Bag, bags, bags. I can’t seem to get enough of them lately. Small, medium, large, I love them all. These I made using this tutorial. I love them because they open wide. They are perfect for knitting. I am getting ready to make up a whole bunch of them, but need to get some more free time first.
Boxy or slim, they are just so handy to have around. This one is based on another bag tutorial I found, but mine is much bigger. I like it, but it’s not as stiff as I would like, so I’ll likely be playing with it a bit, which means I might make one or two or ten more.
My sewing skills are still lagging, so occasionally, I just have to buy one, and if some yarn gets bought with it, then all the better. I love these bags by Three Bags Full. They are really well made and come in all kinds of fun prints and sizes.
Oh, here’s another one that I recently received in a bag swap. Isn’t it cute? The yarn that came with it is beautiful as well.
I just love little bags. You really can’t have too many of them.
Lately, I have been devoting much of my knitting energy to finishing up some things. I discovered this summer knitting challenge and have decided to take part, so until the official cast on date of June 1, my goal is to finish as many works in progress as possible.
So far this week, I have finished my sky ladder cowl, knit with a nice sproingy yarn that I got a few years ago at the MD sheep and wool festival. I used up every inch of the skein that I possibly could, which is why the third repeat of the pattern is cut short a little. It felt a little dense while I was knitting it, but it blocked out nicely and has a lovely drape now.
Then, I finished up the fingerless mitts to go with the billow cowl that I finished a few weeks ago. These were super quick and fun to knit.
Hopefully, next, these socks will be finished. This is an old project that I started last year. I finished the first sock back in March and am now halfway through the second sock. It is definitely going faster the second time around, which is actually a change for me. Usually, I drag my heels through the second sock and they seem to take forever.
Finishing is going to be the focus for the next week or two, not just in my knitting life, but also with our school days. Things are finally starting to wind down and become a tad more relaxed. I know in a month or so, I might be driving myself crazy with all the unstructured time we have, but for now, at least, I am going to enjoy every second.
What have you been finishing lately?
Also known now in our house as Fussy Pockets. Yes. Fussy. But, they are so, so good and worth the trouble.
The last time we did brioche for Tuesdays with Dorie, we made amazing Pecan Sticky Buns. The base dough is the same brioche dough and just like before, it was a very soft and super active dough.
Because of scheduling constraints, I decided to do this recipe all on one day, which is not necessarily something I would recommend. It was a lot of work and my dough never fully chilled, which made it more difficult to work with.
This is not a recipe that you can really make without a stand mixer. Mine worked for about half an hour before the dough was done. Of course, I did double the recipe because if I am going to all this work, I’d rather have more for my investment of time and energy.
Just like before, my dough rose in about half the time stated in the recipe. If you want a slower rise, you might consider putting it in the fridge from the start. Mine just about tripled in an hour.
While the dough is rising and chilling, there are fillings to be made. I did the recipe in the book and a variation that used cheddar cheese instead of goat cheese. I also added ham because the boys all wanted it.
After all the filling ingredients were prepped and cooled, I started working on assembly. Here is where I fell down on the picture taking because my hands became floury and sticky with dough. It was not an easy process with all the rolling out and the dough kept getting soft and misshapen. Here is where using your freezer can really help a lot. I ended up rolling out each piece of dough, transferring it to a piece of parchment, sticking it on a baking sheet and popping it in the freezer. After about 15-20 minutes, the dough was nice and firm, and much easier to roll out to the proper final thickness and cut into shapes. I put all the rounds onto sheets of parchment stacked on top of each other, and stored them in the freezer until I was ready to do the final assembly.
Assembly is pretty easy and straightforward. After a short rising time and a nice egg yolk glaze, the pockets are ready to bake.
After all that work (probably 6 hours from beginning to end, about half of which is waiting around time), the rewards are these beautiful savory/fussy pockets. Of course, you can spread out the work by making the dough ahead of time and storing it in the fridge for a day or two or freeze it for up to a month.
