Grape pie.

Why don’t I bake more pies?  I’m not really sure.  I used to buy pies often… but they weren’t particularly great pies, and I stopped doing that.  I thought, why buy a pie when I know I could bake a tastier one?  But I never started baking them—the pie recipes kept getting pushed to the back of the recipe box.

I don’t know why, I mean, I love pie.  Like, love love pie. I guess I just forget about it with all the chocolate chip cookies that I do bake and all the great chocolates that I buy from the local shops.  And all the stewing hens and heirloom pork for that matter.

So why was it that, on a very rare occasion of pie-making, I decided to make grape pie?  To tell you the truth, I have no idea.  I like a thrill?  I’m a sucker for oddities?  Or maybe I just figured: if I mess it up, at least I’ll get points for originality.

The end project was just what I was looking for:  a buttery, flaky crust, jam-like filling, and an overall effect of “weird-tasty.”  It takes you a bite or two to get used to grape pie—the immediate thought is that you are eating jelly-pie, but once you get used to it, the grape really works with the golden brown crust.  It’s also not overly sweet, something I really desire in a pie, and I’m sure it would work wonders with a good ice cream.

The recipe, from Bon Appetit magazine, uses red seedless grapes, since concords aren’t widely available.  Next time though I may try the concords.  Also, since red seedless are less mushable that concords, I would chop up the grapes in the food-processor to a near puree instead of leaving them in pieces—creating an even more pronounced jelly taste.

My favorite part of this recipe was the crust—it had no sugar besides what you sprinkle on top and the taste of butter was, mmmm…. drool.

I think I may start baking more pies after all.

Grape Pie

from Bon Appetit Magazine//Sept. 08

For the crust

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

For the filling

  • 8 cups stemmed seedless red grapes (about 2 1/2 pounds; preferably organic), rinsed well, patted dry
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons frozen grape juice concentrate (made with Concord grapes), thawed
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
  • Raw sugar

For the crust
Blend flour and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, blend until most of butter is cut into 1/4-inch pieces (mixture will resemble coarse meal). Add 2 1/2 tablespoons ice water. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball. Divide in half; shape each half into disk. Wrap; chill at least 1 hour.

For the filling
Place half of grapes in processor; using on/off turns, chop into 1/3- to 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to large sieve set over large bowl. Repeat with remaining grapes. Drain off and discard 1 1/2 cups grape liquid.
Whisk 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in another large bowl to blend. Mix in drained grapes and grape juice concentrate.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 9-inch pie dish with nonstick spray. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 13-inch round; transfer to dish. Brush dough edge with egg glaze. Fill with grape mixture. Roll out second dough disk to 12-inch round. Top pie with dough; trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll edge under; crimp. Brush top of pie with glaze; sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut several slits in top crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake pie until golden and juices bubble thickly, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes.

¡Hola Fruta! ¡Hola Moving to a New Apartment!

The week before you move into a new apartment, you don’t eat much but pizza and ice cream. You’ve packed your pots and pans, cleaned out all the fresh food from the fridge, and your current apartment is a maze of boxes that you wouldn’t risk carrying a hot plate through.

Luckily for me, Pierre’s Ice Cream had me covered. A representative from a branch of Pierre’s, ¡Hola Fruta!, contacted me last week. ¡Hola Fruta! makes all-natural, low-fat sherbets of many Spanish-centric fruit (and drink mix) flavors—and they wanted to send me samples! I could hardly stop from jumping for joy—I knew I was in for some grueling days of packing and this would do just the trick to perk me up.

I’ve tried the strawberry and mango sherbets, which are deliciously light and sweet, with a creamy texture that you just can’t get with sorbet. Then I tried the pina colada and pomegranate-blueberry sherbet pops, which were intense and fruity and perfect for when you need to use one hand to pack boxes while the other holds your pop.

And then, after the packing was done, I tried the margarita… in a margarita. The ¡Hola Fruta! website gives a recipe using tequila, triple sec, ice, and the sherbet—and man, it is good. It is, like, forget all about how exhausted you are from packing and how sad you are that it’s only half-done good. It’s, by far, the best margarita I’ve ever had good.

