Winter has arrived in the great PNW, and it has brought with it temperatures below 50 degrees. I know, I know, that is nowhere near as freezing as you Colorado people are experiencing. But it is cold for me. Especially since we are saving on electricity and haven't turned our heat on yet. Apparently that is what sweaters, socks, blankets, and husbands are for. And of course, drinking hot drinks and baking.
I love using the weather as an excuse to have the oven on for hours at a time. It makes up for all those lazy summer days when I should have been experimenting in the kitchen but was just too hot. But now is the perfect time for showcasing baked goods.
I bought a new bread cookbook, All You Knead is Bread by Jane Mason, a month or two ago, when it was still hot and unseasonably sunny. I've only made an attempt at the recipe for a French Brioche, but it was a wonderful decision. If you've never had brioche before, I highly suggest you find the nearest quality bakery and buy some. It's the perfect bread for lightly toasting, with butter and jam, as tea sandwiches, or even as french toast. It's an enriched dough, which means it has 'extras' in it, like sugar, milk, and eggs. It's delicate and rich, a fortifying combination when served with hot tea or coffee.
I wanted a strong tea this morning to accompany my bread, so I chose a blend that was made just for me by my friend Lis. It is a combination of Purple Indo Oolong, Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong, Lapsang Souchong, and hibiscus petals. It is smoky, slightly sweet, and a little tart. It's served in a Japanese teacup alongside a Chinese tea spoon that belonged to my great, great, great Aunt, who was a medical missionary to China.
Tea, a drink with bread and jam. Jam made by my talented friends Nace and Kaitie! Thanks, guys! So to everyone currently in the throes of winter shock, you knew this was coming. But trust me, things like homemade baked goods and hot drinks make it so much better!