitchen has always been stressful for me. I want to know, on the front end of my efforts, that it's all going to turn out well. Be edible. Look pretty.
And then he writes a novel. And it's so good. You should get yourself a copy. And he sits down at the piano one Sunday afternoon to play a little something and it doesn't sound like anything I've heard before so I call down the stairs, "What is that you're playing?" And he calls back, "This is the piece I wrote." No way...really? It's so good. You'll have to hear it for yourself someday. And I walk in the door from work one afternoon and there's a box in the foyer filled with mason jars. They have magical labels like apricot/blue and rhubarb/chipotle. And they are so good. Sorry, not sharing.
And I'm inspired. To take what I know from what I've done. And attempt some new construction. So I started with the basics and modeled them after some successes I've had in the past. Yeast, salt, water, flour. Now what? Something new. I pulled down every spice jar in my cabinet and started reading the labels to the 3 year old. Fennel. Cinnamon. Dill. Anise. Caraway. "What do you think Minnie? Which one should we use?"
Every artist brings their entire life to every piece of new construction. All the parts.
"Let's make cares away bread mom." And there you have it. Let go of your fear of new construction, please. Step outside your box a bit, please.
Back to the basics of yeast, water, flour and salt. You simply cannot go wrong with the basics. True with bread. True with life. But then there's that whole variety thing...spice of life and all. This basic recipe has been spiced up just a bit to take it from basic to something more. Give yourself 2 and 1/2 hours for this one. Don't bother leaving extra time for it to cool before you eat it...there is no way you'll be able to resist it smelling wonderful right out of the oven. A special slicing technique will keep it from smooshing on you when you try and slice it hot!
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground sage
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1. In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. Add the butter, salt, sugar, caraway seeds, nutmeg, sage and half the flour. Beat with a spoon until mixed thoroughly and smooth. Add in the rest of the flour, stirring to combine. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to incorporate the flour, scraping the leftover bits from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes. This dough ball will be very soft and sticky when you begin your kneading. Add handfuls of flour as you knead to prevent the dough from sticking to you or your surface. You'll know you've added enough flour if you can easily work with the dough without it sticking to everything. Don't let sticky dough make you angry. Don't knead angry! Just add a bit more flour...no worries!
2. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray, place dough in bowl, turning to coat all sides with spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Push your finger into the dough to make a dent. If the dent remains, the dough has risen enough. It should be about twice the size as when you began.
3. Turn the dough out again onto a floured surface but do not punch it down or knead it. Tuck the edges in all the way around to form the dough into a dome shape and place it on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, or use a silicone baking mat and skip the spray. If you're feeling kinda "cheffy" you could take a sharp knife and make a crisscross pattern or some shallow slices in the top of your bread. Spray the top of the bread dome lightly with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an additional 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.