Tomorrow’s the big moving day and I’ll be without internet until next week, but I urge you to go right on over the ¡Hola Fruta! store and buy some sherbet. I know I’ll be going back for more—which makes me think this whole offering samples thing is a ruse, because everytime some company offers me samples, I become a die-hard customer, spending even more money on food than I already do. Ah, well, let me forget about all that while I have another margarita.

Margarita

recipe from ìHola Fruta!

6 oz tequila
2 oz triple sec
3 generous scoops of Margarita ¡Hola Fruta!® Sherbet
1 cup crushed ice

In an electric blender, blend crushed ice, tequila, triple sec and ¡Hola Fruta!® Sherbet. Blend at high speed for a short length of time until smooth. Pour into glass and serve.

Lame Baker

I’m usually a good Daring Baker. I may wait until the very last minute to do a challenge but I’ll get it done and, more importantly, get it done right—which means no cheating on the recipe rules.

But not this time. See, this go-round I got lazy and by Saturday night when we got back from food shopping and I realized I forgot to get lollipop sticks, I threw caution to the wind and decided to make “Cheesecake Balls” not “Cheesecake Pops.”

Maybe I should have planned better. Maybe I should’ve went to the craft store earlier in the day and bought the sticks. But life, as it tends to do, got in the way.

Our Saturday was spent at Shadfest, the annual festival in Lambertville, NJ honoring the shad that swims through the Delaware come springtime. Jim, Champ, and I lazily traipsed around the festival—not thinking about Daring Bakers for one moment—eating shad wraps and taking photos. By the time we got home, tired and happy, I almost threw the whole notion of cheesecake anythings in the trash.

But then I got a second wind and decided to make the balls. The cheesecake was surprisingly easy. I divided the recipe into fifths, because one can only take so much cheesecake. Everything was whipped up in cute little bowls since the ingredients were so fractioned off (.04 cup of flour can’t really mess up your kitchen). However, once the cheesecake came out of the oven, I was already tired, and didn’t want to bake anymore (but, of course, wanted dessert for the night). I rolled the balls up too soon—they were bumpy and quite ugly—and then froze them solid while I continued to finish dinner and get a bit zonked on some good wine. A little bit later, I tipsily dipped the balls in chocolate, threw on some sprinkles, and devoured some immediately, watching an episode of Entourage. I didn’t, silly me, even take a picture.

Luckily, there were some left over (still on the plate, which I threw in the fridge before bed, you know, for food safety) and I took some snaps this morning, trying not to get chocolate on my new MacBook.

The recipe for the real cheesecake pops is here and here, at the lovely sites of this month’s Daring hosts, Deborah from Taste and Tell, and Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms. And of course, you can find all the links to the other (better) Daring Bakers here.

Back and Ready to Party? No, not really.

Hello! I’m back, sunburnt, over-tired, and ready to start the (super-fun!) process of looking at my vacation photos. So, this post will be short—one to tide you over until I write up my vacation, boring you silly with the details (you’re excited, right? right?) I’m really only writing because:

It’s Daring Bakers Time!

Yes, you heard me, I completed the Daring Bakers challenge even though the deadline coincided with the first day back from my vacation. See, this month, I was a good DB. I knew I wouldn’t be able to procrastinate until the absolute-last-minute before deadline and I made this cake ahead of time. I know, I’m just that good.

The challenge was Dorie Greenspan’s Party Cake and we were encourage to play around as much as we liked. I used orange marmalade as my filling. It doesn’t make for a pretty cake—one where every layer is cut with a beautiful red stripe of raspberry jam—but it was the only homemade jam I had on hand and the tanginess of the orange and lemon in the marmalade was great with the buttermilk cake and buttermilk whipped cream topping.

