First of all: a happy New Year! I hope you had a good start and wish that 2014 will be great for everyone! I personally can't wait for all the challenges I will face (first up: getting my A levels done...) and the sweet happy memories that come along.
Christmas week took me and my family to the lovely Red Sea Coast of Egypt and oh, boy - it was GOOD! 25 °C - lying in the shadow on a super comfy sunlounger - my tummy filled with the most awesome breakfast of french toast, an egg and tomatoes with the best sheep cheese. A week filled with sunny weather, full of laughter and life with my loved ones. We relaxed all day long, only moving to get some meals (okay, this is not 100% accurate: we also went swimming, walking and running). As usual, my main activity was trying aaall the food and making up the recipes for it (and trying to healthy-fy some)in my head ;-). Foodie 24/7 - I can't help!
Okay, don't want to bother you with stories of awesome holidays, I hope you had a lovely christmas with friends and family and definitely aren't one of those eight-christmas-parties-within-two-days-making-all-the-food-eating-all-the-food-looong-boring-talks-with-relatives-stress-twenty-four-hours-no-christmas-contemplation kind of persons who collapses at the 26th December (hey, if you find yourself in this explanation I don't mean it rude or anything, as I've got friends and relatives who handle it the same way - it's just not my kind of Christmas and theirs neither, 'cause we hear the same complaints EVERY single year). Let's just devour in some holiday pics before I start with today's recipe.
The sun/light is just great isn't it?
2014 had a quite warm start over here, while most countries are drowning in the snow, here in Europe it's about 10-14 °C - you can easily leave the house without any warm jackets. Doesn't really feels like winter at all :-(. Don't get me wrong, I don't need freezing rain week after week, but some snow or temperatures minus 5 °C wouldn't be so bad :) Then you can just cuddle up in your bed all day long, with a nice warm cup of tea and enjoy fresh baked goodies right out of the oven - soul food at it's best!
All those New Year's Resolutions really tag me around this time. While I regularly believe in consistency and balance (good, proven basics with new ideas and ways) as the key to happiness and thus omit New Year's Resolutions for myself, I'm really proud of everyone who makes some AND sticks to them! Whether it's running the first race, eating more veggies or doing sport regularly - go for it, as soon as it's a habit you won't be able to go back! But I didn't want to go in detail on sports, nutrition and hard work or whatever your New Year's Resolution is. The whole atmosphere of a fresh new start with great changes got me right back to the essentials and concerning this, I just thought of my blog:
With a new blog design (now splashing around in a subtle blue) it's all focus on the content and recipes! The simple and essential, that's what I want to tackle: we're really local and seasonal eaters round here and that's what I want to stress with my kitchen adventures: Food straightforward - mostly local and seasonal ingredients with special additions, turning simple basics into special treats for a healthy, balanced life and an everlasting kind of connection through food - to be true I have experienced nothing more communicative than a 20 person sunday family lunch with simple meals! In this way, let's go for a happy new year, with love for what mother nature delivers right before our own door, spicing it up with special ingredients to create unique dishes and goods with that little something.
This tea wreath just proves how good and satisfyingly sweet baking without refined sugar can be: it's a yeasted lightly citrus-y ´Whole Wheat Dough, swirled with a Date and Black Tea Filling and sprinkled with roasted Hazelnuts and a crumbly Cinnamon-Cardamom Streusel. It's perfectly eaten plain or with a little nut butter or jam.
The hearty Whole Wheat pairs up perfectly with the soft filling and the slight "roughness" of the hazelnuts contrasts the fine Streusel. It's perfect for a moment of rest and taking a deep breath before you continue running through the place to clean and organize and work and ... - relax for a second, grab your hot beverage of choice and black out the whole New Year's stress around you - you won't regret! The quite long process of preparing a yeast dough will be totally worth it - to be true, I love making yeasted breads (or even better: sourdough!).
You mix and knead them, they rest. You knead or shape them once more, they rest. And then there's finally time to bake. In my mind it's calming to have such recipes, yes, you might stand in the kitchen for three hours, but the slow process is so calming - no chance to reach for the phone because of the dough on your fingertips and the latest e-mail has to wait a little too, because your laptop wouldn't be as excited to get a generous sprinkle of flour like the workface where the dough is kneaded. While nature does it's magic in the oven you can clean the bowl and spoons, devour in a promising smell of cinnamon and cardamom and once the bell rings and the wreath is done you have set the table or brewed a nice cup of coffee to sip between the whole mmhmmmms :-).
Whole Wheat Tea Wreath with Cinnamon-Cardamom Streusel- for one wreath, ~50cm in diameter, dough and shaping inspired by Elemental Custard