February 1, 2008


I bake a lot. It makes me feel productive, creative and calm. I love the feel of the dough on my hands, but mostly I use the mixer unless I'm making bread. I make focaccia bread and brioche everyday at work. But at home I make more simple things. I recently made an old family recipe called "potica."

It originated in Eastern Europe but my mom's Italian family used to make it every Christmas. My Aunt Kate would bring it from Colorado with her when she and my uncle came out to visit us, their car weighted down with food they made themselves: canned tomatoes from their garden, along with peaches and apples, pizzelles, peanut brittle, and toffee candies and of course, the potica. 

Potica is a yeast bread that is rolled out, with a filling of walnuts, brown sugar, raisins and butter spread evenly over the surface, and the whole thing is rolled up and set aside to proof before baking. It is then sliced and served warm or at room temperature. It's perfect with coffee for breakfast. Although it's not something I'm likely to make more than once a year, it is a special thing. My Croatian neighbor, Erwin, is the only person I've ever met outside my family who knew it. So I made this and brought some to him and his wife and his Croatian parents while they were visiting. They loved that I knew how to make it. But then his mother sent us some of hers during the holidays and it was sooooo much better. 
I also bake cookies a lot. For the holidays I gave away these packages with ginger cookies, linzer cookies, almond shortbread and chocolate cut-outs. I also make bread everyday at work--foacaccia and brioche- and I love them both. There is something really nice about starting your day early with a cold slab of freshly made dough, set it aside to rise and go back to it, shape it, bake it and see it through to completion. It's very satisfying and something I love about my job.
The pizza-ish thing is a fruit focaccia I made at home with some leftover dough one day. 

And lastly, my dog Olive. Even though she is known to indulge in my baking from time to time without permission, how could I stay angry at that face?

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