Some extra asparagus on the side is all you need to round out your dinner or lunch. Eaten warm, they are heavenly. Every one of us loved them. The brioche is soft, tender, and luxuriously buttery. The filling is hearty and flavorful. I was glad I added the ham because the filling might have been a tad bland without it.
Out of my doubled recipe, I was able to get 18 small pockets and two larger ones that I made when I got tired of re-rolling the scraps. I baked up 12 of the small ones, and froze everything else. They will come in handy this week when I have several days that are super busy.
Aren’t they just beautiful? They are fussy and I won’t pretend that I wasn’t muttering a lot while working with that soft dough, but the results are really worth it.
The ones with poppy seeds have goat cheese and the sesame seed topped ones have cheddar. There is one person in my family that is not a fan of goat cheese, and he was happy I made some without. Incidentally, I had some leftover filling ingredients, but that turned out to be fine because the potatoes are just really cheesy mashed potatoes and were great as a side dish later on in the week.
These would look very beautiful in a bakery case display, don’t you think?
Oh, and guess what! Today is my turn to host Tuesdays with Dorie, so I get to post the recipe for you! Here it is. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
1/3 cup warm whole milk (100° F to 110° F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Put the milk, yeast, egg, and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended. Sprinkle over the remaining cup of flour to cover the sponge.
Set the sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. After this resting time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly.
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge. Set the bowl into the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients look as if they’re about to come together. Still mixing, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour. When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed. During this mixing period, the dough should come together, wrap itself around the hook, and slap the sides of the bowl. If, after 7 to 10 minutes, you don’t have a cohesive, slapping dough, add up to 3 tablespoons more flour. Continue to beat, giving the dough a full 15 minutes in the mixer-don’t skimp on the time; this is what will give the brioche its distinctive texture.
Be warned-your mixer will become extremely hot. Most heavy-duty mixers designed for making bread can handle this long beating, although if you plan to make successive batches of dough, you’ll have to let your machine cool down completely between batches. If you have questions about your mixer’s capacity in this regard, call the manufacturer before you start.
Incorporating the Butter
In order to incorporate the butter into the dough, you must work the butter until it is the same consistency as the dough. You can bash the butter into submission with a rolling pin or give it kinder and gentler handling by using a dough scraper to smear it bit by bit across a smooth work surface. When it’s ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool-not warm, oily, or greasy.
With the mixer on medium-low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. This is the point at which you’ll think you’ve made a huge mistake, because the dough that you worked so hard to make smooth will fall apart-carry on. When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce the speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl. Clean the sides of the bowl frequently as you work; if it looks as though the dough is not coming together after 2 to 3 minutes, add up to 1 tablespoon more flour. When you’re finished, the dough should still feel somewhat cool. It will be soft and still sticky and may cling slightly to the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with rlastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Second Rise and Chilling
Deflate the dough by placing your fingers under it, lifting a section of dough, and then letting it fall back into the bowl. Work your way around the circumference of the dough, lifting and releasing. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or for at least 4 to 6 hours, during which time it will continue to rise and may double in size again.
After this long chill, the dough is ready to use in any brioche recipe.
If you are not going to use the dough after the second rise, deflate it, Wrap it airtight, and store it in the freezer. The dough can remain frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight and use it directly from the refrigerator.
SAVORY BRIOCHE POCKETS
makes 12-15 pockets
4 small red potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
24 to 30 asparagus tips, 2 to 3 inches long
Steam the potatoes until they can be pierced easily with the point of a knife. Drain the potatoes well, put them in a large bowl, and mash with a fork. Add the goat cheese, stir to mix, and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature, or cover and chill it for a few hours. When the mixture is cool-everything must be cool before going into the pockets-stir in the chopped chives.
Cook the chopped onions in the butter, in a small skillet over low heat for about 20 minutes, until the onions turn a caramel color. Set aside to cool.
Drop the asparagus tips into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until tender, or until a knife point meets just a little resistance when piercing the asparagus. Drain and then plunge the asparagus into ice water. Drain again and dry before tucking into the pockets.
