Quiet is here.
There recently were days, weeks really, of constant motion, our early July tradition in Harbor Springs. Everyone in the family comes for a long, but short, gathering that we take pleasure in knowing is there for us all year long.
And then you hit this week, the week after, and it can’t be escaped, the silence. The stillness. The quiet.
The thing is: I’m a great fan of all that is solitude. It’s my delicious secret (well, not anymore) to arrive at solitude, unpack and put my things in his dresser drawers, and stay as long as he’ll have me.
So I would never feel that it can get too quiet, would never wish it away for something else.
But here we have arrived at this week, at the heart of summer Up North. And it’s…too quiet. My ears are ringing with the hush as though I’ve just left a loud thrill of a concert (outside; Springsteen; summer 1985).
I miss all of the huggy children around here, the daily plans to eke out the most of every minute from dawn to dusk, the calm exhaustion when you get in bed at night and sigh the deep, open-windowed sigh that comes from knowing everyone is together right here, and that life is now. And fleeting.
The kitchen is a balm to the hush then and takes me in when I come a-knocking. I want my tastes and flavors to be gentle with me these days, aromas that calm and relax. The lavender came just in time. I like to use the flower rather quietly, infused in sugar and paired with her good friend the blackberry. Then stand at the kitchen counter eating my sweet fruited bun, getting ready to unpack and settle in to solitude, once again.
Blackberry Lavender Sugar Buns
These buns are based on a recipe in the beautiful Kinfolk magazine, with my addition of lavender. Lavender is such a great pairing with blackberry that these came to mind when the lavender came in the kitchen this week. The buns can be served on their own or with vanilla sauce, as Kinfolk does, to add another dimension of flavor and texture. This dough is soft and easy to work with your hands. I use two baking pans, but one large one works well too. Makes about 20 buns.
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated lavender sugar
1 cup whole milk, warm (105-110˚F)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter; 10 tablespoons room temperature, 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup powdered lavender sugar
3 cups blackberries
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds, finely chopped
1 tablespoon corn starch
½ cup lavender sugar
5 egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
Butter a 13”x9”x2” or similar sized baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼ cup of the warm milk and stir. Let the mixture proof, turning bubbly and creamy, about 10 minutes.
Measure the flour into a large bowl and whisk in the salt. Add the yeast mixture as well as the remaining sugar and warm milk. Combine with your hands, adding the 10 tablespoons of room temperature butter, until the dough forms. Remove the dough and knead on your work surface for 5 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the vanilla sauce if using. In a medium bowl, whisk the corn starch, sugar and egg yolks. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla and scald to just below boiling over medium heat. Add a small amount (about ½ cup) of the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk. Add the egg mixture to the remaining milk in the pot and place the pot back on the stove over medium low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sauce is slightly thickened. Cover the top with plastic and set aside or refrigerate if making ahead.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine the blackberries with the chopped lavender and ½ cup of the lavender powdered sugar.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for about 2 minutes. Shape into a long, narrow log and cut about 20 even slices of dough. Flatten a slice of dough with the palm of your hand to about 1/4-inch thick. Place 4-5 blackberries on the dough. Bring up all of the sides and pinch them together to form a seam. Place the bun seam-side down in the buttered baking dish. Repeat with all of the dough slices. Cover the buns with a towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
Brush the tops of the buns with the melted butter. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool, then sift lavender powdered sugar generously over the buns. Serve with the vanilla sauce (warm or cold).
Print this recipe here.