Baking during winter is a challenge. While there's that romantic notion of kneading away as the wood fire crackles and the rain tumbles down, the realities of a day job and a cold, inner-city flat mean that I don't get to delight in such fancies as nearly as often as I would like. But the desire is always there, and with a few similarly-themed posts suddenly hitting my to-do list it was time for dough with bits.
I began with orange and oat scones. A classic American recipe - which to me is more of a bread-biscuit hybrid than the traditional fluffy dough that's destined to be embellished with jam and cream - this version had a fabulous flaky texture thanks to the whole wheat flour and oats, and the orange zest added an alluring citrus punch. With the dough itself bordering on savoury, the currants provided an occasional burst of sweetness, and as an afternoon snack with a fresh pot of tea, these triangular treats were most delectable indeed.
For savouries, it was on to black olive bialy. Touted as "an east European cousin of the bagel... only better" these were hard to go past. Simple to prepare, and with a lovely light yet chewy texture, these bialy were a great variation on the humble roll, featuring a delightful little onion-filled pocket that unexpectedly developed from their pre-bake depression.
But what I wanted to try above all else was these pan di Ramerino. As you well know, I'm quite partial to a fruit bun, and so the idea of a sticky, raisin-studded bun flecked with aromatic rosemary taken fresh from the oven was, quite frankly, my idea of heaven. Unlike with most bun recipes, here the rosemary-infused oil was added after first prove, and so I admittedly lost a little confidence as I struggled to form the slippery dough into balls. But with flavour combinations that lend themselves to being 'rustic' the haphazard shaping seemed only appropriate, and what came from the oven was so fragrant and light that I can easily see these becoming a frequent indulgence.
Definitely something to enjoy whilst dreaming of that country estate...