1 recipe Brioche dough, chilled
2 large egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup poppy seeds
12 to 15 fresh sage leaves
Divide the brioche in half; keep one half covered in the refrigerator while you work with the other. Working on a lightly floured cool surface, roll the brioche out to a thickness of 1/8 inch-don’t worry about the shape of the dough; you’ll be cutting rounds from it. Place the rolled-out dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and chill while you roll out the other half of the dough.
Again, work with half of the dough at time. Using a 4- or 4 1/2-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out as many circles of dough as you can from the brioche. You should be able to get a total of 24 to 30 circles from the entire batch of dough. Scraps of dough can be chilled and, once firm, rerolled and cut. If the circles are very soft, chill them again before filling.
Place 1 tablespoon of the caramelized onions on each of half of the circles. Top with 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture and finish with 2 asparagus tips. One at a time, take an unfilled circle and dimple it with your fingertips to stretch it a little. Place the circle, dimpled side down, over a circle with the filling, using your fingertips to press the dough down around the mounded filling; or seal the mound of filling by pressing the back of a biscuit cutter against the dough, positioning it so that it encircles the mound of filling and delineates it. Pick up the edges of both layers of dough and roll them in toward the mound of filling, folding them over so that they form a rim around the filling; press the rim down gently to seal. At this point the filled pockets can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month. Thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator before proceeding. Place the pockets on two parchment-lined baking sheets and brush with the beaten egg yolks.
Set the pockets aside to rise, uncovered, at room temperature until puffy and spongy to the touch, about 20 minutes.
Baking the Pockets
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F Give the pockets another coat of egg wash, sprinkle some poppy seeds on each one, and top with a sage leaf. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are beautifully browned, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Once baked, the pockets should be enjoyed the day they are made.
When bad days cluster together, I find myself in search of fluff during the free minutes I have. Fluff can take lots of different forms. Cake is one type of fluff. Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb has really stolen my heart this week.
It comes from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. Richardson has also written the other book pictured here, Vintage Cakes. I have been enjoying these two little books immensely. The jam cake from Vintage Cakes was really well received by my ladies craft group (sorry, no picture. It’s been busy.) and the blueberry cake I made awhile back is also from this book. Now that fruit is starting to come back in season, I will probably be trying out more recipes from Rustic Fruit Desserts, and if they are all as yummy as the rhubarb cake, I will be very happy.
I’ve also been doing a little bit of easy knitting that goes by quickly. These mitts should be done today. It will be nice to cross something off of my list and I’ll be just in time, too, since I am expecting a squishy yarn package or two in the next couple of days.
Even my reading gets lighter. I had been working on Les Miserables and some other various classics and even a history book, but this week, all my reading time was devoted to a fluffy book called Needles and Pearls. It’s one of those girly books loosely based around someone who owns a knitting shop. While not particularly great writing or even a great story, it was easy on the brain and calming in the sense that it did not raise any heightened emotions. Just what I needed this week. Sometimes, real life is stressful enough and I don’t need more stress in my reading or crafting or baking.
What about you? How do you change your routines when life get stressful?
I have nothing finished to show you today. Just lots of half (or less) finished things, but there is progress there.
The silky yarn is still a pleasure and I’ve passed the armholes by a few inches now.
All the bits and pieces I need to start quilting my new pillows are all cut out and awaiting basting and layering.
Of course, progress on existing projects is delayed a bit when I start new things, like this long cowl/scarf thing.
And this new sock for the husband.
And mitts to go with the billow scarf that I finished a couple of weeks ago. Can you tell that I like to have a lot of things going on at once? You might think that I am easily distracted, but actually I am not. I just like a lot of variety. Everything gets worked on in its turn and they almost always get finished. It just takes a lot of baby steps. Kinda like life, really. We’re all unfinished projects, right?
By the way, I had the best meal on Sunday. This is a toasted english muffin with herbed sauteed mushrooms and spinach, topped with a poached egg, hollandaise sauce, and jumbo lump crab. The husband made it for me for mother’s day and it was scrumptious. I think I’ll keep him!
Oh, I did finish one thing this past weekend: my blocks for do.good.stitches. These are nice and cheery, aren’t they?
What are you working on lately?