The little things matter. Trust me, they truly do. It's the little details of the big events that we hold most dear to, that stand out amidst the fuzzy blob of sound, color and smell. The yellow shorts patterned with flowers worn to an excursion when I was five. The cookies in the glass jar during Chinese New Year 3 years later. The unbuttoned collar during a performance. They are all the minute constituents which make up the big picture. Every brushstroke painted upon canvas. Every tablespoon of flour tossed into a batter. Every additional word on a page.
The little things DO matter, like the second-last page guy of Time Magazine (Joel Stein) who is one of the factors I read Time. The little spoons which came along with boxes of kiwi in the past. The samples from my mum's Chanel sets when I was little (evidently, I wasn't the most street-smart).
But it's not just in the past. It's today too. The flowers which appear casually strewn over a set-up? Every individual one carefully placed in the spot. Every word written on an essay to grade? Each word analysed thoroughly before submission. Every detail examined with precision, examined and re-examined countless times.
They matter since we draw inspiration out of them, those small edges which stand out from the blurred background. We learn from them, develop ideas from them. They set off a spark in our minds, one that grows into a full-blown firework display to dazzle all. Those humble roots, those small beginnings which once appeared insignificant.
They matter, especially in bread-making. It's what I've been up to : baking bread. I've been elbow-deep in dough, pressing and pulling. Unfortunately, the little things really mattered, and being absentminded me, I forgot to warm the milk in my second batch, later paying for it by having to recompensate for the time used trying to re-activate the yeast (luckily, I succeeded). Anyhoo, I tried it out with both bread and all-purpose flour, my verdict being that bread flour yields a slightly denser bread than all-purpose.
Peanut butter in place of butter / oil makes a dough very, very lightly laced with a peanut flavour, and jam, well, it saves the trouble having to spread jam on your bread. What are you waiting for? Stop loaf-ing around and start making this!
PB & J Rolls
Adapted from the little epicurean
makes 10 rolls
2 1/2 c bread flour (all-purpose works fine too)
1/2 c extra fine flour
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c warmed milk (lukewarm)
3 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tbsp. coconut / olive / any other neutral oil
1/3 c jam (I used St. Dalfours Strawberry, though you could use this)
1/4 c peanut butter
2 tbsp. milk
1-2 tbsp. sugar / maple syrup, depending on how sweet you'd like it to be.
1. Sift both flours, yeast, sugar and salt.
2. Add in peanut butter and oil. Rub it in the flour till 'crumbs' form.
3. Pour in milk. Gently knead it until a ball of dough which does not stick to the bowl is formed.
4. Transfer it to a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Leave it in a warm place to rise for an hour. (I put it in the microwave)
5. Remove and roll it out to a 9 x 15 inch rectangle. Spread jam on it, leaving an approximately 3 inch border from one of the 15 inch sides.
6. Carefully, roll it up starting with the 15 inch side without the border.
7. Using a long section of dental floss, slice the roll into 10 pieces.
8. Neatly arrange the rolls in a baking dish with some spacing between them, and leave in the oven for half an hour.
9. Switch on the oven to 180c, and bake for another half an hour.
10. Let them cool for 10 minutes before removing from the dish. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for frosting and drizzle over the rolls. Serve, and enjoy.
Store them in the fridge overnight and warm with a microwave for 10 seconds or lightly toast in the oven.
Cinnamon Raisin-Almond Plaits
Using the basic bread dough recipe from above with 1 tsp cinnamon (sans jam), after the first rising, knead in 2 tbsp. chopped almonds and 3 tbsp. raisins. Divide it into 14 pieces. Again, divide the individual balls of dough into three long 'ropes'. Press the end of all three together in a 'pyramid' shape, then begin to plait. Once left with a little dough at the end, press all ends together. Spread them out on a greased baking tray and leave to rise for half an hour in the oven. Switch on the oven to 180c and bake for 25 mins. Let cool for 10 mins and enjoy.
- to be continued -