The challenge was hosted by Morven and you can find the recipe on her page (sorry, I’m being lazy). To make my version, substitute orange marmalade for the lemon curd, take out the coconut, and use buttermilk whipped cream instead of the icing (1/3 cup buttermilk to 2/3 cup whipping cream, with 2 tablespoons of sugar—whipped to your liking.)

I would give you some details about how it tasted, but I’m tired, so go look at all the other wonderful DB posts and drool over their much-prettier-than-mine cakes! I’m going to go take a nap.

Simplicity in a Pound Cake

Simple, buttery, sweet. Recipes with these criteria have been popping up around the blog-(and magazine)o-sphere recently. Molly made a Busy-Day cake. Claudia jazzed it up a bit. I was already drooling over the prospect of a simple, buttery, plain cake when Saveur’s March issue sat down on my doorstep. The words, in bold block-lettering stamped on top of the word Saveur, said “How to Bake the World’s Best Pound Cake.” It was the butter issue. I got goosebumps.

Usually, if a dessert is not chocolate, it doesn’t exist to me. Normally, I wouldn’t even notice a piece of pound cake if it were shoved right under my nose, never mind bake my own. But of course, this is why food magazines (and blogs) are so popular—they make you do things you’d never imagined doing. Like, I never would have paired tomatoes with coconut milk if I hadn’t seen it so beautifully photographed in the very same magazine months before. Saveur has a way with me, making me cook things even if I am 100% percent sure that I won’t like it beforehand (I’m always wronged.) And this time! Even though I’ve never tasted a pound cake I liked before (sadly, I’ve tasted a lot of pound cake) I was bombarded with such lovely posts and pictures and magazine articles that I threw caution to the wind and got my beater a-beatin’.

Of course, I learned that I do like pound cake. At least this pound cake. It probably helps that this pound cake is made with 12 ounces of butter. It’s moist. It’s buttery. It’s sweet. And… it is simple. It’s something you can make on a weekday. And then you can take it in to work the next day, and in your most stressed out and harried moment, shove a piece into your mouth and feel all-better. Simplicity in a pound cake.

Pound Cake

serves 10//from Saveur Magazine Issue #109

My cake didn’t have the familiar browned crust like a normal pound cake because I was focused on having it as moist as possible and took it out a bit early. I was happy with the results, but do as you prefer. I also made it in small (4-in) bundt and cake pans, though I’m not posting my adaptations because you might as well make the big cake—you’ll want it to stick around.

Also, I saw on Serious Eats that Ed Levine left out the almond extract. To me, that’s blasphemy! That almond flavor is critical to pound-cakey-goodness. But, ahh, to each his own. (He does, to his credit and my renewed admiration, suggest draping bacon slices over the cake.)

12 oz. butter plus more for the pan, at room temperature
2 tbsp. plus 3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. fine salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure almond extract
1 tsp. pure lemon extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature

Heat oven to 325°. Generously grease a light-colored 10″ tube pan with butter. Add 2 tbsp. flour; turn the pan to coat it evenly with flour, tap out any excess, and set aside. (The inside of the pan should be smoothly and evenly coated with butter and flour, with no clumps or gaps.)

Using a sieve set over a bowl, sift together remaining flour, baking powder, and salt. Repeat 2 more times. In a measuring vessel with a pourable spout, combine milk and the almond, lemon, and vanilla extracts. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter at medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, 1⁄4 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat until satiny smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 egg at a time to the butter mixture, beating for 15 seconds before adding another, and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down sides of the bowl; beat just until the batter is smooth and silky but no more.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and firmly tap on a counter to allow batter to settle evenly. Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out moist but clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; let cool completely before slicing.

Intensely Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés

Since Valentine’s Day is smack in the middle of the week, Jim and I decided to begin celebrating it early this year, by having a wonderful chocolate dessert on Saturday night. Silly as it seems, I was uneasy about making anything with bittersweet chocolate. You see, there’s nothing bittersweet about our relationship.

