There’s a chill in the air in Chicago, a hopeful, exciting chill that hints of fall and golden leaves and hot, frothy drinks that you sip while wearing cozy sweaters.
Wednesday, as I walked out of work, I breathed in the fresh, crisp breeze and caught the smell of something baking—doughnuts? bread?
And as I drove home, even on the trafficked expressway, the air changed to barbeque (whatever restaurant was responsible for the aroma should package that smell and sell it. I would wait in line) then to deep-fried and then back to doughy.
As it happens, this is also the time of year when traffic gets especially bad, a combination of construction and kids going back to school and no more summer hours.
While cars inched forward, my windows down and my radio playing, I started dreaming about something warm and comforting from the oven. And by the time I pulled into my driveway, I knew I wanted fresh bread.
If you haven’t made fresh bread before, I bet I can guess why: it takes time. And kneading. And more time. And more kneading. All this work can seem pretty pointless when an artisan loaf at Dominick’s goes for $2.69.
But can I suggest something? Just as there are times when one should grab the fresh-baked grocery bread, there are times when she should spend an evening in the kitchen.
You just can’t beat the feel of elastic dough in your hands, its texture changing beneath your fingers as you fold and push, fold and push again. I don’t get the urge to bake bread often (believe me!), but when I do, it’s insatiable.
Wednesday night, I wanted a sweet bread and chose stollen, which is a traditional German Christmas bread, a sweet and yeasty creation filled with raisins and nuts and candies.
This recipe makes three loaves, and the slices will only be as sweet as you want them to be. The add-ins are really up to you; I used golden raisins, Zante currants and sliced almonds, but you may want crushed candies or extra raisins, or you may want to forgo on nuts altogether.
It’s a delightful breakfast bread, a yummy snack and a perfect reminder of the coming fall (and then holiday!) season.
Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna has a Masters in Writing through Depaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.