Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Small kitchens and an orange carrot brioche

The kitchen is where I spend a lot of my time. It is the only place I don't mind cleaning. It is where I meditate by baking. It is where I dance while I mix ingredients. The kitchen is the heart of my home.

If you are an organized person, you probably set out every ingredient you need on the table. I am not an organized person. As I read the recipe I grab ingredients and put them in the bowl. I invariably go from a cabinet to another cabinet, a cabinet to the fridge, and the fridge to a cabinet.

open cabinet,
close cabinet,
step back,
open fridge,
close the fridge


Today I was taking a moment to recoup my energy from a busy day by meditating for just a few minutes. I tried to imagine a place where I felt safe and warm and without any notice a vision of a tiny kitchen from my childhood apartment sprang into my meditating mind, surprising me.

I grew up in my parents first apartment until I was 7 years old. The apartment was very small. The kitchen was barely a kitchen. It was a kitchen/dining room with a small stove and a small sink and a 4 person dining table. It is where my mother cooked and sometimes we baked together. That is also where I learned how to use a knife to properly peel apples. I was only 5 years old then. Looking back I can see my parents generation wasn't as concerned about safety as we are today.

Safety aside, I have a clear memory of making doughnuts with my mother. She would roll the dough on the dining table, no island or counter space for us, and using a doughnut cutter, cut out the doughnuts. I really wanted to make a rabbit shaped doughnut so I attached 2 long sticks of dough as ears for the rabbit. My mother warned me the ears would fall apart. She was right of course but let me do it anyway. During the deep frying process the rabbit ears came off as predicted so I moved to plan B and simply made doughnut sticks. We sprinkled sugar all over them and ate too many. The kitchen was full of joy and laughter.

I don’t have a picture of the kitchen but I found this photo in my archive. It is our old living room. You will quickly notice that my mother, myself, and my father are together almost the width of the entire room. Each night we would sleep here on futons stored in a nearby closet.

We moved to a slightly bigger house eventually. My mother started working. My sister and I became busy at school studying and playing with classmates. The kitchen was bigger. We still enjoyed baking and cooking at our new house but I realized today that I miss the small kitchen and apartment of my childhood. It is tempting to wonder if I am really just missing my childhood when I did not let myself be defined by what I had or what I did, or perhaps it is simply the blissful ignorance of youth.

Enough about my past, let’s talk about baking! Today I will introduce my orange carrot brioche. I went to Big John’s P.F.I the other day and found a bag of orange peels. I was thinking what I could make with them and settled on a brioche. I also had a lot of carrots and thought a carrot or two couldn't hurt? Carrots can add a nice orange color to the brioche and as a bonus hides a vegetable in a food that my daughter might eat.

I used my bread machine until the 1st rise phase. The bread machine is from Zojirushi that I received as my first mother’s day gift from my dear husband. I love it. If you bake a lot, especially bread, a bread machine can help save you a lot of time.

Now, here is the recipe for the orange carrot brioche:

Orange carrot brioche (makes 12)


  • 100 cc milk
  • 1 tbs fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¾ cups of bread flour
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs nonfat dry milk
  • 1 tsp salk
  • 4 tbs butter
  • ½ tsp dry yeast
  • ¼ cup orange peel
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed finely grated carrot
  1. Put all the ingredients into your bread machine. Use the dough setting and let the machine do its job until the 1st rise.
  2. Remove the dough from the machine and punch it until the air comes out. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and start making brioche. (pictured below)
  4. Let it rise again (2nd rise) and when it is ready coat them with an egg wash.
  5. Bake them at 350 F degree for 15 to 17 minutes.

My daughter tried a brioche and proceeded to spit out all the orange peels that she found. I'll have to add orange peels to her ever growing "don't like" list. If only she knew...


  1. Enna looks like your mum in this picture..OK, the brioche is the next level up for me..Not that adventurous yet! They look absolutely delicious!

  2. Hi Yvonne,

    Thank you for your comment. ;) I don't remember if you had a breadmachine. If you have one this is easy to make. They were not so sweet so I ate them with raspberry jam. We should make them together some time. :D