We are young twenty-somethings who have been living together for a little over a year-still feeling as if we are merely “playing house.” We live together easily, deciding, quite amiably, to decorate our apartment with beautiful photography, bookshelves, and maps–Jim agreed that I can display teacups on some shelves, I allowed for the maps. We’re in love and calmly happy together. Sweet, see, but never bitter.

So, I am a bit too superstitious (I blame it on my Italian blood) to make anything bittersweet for our Valentine’s Day dessert—not that I think cracks could form in our relationship over such a silly thing, Jimmy, but knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder, etc.

The problem is that we don’t eat much milk chocolate anymore. Out of a screwed up sense of “healthy,” we decided that we could have chocolate daily—if it was very dark (80%)—since dark chocolate has all those antioxidants and stuff. We decided this over a year ago and since then our chocolate tastes have changed dramatically. It’s almost a bad thing—I’m not satisfied by M&Ms or Snickers bars anymore (maybe it’s not that bad of a thing) and we either have to spend a lot for boutique desserts or make them ourselves. I guess I could have gone out and bought a chocolate dessert that didn’t specifically tout being made with bittersweet chocolate—in that don’t ask, don’t tell sort of way—but not making your newly-madly-in-love with boyfriend a homemade dessert on your 2nd Valentine’s Day together would be blasphemy!

Thankfully, I came across Alice Medrich’s Intensely Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés while scouring my cookbooks for a suitable dessert. I decided I needed a little poetic license this V-Day and here’s what I came up with: Since our relationship is not bittersweet, I will lend the metaphor to the word “intense” because who doesn’t want an intense relationship? (Sane people, probably) Furthermore, since “Intense” (minus the -ly) is the first word of the dessert, it obviously means that our year will be filled with intensity and we can safely forget anything about bittersweet since second words never matter in fortune-telling (I actually have no idea if that is true, but I think we can all agree I’m full of it anyhow).

It’s a good thing I was able to concoct this excuse because the chocolate soufflé were the perfect amount of chocolate bitterness and, for a soufflé—a dessert made with more egg whites than butter—they were extremely decadent. You can prepare the soufflés in advance, allowing you to simple pop them in the oven 15 minutes before you wish to eat them. They don’t rise much, but the flavor is spectacularly rich. The first batch I made had a texture closer to mousse than soufflé, but I baked the remaining ramekins for less time than given in the recipe (I have an electric oven which is usually hotter than I intend it to be) and they had the characteristic ooey-gooey insides. Jim fell in love with the little chocolate ramekins immediately, licking them clean. If I wasn’t a stable woman, I’d be jealous.

Intensely Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés

serves 6//from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces 70 % bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 3 large eggs, separated at room temperature
  • 1 egg white , at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Method

If you are baking the soufflés right away, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 °F. Butter the ramekins and sprinkle with sugar.

Place the chocolate, butter, and milk in a large heatproof bowl in a large skillet of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the water bath and whisk in the egg yolks. (Don’t worry if the mixture stiffens slightly or is less than perfectly smooth at this point.) Set aside.

In a medium, dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with a an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Gradually sprinkle in 1/3 cup of sugar and beat at high speed until the whites are stiff but not dry. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it ,then fold in the remaining egg whites.

Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins, filling each three-quarters full. (The soufflés can be prepared to this point, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bake directly from the refrigerator.)

Place the soufflés on a cookie sheet. Bake until they rise and crack on top and a wooden skewer plunged into the center emerges very moist and gooey (but the centers should not be completely liquid), 14 to 16 minutes, perhaps a minute or so longer if the soufflés have been refrigerated. (If you want the ooey-gooey middle, however, shorten the cooking time by a few minutes.)

When they are done, remove the soufflés from the oven, and serve immediately with a little powdered sugar sifted over the top, if you like.

Dulce de Leche

When you can’t get off the couch, when anything but a horizontal position sends shooting pains to your feet and knees, when you are so angry about the pain that you get up, sure that you are better, and proven wrong, need to be carried back to bed by your boyfriend, when this happens, there’s not much do to.

