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literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

Give This: Tiny Beautiful Things + Mini Multi-Grain Sunflower Loaves

Give This: Tiny Beautiful Things + Mini Multi-Grain Sunflower Loaves

Tiny Beautiful Things is a book I would gladly gift this holiday season. It is a collection of "Dear Sugar" letters from The Rumpus advice column, written by Cheryl Strayed, of recent Wild fame. However, calling Strayed’s words "letters" doesn’t do justice to the beautiful essays that are crafted here, the gems that have become beacons to Sugar’s loyal audience. I have never read another advice column where every reply is bursting at the seams with both empathy and hard-won insight.

You don’t have to take Sugar’s advice with a grain of salt, because not only does she know what you’re going through, she has earned the right to know. She can speak to suffering as a physical manifestation. She knows that sorrow is not a concept, it is a devastating force. In Tiny Beautiful Things, we see what fight, spirit, and forgiveness have given Strayed. Despite the difficulties addressed within its pages, this book is nothing short of inspiring. Every entry is a testament to human strength and compassion, and Sugar endlessly reminds us that sometimes we need to give ourselves some tough love when we are struggling, that sometimes we need reminding that in order to change our situation we have to reach for the things we want.

These pieces are best consumed "as needed," because when you truly do need it, this tiny, bright red beacon can be a powerful balm to whatever aches and pains life throws your way.

Sunflower bread

When I think of a food that is comforting and nourishing, I think of something hearty, something essential. I think bread. Although it’s probably not the first comfort food I reach for, a slice of hearty bread with a pad of butter never fails to satisfy me. So, for a gift that packs a double punch in the comfort and nourishment department, make your lucky gift recipient a mini loaf of Multi-Grain Sunflower bread to munch on while she’s reading some of the best letters that were never sent to her.


MINI MULTI-GRAIN SUNFLOWER LOAVES

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (hulled)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tablespoon water OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast

To mix

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer, or in a bread machine set to the dough or manual cycle). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

To shape

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into three, equal sized logs. Place the logs into 3 lightly greased 5-1/2" x 3" x 2-1/2" mini loaf pans, cover the pans with a towel, and allow the bread to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

To bake

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 18 minutes, until it's light golden brown. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or by measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Once completely cooled, store the loaves in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Note: This was miniaturized from this King Arthur Flour recipe. It makes three mini-loaves or one normal-sized one.


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