I’m sitting here looking out my dining room window at a gorgeous view of the sea and mountains on Whidbey Island. Of course the sky matches my mood-grey cloudy and overcast. If you know me you know that I don’t like to wallow, I try to live and enjoy the present moment. My mantra (or at least I try to make it my mantra) is “This is the best moment of your life”. But lately I have felt stuck. You know that feeling ? Where you start something but can’t seem to finish it ? Like this blog, I started this post right after we returned from the NW Roadtrek Rally in Silverlake, Oregon.
That was August 17th, exactly 30 days ago. First I did the photos, then I uploaded the photos, then I started writing and that’s where I hit the wall. And that’s where I have been stuck for 30 days.
My heart and gypsy soul are out wandering the road in my daydreams and everyday thoughts. But my physical body is here trying to shake this stuck feeling. At first I did what I usually do, go with the flow, reminding myself that this too shall pass. But it didn’t, yet here I am writing again-that’s a good first step.
I know exactly why I’m stuck-I won’t let go of the fact that I’m not out wandering the highways and byways in search of new adventures. I’m here on Whidbey Island-a homeowner-with all of the obligations that come with being a homeowner. Chopping wood for the winter; cutting the grass; cleaning the windows-well you get the picture. There I go, again, whining-oh how I hate whining. So what am I going to do about it. Well I’m going to take Old Blue Eyes advice, “pick myself up and get back into the race”. Now that I’ve planted that little song in your mind it will play over and over and over again !
So here I am, dusting myself off and getting back in the race. I have so much to be grateful for-a sweet kind man who loves me no matter what; a family who would do anything for me; friends who always check in and are there for me at anytime; a beautiful view and my sweet, sweet lovable Hailey. Couldn’t ask for anything more-yes I’m not on the road but I will be eventually and today is truly “The best moment of my life”. And I’m going to enjoy the present moment and look back with fond memories on the beauty we experienced.
Oh, but I do have little surprise for you-pastries ! When we drove through Bend, Oregon on the way home we stopped at The Sparrow Bakery. Being a former pastry chef, whenever we travel I always check out the local bakeries. When I read about this one, there was no doubt we were going to stop. Ocean Roll-two words that bring me to pastry ecstasy-seriously ! The ingredients: homemade croissant dough, vanilla, sugar and cardamom. They had me at cardamom-one of my favorite baking spices . When I bit into my first Ocean Roll, I couldn’t stop the spontaneous swooning. And it wasn’t just me-Jim felt the same way. It was hard to control myself-I wanted to eat the entire thing in seconds, but I wanted to savor every buttery,crisp,sweet cardamom scented bite. And savor I did-I am not exaggerating-these are incredible.
While my first attempt was pretty delicious-it wasn’t quite right-too many cardamom seeds (yes I got carried away); the sugar coating wasn’t quite right and they were more muffin like in shape than pastry shape. So I made some tweaks-I used Bakers Sugar ( a finely ground granulated sugar) instead of regular for the filling; I used less cardamom seeds; I added powdered cardamom to the dough mix; I sliced the dough into thinner rolls; and I sprinkled the egg washed rolls with the Bakers Sugar before baking them. Whoaaaa, these are perfect for me right now ! The reason I say right now is because I didn’t use a classic croissant dough with the all the rolling and turning . Instead I used a “croissant wanna be dough” that I found on Brown Eyed Bakers website. Check out her recipe for Morning Buns-it’s the one adapted for my version of Ocean Rolls.
Someday I will make my own croissant dough-I actually do make a pretty mean croissant, using Tartine’s recipe . Croissant dough is time consuming and I was Jonesing for Ocean Rolls NOW ! So without further ado here is the recipe I came up with for my version of the Ocean Rolls-nothing will ever surpass The Sparrow Bakery- but until you get yourself to Bend, Oregon these will have to do.
Whidbey Rolls (aka my imitation of Ocean Rolls)
For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant (rapid-rise) yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ cups unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices and chilled
1 cup sour cream, chilled
¼ cup orange juice, chilled
3-4 tablespoons ice water (watch the consistency of your dough before you add the 4th tablespoon, you might not need it)
1 egg yolk
For the Filling:
1/4 cup Bakers Sugar
1 tablespoon whole cardamom seed
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
5 ½ tablespoons room softened butter, cut into small cubes about 1/2 to 1/4 inch squares
1 egg beaten with 3 tablespoons water for your egg wash
¼ cup Bakers sugar
¼ cup coarse decorative sugar
1. Prepare the Dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast ,cardamom and salt in a large zipper-lock bag. Add the chilled, sliced butter, seal and shake to evenly coat the butter. Press the air out of the bag and reseal. Roll over the bag several times with a rolling pin, shaking the bag after each roll, until the butter is pressed into large flakes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the sour cream, orange juice, water and egg yolk until combined.
2. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth, cohesive ball. (this is when you can drizzle additional ice water as needed-a very little at a time).Roll the dough into a 20×12-inch rectangle. Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pat the cylinder flat into a 12×4-inch rectangle and transfer to a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes.
3. Prepare the Filling: Line a 12 x 17 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, orange zest, room softened butter, vanilla bean paste and cardamom seeds until all ingredients are blended and it turns into a spreadable butter.
4. Remove the dough from the freezer and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 20×12-inch rectangle and using a metal baking spatula spread the filling evenly, leaving ½-inch border around the edges. . Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a cylinder and pinch lightly to seal the seam. Trim ½-inch of dough from each end and discard. Cut the cylinder into 12-18 equal pieces and transfer cut-side-up to the prepared baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
5.Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Once the oven reaches temperature, turn it off. Remove the baking pan from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place the pastry rolls in the turned-off oven until puffed and doubled in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
6.Remove the rolls from the oven and heat the oven to 425 degrees F. While the oven is pre- heating, take the egg wash and using a pastry brush, gently brush the rolls with the egg wash. Just before you place the rolls back into the 425 degree F oven, sprinkle a pinch or two of the Bakers Sugar over each roll. Then sprinkle the coarse ground decorative sugar on each roll. (Because I’m addicted to cardamom, I also sprinkled a few more whole seeds onto each roll ) Place the pastry rolls back into the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake until the rolls are golden brown, 40 to 50 additional minutes.(watch them carefully once you reach the 30 minute mark-they will brown quickly after that ). Allow the rolls to cool for about 5 -10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. The pastry rolls are best served warm, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.(If they last that long !)
Make Ahead: After placing the pastry rolls on the baking tray , place the tray in the freezer until the rolls are firm, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pastry rolls to a zip-lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To finish, return the rolls to a paper lined pan and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours, then proceed with step #5.
(Original morning buns recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking 2012)
Well, thank you for listening to me, just talking about being stuck helped me to get unstuck. Wishing you beautiful sunny Fall days, a kitchen filled with sweet smelling pastries and a life filled with love and adventure. Happy Trails and safe travels my friends.