You could start up your laptop and check and re-check all your favorite food blogs, hoping beyond reason that they will all create new posts every hour upon the hour so that you have something new to read. You could have your boyfriend bring you all your cookbooks, surround yourself with them on the couch, drop glistening tears on the shiny pages which tease and taunt you with their lovely recipes that require standing, and good health, and therefore you cannot make. You could watch the Food Network and “Guy’s Big Bite” until you want to pluck every bleached blond hair from his ridiculous head. Then perhaps Barefoot Contessa will come on, and your boyfriend could walk in on you in the living room, your face tear-streaked and a whimpering smile on your face, and you could explain to him that the love between Ina and Jeffrey holds no bounds. You could go uninhibitedly mad.

Continue reading “Dulce de Leche”

Happy Holidays! Chocolate Chip Cookies Worthy of Angels

I’ve been thinking about angels a lot lately. Jim and I recently finished watching the HBO series of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and it’s the type of film that stays with you for a while after it ends. The play, set in New York City during the 80’s, focuses around Prior Walter, a gay man with AIDS, and his partner Louis who, fearing the ickyness of the disease, leaves Prior. At the same time, the story also follows a Mormon couple from Salt Lake City who’ve moved to NYC. The wife is addicted to Valium and going crazy, and the husband (a Republican) is a closeted gay man. Oh, and this Republican is friends with Roy Cohn.

Not the typical setting for angels, you say? Well, it turns out that Prior is a prophet; a beautiful (and somewhat ditsy) angel visits him frequently. If you haven’t seen Angels in America, you must, because I just cannot do justice to Kushner’s philosophical ideas about New York City, America, God. Continue reading “Happy Holidays! Chocolate Chip Cookies Worthy of Angels”

Speculaas Muffins

Speculaas cookies (sometimes called Dutch Windmill cookies) evoke warm, farmiliar memories in my mind. I can picture my sisters and I, very young, sitting in the backseat on the way home from a drive to Pennsylvania Dutch County, with a box full of these wonderfully aromatic spiced cookies, our roadtrip bounty. I have no idea whether this is a real memory or one I somehow made up (0lfactory memories have a way of doing that to me!) All I know is that I loved these cookies, and the smell of them brings on a wave of good, warm, fuzzy childhood memories, even if they are rather blurry.

Speculaas cookies are traditionally made for St. Nicholas’ Eve in Belgium and the Netherlands. They are crunchy, thin gingersnap-like (but oh, so much better) shortbread cookies usually cut, using wooden stamps, into shapes that resemble windmills, animals, or relics of St. Nick. I don’t have such cool wooden stamps, and I imagine the cookies really aren’t the same without them, but I am feeling quite sentimental this holiday season. I’ve been jonesing for the aroma of the cookie’s spices, which include cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom or anise, white pepper, and sometimes clove, but I needed to make myself muffins for work—I’m not working from home anymore, so I have to plan my meals!—so Speculaas Muffins it was!

I couldn’t have been more pleased with the memory-triggering results. Turns out, the most memorable thing about the cookies was the spiced aroma—though they are mighty cute as windmills! I was almost contented by simple smelling the muffins, inhaling deeply as I pressed the muffin to my lips; then I realized how great they tasted and I gobbled them right up.

The batter is a simple muffin batter, one I use for plain muffins or traditional blueberry ones, though I used walnut oil instead of canola for a deep, earthy flavor. I used AP flour, though I’m sure a whole wheat pastry flour would work well, complimenting the rich walnut oil and spices. Also, I used half-and-half as the liquid in these muffins simply because that’s what I had on hand. You can sub regular milk, cream, butter, yogurt, or whatever it is you’ve got.

Speculaas Muffins

makes 10-12 muffins
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • 6 T walnut oil
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground anise
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¹/8 tsp ground white pepper

Method

PAM or grease a regular sized muffin pan. Preheat the oven to 375º.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg with the sugar until it begins to get fluffy. Whisk in half-and-half, walnut oil, and spices.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Gradually fold flour into wet mix, taking care not to mix too much to avoid tough muffins—the mixture should be juuust combined when ready.

