Sometimes the best parts of gathering family and friends together for a time of celebration are the sweet memories that are created. That’s what we’re reveling in right now as we recall the fun party we had this past Saturday, commemorating our youngest granddaughter, Emery Kate’s first birthday. Loved ones came from near and far on a bright, warm Spring morning to help celebrate. We had fun decorating our house for the gala occasion, as you’ll see in the pictures below, but it was nothing compared to the glorious, festive attire of the Bradford Pear in our front yard. It burst into bloom (as if on command) the morning of the party, echoing our joy and thankfulness for this darling little girl who entered our lives one year ago.
A festive, fun wreath we made from 200 bright colored balloons greeted party-attendees at the front door.
I wanted something fresh and Spring-inspired for the table centerpiece so I sprouted some wheat grass. Little did I know that I was sprouting enough to feed a whole herd of cattle so we had lovely wheat grass decorating the house, here, there and everywhere! Don’t be surprised if you see a wheat grass recipe coming up on The Café!
We kept the lunch fairly simple; a fresh salad with ruby grapefruit, avocado, blackberries, red onion and toasted pistachios served with Strawberry-Grapefruit & Sweet Basil Vinaigrette (from last Wednesday’s post), two types of quiches and a basket of warm Brioche Rolls w/ Lemon, Thyme & Sea Salt (click on link below for recipe). Everyone seemed to have happy tummies!
- ½ cup warm water 105-115˚ F.; if you're not used to working with yeast, use a thermometer
- 1 Tbsp dry yeast
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
- zest of 1 medium size lemon finely zested or chopped
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup softened butter
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tsp water
- flaky salt I use Maldon
- Warm the mixing bowl of an electric stand mixer by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Once the bowl is nice and warm, pour out the water and add the ½ cup hot water and the yeast to the bowl. Stir to combine. Let yeast mixture sit until bubbly and foaming, about 5 minutes, then add ½ cup flour. Stir well to combine and set in a warm place until batter rises up and then begins to fall. This will take anywhere from 40-60 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- Transfer the bowl to your mixer with dough hook attached. (If you don't have an electric mixer this can be done by hand. Use a strong wooden spoon for mixing.) Add eggs, sugar, salt, fresh thyme and lemon zest and remaining flour. Mix, with the dough hook, starting on low speed until most of the flour is incorporated, then increase speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes.
- Add the soft butter and mix on a medium speed until it's fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice during this mixing. Dough will look smooth and shiny. It will still be a bit sticky.
- Cover dough with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (May take a bit longer if you don't have a nice warm area for dough to rise.)
- Spray 18 muffin cups with cooking spray.
- Place the dough on a well-floured work surface. Turn the dough to coat with flour. Cut into 18 equal pieces, (about 2 ounces, or 60g each). Coat each piece with flour and form into smooth round balls. Place dough balls into the prepared muffin tins. Cover pans with clean kitchen towels, place in a warm area, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30-40 minutes.
- During the last 15 minutes of rising time, preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Combine egg and water and whisk vigorously to combine. Brush top of each roll with egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To freeze, place on a sheet pan. Place pan in freezer till rolls are frozen, about one hour. When frozen, transfer to zip lock plastic bags. To serve, unthaw and warm in oven, covered with foil, for 10 minutes at 325˚F.
A few tips for optimal rising conditions: if your oven temperature can be set at 100˚F, this is the perfect temperature for yeast doughs to rise. Another trick is to place bowl in the microwave. Cover it with a kitchen towel and close the microwave with a bit of the towel sticking out of the door. The microwave won’t close properly and the light will say on, creating a nice warm yeast-loving spot.