This year was full of happenings, things both good and bad, new and interesting people, new and old places, but most of all good food. I restarted the blog in February this year, determined not to quit again as I did when I first started photography and blogging 5 years ago. But those were different times, when I was on my doctoral studies (I have a PhD in molecular biology, there, the secret’s out) and had absolutely no time to continue blogging. This year, a couple of conversations with friends, reflections about the things which are important to me and a couple of weeks later I’ve found myself reopening the blog and started photographing full time. I’ve learned a lot from others, passed hours studying blogs and looking at gorgeous photographs, discovering so many talents. Most of all I had the time to cook all day long and practice on my own since I was jobless during the whole year.
I’ve recently got a job in the scientific area. This time, I promised myself not to let go of what I’ve started. I am grateful to have had this year to seriously re-enter the world of photography, cooking and styling. This world means a lot to me. These are the moments when you can entirely detach and concentrate only on creating. It’s a world full of wonderful and creative people from around the globe, a community which I am now starting to get to know and feel to be a part of. The most important thing I’ve realised this year is that all comes in its own time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in destiny or things alike, I’ve too a scientific mind to do so. Yet I understood that things will come when you are ready to accept them, when you are mature enough to deal with them, or when you worked hard enough to see a good result and a new opportunity. There is no sense in trying to speed things up or being too eager. You just have to be ready. Have to work harder. However, dream big. Remember to be realistic, but keep your hopes high. I am dreaming about making this my job once, combining cooking and styling and photography. And I am working hard now to gain experience for when the moments is right.
This new year will without doubt be a year of hard work. It will also be a year of serious reflection about life and priorities. I hope that in the near future I will be ready enough to make the important changes and concentrate completely on what I love most. Most of all I hope I will be wise enough to take the good opportunities when they come my way and work hard in order to create them.
With that thought I am giving you the recipe for my honey and hazelnut Christmas wreath. It is such a winter-y brioche, perfect for Christmas, which is now several days behind us. But the festive spirit is all around, today is the last day of the old year, and maybe just as well a good opportunity to decorate the festive table with this wreath. I wish you all a year full of opportunities and the spirit to take them and make your dreams come true.
Honey and hazelnut winter wreath
550 g flour (plus more for dusting)
250 mL milk
80 g butter
50 g light brown muscovado sugar
3 tsp dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
100 g grounded hazelnuts
50 mL milk (more if needed)
6 tbsp good quality honey
1 Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
2 Warm up (37° C) half of the milk with one tbsp sugar, add the yeast and mix well. Cover with a dry cloth and leave at a warm place for 10 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy.
3 Mix the rest of the milk with remaining sugar.
4 Melt the butter and add it to the milk.
5 Make a well in the middle of the bowl containing the flour and pour in the milk-butter-sugar mixture, then add the milk with yeast. Carefully scrape all the sugar that might stick to the bowl. Mix the flour into the liquid using a spatula. Continue kneading the dough for a couple of minutes with your hands. When the dough is not sticky anymore, form it into a ball, cover with a dry kitchen towel and leave for one hour on room temperature to rise.
6 Prepare the filling.
7 Roll the dough in around 25×40 cm rectangle. Spread the hazelnut filling over the dough leaving 1 cm border around the edges.
8 Roll the dough on the longest side into a log. Cut the log lengthwise with a sharp knife. Braid the two parts placing one strand of dough over the other making sure to expose the filling.
9 Carefully lift the dough and place it on a large baking sheet, forming a wreath. Seal the ends of the dough together. Leave it to rise in a warm place for another half an hour.
10 Brush the wreath with eggwash, sprinkle with almond slices and bake on 180°C for around 25 minutes, until golden.
1 Heat the milk in a small pan.
2 Add the grounded hazelnuts into the hot milk and stir so that the hazelnuts absorb all the milk. Add a tablespoon more of milk if the mixture is too dry.
3 Add the honey and mix well.
4 Set aside to cool down completely before spreading it over the dough.