Spoon mixture into muffin cups and bake until golden brown on top—about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven. Inhale. Take care not to burn your nose when you bend down to take a whiff.

Pan de Muerto

That I am not a religious person is an understatement. I’m not a lapsed follower, a confused agnostic, or spiritual in any way that involves more that a belief in the Earth, science, and Nature. I am 100% atheist and very comfortable being so.

So, I don’t believe we go anywhere after we die (though, yes, I know, I can’t actually prove it) and I pay no mind to the thought of Heaven or Hell. That said, I do have immense respect for the dead, those we knew personally and our ancestors, as well as the affect of the dead on the living. The emotional rollercoaster we ride when faced with a loved one’s death is life-changing, and the ability of the living to keep on living after this happens is worthy of celebration. Celebrating our lives in the face of death, the lives of those who’ve come to pass, and the lives of the ancestors who gave us our rich history is not a strictly religious ideal, but more of a human one (though hey, animals mourn too).

Rituals celebrating the dead have gone on for thousands of years, and the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico trace back to the Mayan and Olmec civilizations. The Day of the Dead celebrations on November 1 and 2 are a way for people to pay respects to the dead—decorating graves and making delicious offerings. Everyone who likes to cook knows how great it feels to give food to loved ones, so why not deceased loved ones? By offering the deceased the food that you put your sweat and tears into (not literally!), you get to benefit from that warm, fuzzy feeling.

There are a few traditional foods used for offerings at the celebrations (and lots of traditional liquors), including sugar skulls and Pan de Muerto. Skulls have long been used as a festive and celebratory symbol of the dead, like in the floor mosaics of Pompeii, and weren’t always the scary Halloween-or-poison symbols that we have today. Pan de Muerto, “Bread of the Dead,” is a semi-sweet bread, sometimes decorated with skulls, or formed into a skull and bone shape. Anise almost always flavors the bread, and some recipes, like this one, call for orange.

Pan de Muerto

This bread, which uses a lot of flour, goes perfectly with coffee or tea, and I imagine orange marmalade would be quite wonderful on it as well.

Makes 2 small loaves.

  • 2 T anise seeds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 T grated orange zest
  • 1/2 ounce (2 packages) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 5 cups flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 egg yolks plus 2 eggs, lightly beaten together
  • 1 or 2 of the egg whites for brushing loaves
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable, corn, or canola oil

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 tablespoons anise seeds and 3/4 cup water to a boil. Remove, cover, and let sit about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the water and the seeds.*

Meanwhile beat the sugar and zest until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Add the 2 tablespoons of drained anise seeds, yeast, salt, and 3 cups of flour, and beat to mix, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved anise water and melted butter and beat (not vigorously) until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the yolks and beaten eggs and beat until incorporated and dough is sticky, about 1 minute. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until fully incorporated.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn the dough (along with any scraps at the bottom of the bowl) onto it, and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Coat the interior of a large mixing bowl with oil, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil, cover loosely, and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let rise until it doubles in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn the dough onto it, punch down, and divide into 2 equal pieces. Shape the dough into 2 round balls and use the heel of your hand to flatten into disks about 2 inches thick. Place the disks as far apart as possible on a large baking sheet. Cover the loaves loosely and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let rise until they double in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

In a small bowl beat the reserved egg white with 2 teaspoons water and brush all over the loaves. Bake at 375º, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the loaves are well-browned and crusty, 25 to 30 minutes. Place the bread on a wire rack and cool to just warm or room temperature before slicing. Serve up on your most beloved gravestone—or just eat it all yourself, in celebration of those underground (I’m sure they won’t mind!)

Optional: Mix 3-4 T of sugar with 1/2 T of ground cinnamon. Paint 2 T of melted butter over loaves and then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Hey, it’s sweet bread, right, so why not go all out!?

*If you don’t like the anise seeds in the bread, boil them in water to make the anise-flavored water and then discard the drained seeds. You’ll still have the (though a bit subtler) flavor of anise.