Rainbow Rising - a Loaf full of Color...
After almost two decades living in an endless summer; waking up to a bright, golden sunlight streaming through the curtains and never having to lack from the sunshine warming my cheeks, I have never had the opportunity to miss it; to long for the brisk, grey winter days to end and the smell of barbecue, and fresh mowed grass, and for bright blooms to come bursting through the dirt.
Last winter was our first one in Ohio, and I was also completely distracted with the closing on our home and bursting at the seams with the thrill of getting settled in the new house and jumping into turning it into the family home we have always dreamed of - one far removed from the dingy rentals and continuous sunshine of Los Angeles that we have always been accustomed to.
The weather last year was mild; so mild, in fact, that I felt certain global warming had definitely changed the landscape of Ohio seasons forever; because this was not the midwest sleeting, slushy, grey snow that never melts winter of my youth. But the unrelenting flurries and nearly freezing temperatures of this new year have most certainly invalidated my theory. This is, in fact, winter in the midwest and we are, after a year and a half, officially Ohians once more.
But now, even having experienced it, complained about it, on the coldest of nights walking my rambunctious 8 month old puppy even wondered what we could have POSSIBLY been thinking leaving the year round golden glow of California, I have to confess that I don't think I could ever live without the seasons again. The delight of knowing the warmth is coming; that in a couple of short weeks I will rip the 'February' out of my calendar and the mornings will start to warm. The thrill of planning out what we will fill those unfinished sections of our garden with and that first morning digging in the dirt.
Winter is cold, harsh, abrasive, infinitely lonely at times. But it toughens you; restores your inner peace and gives you more perspective on your life and your goals for the days ahead than the best of vacations or the deepest of hikes in the forest. Carrying in the firewood, stomping through two feet of snow to let the dogs out, lifting your face skyward to feel the tiny drops of ice on your cheeks as you wait for the school bus to drop off the kids, feeling the thin layer of cool sweat on your neck underneath layers upon layers of thick coat and scarves and constantly lost gloves and knit hats. The way the seasons force you to break your perpetual routine and become aware and appreciative of the quick passage of time; how they refuse to allow you to take a sunny day for granted.
And speaking of warm sunshine, and Spring, and giddy anticipation, this afternoon I celebrated the sunshine and its promise of Spring with this lovely marbled Rainbow Bread. It really is so beautiful and happy-inducing that I am excited to make it again.
Marbled Rainbow Bread
(recipe adapted from tablespoon.com)
~ 1cup milk plus 1 egg yolk
~ 1 egg yolk
~ 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
~ 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
~ 1 packet of active dry yeast
~ 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter - softened
~ 2 teaspoons salt
~ Red, yellow, green and blue food coloring
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, whisk milk and egg yolk together and microwave 30 seconds. Set aside.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, sugar and yeast.
Add milk mixture, butter and salt and stir to combine. Using dough hook and stand mixer or by hand on a lightly floured surface, knead dough until it comes together and is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes with stand mixer or 10 minutes by hand.
4. Divide dough into 5 equal pieces; place each piece in a small bowl and cover with a tea towel.
5. Remove one piece from a bowl and place it on a plastic cutting board (or any surface you're willing to cover with food coloring). Add several drops of food coloring (I'd start with 10 drops and keep adding as you go). Using gloves to prevent your hands from getting dyed, begin to knead the food coloring into the dough, adding more food coloring until it is fully incorporated. This takes some time; just be patient and it will come together!
6.) Shape dough into a ball and return to its bowl. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough, dying each a different color (red + blue makes purple), being sure to wash your hands/gloves and your work surface between each color.
7.) Cover bowls with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
8.) When dough is risen, punch down dough. Remove red dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface into an 8-by-4-inch rectangle. Roll out yellow piece of dough into an 8-by-4-inch rectangle and place directly on top of red dough. Repeat with green, then blue, then purple doughs until you have a stack of 8-by-4-inch rectangles.
9.)Roll up dough tightly from the short end into a loaf. Place loaf in a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
10.) Heat oven to 375°F. Uncover dough and bake until browned on top and a thermometer inserted in the bottom center reads 190°F, about 30 minutes.
11). Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
As I was kneading the dough this morning as this kids downed their breakfast before school, I told them not to expect much. I seriously had low expectations of how this would turn out. Working that color through the bread dough definitely did not hurt getting my tank top arms toned. But it seriously came out so good that I can't wait for them to come home and try a warm piece of Rainbow bread with a golden pat of butter at its end, as we wait out these final cold days and dream of those first buds to start appearing...