my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon

d’ough!
Well, ya girl is finally not completely sick, which I’m taking as a victory. Considering I’ve spent the last month battling both the flu and a cold, while they in turn both battled each other for fealty to my body, simply being able to get through the night without coughing with metronome-like regularity is pretty wonderful. 
Somewhat more unwonderful is that I had a book proposal turned down. You all know I want little more than to write another cookbook and start an incredibly hilarious TV cooking show and live out my days as a gloriously rich happy wee celesbian. So in the spirit of doing stuff instead of just talking about it endlessly, last month I approached a publisher with my idea for my next book. And…it wasn’t picked up. It’s so weird because half of me is unusually pragmatic about it – telling myself that book proposals get rejected constantly and this is entirely normal and also my proposal was probably very badly formatted since I’ve never done one before; while the other half of me is all dramatically clutching at my heart and wailing “whyyyyyyy but I’m so good why am I not good enough please hold all my calls because I need to take to my bed for a week” and so on. 
So while I’m wrestling between the burning embarrassment of rejection and also the cool, calm acknowledgement that this happens to pretty much everyone who approaches publishers, in telling you all this I’m hoping it lets the cool-calm side win. I like to be stupidly open about myself On Here and just the act of relaying this situation helps it not seem like the worst thing in the world, (I know, there are a lot of worse-er things in the world but I’m incredibly self-centred, okay) and that’s a start. Firstly, I was so lucky to be approached by the publishers for my first book rather than me having to go approaching people, and after what happened with my book last year it took a long time for me to even get to this point where I can put myself out there like this, so it’s all progress and stuff.  Related: my tarot card for September is all about emotional stability and being highly chill. Look at me go! 
look upon my works ye mighty and despair (I care not that this is probably completely the wrong use of this phrase) 

Meanwhile, in an act that reassured me that I still have something to offer the world, I thought up this bread roll recipe the other day and I’m incredibly pleased with how well it all turned out. I had some cream cheese left over from making another thing and wondered if it might be good worked into bread dough in the same way that you work butter into dough when making brioche. As they smugly tend to do, my idea worked. The buns were impossibly tender and fluffy, with a slight, slight hint of tanginess from the cream cheese. I know I make it look incredibly complicated in the recipe below, but really this is very easy – you just mix some stuff together with a spoon, let it rise, knead in the cream cheese and shape it into buns, let it rise again, then bake it. And then, several hours later, tearful, covered in flour and utterly starving, you have yourself some freshly baked buns for very little effort.

I acknowledge that making your own bread might seem like little more than a way to wilfully make your life more difficult, but it really is weirdly fun – watching the dough rise, feeling the change in texture as you knead it, and most of all when you get to hold up the finished product and be all “I created life! With my own two hands! These hands!” The smell of bread baking in the oven is actual heaven, and busting them open and spreading them with butter, which swiftly melts into every puffy crevice, before rapturously biting through the crisp exterior feels like a reward for living. And frankly we all deserve more rewards for living.

cream cheese buns

a recipe by myself

three cups strong bread flour
one sachet instant dried yeast
one teaspoon salt
25g melted butter (plus a little extra for brushing)
one and a half cups of warm water
150g cream cheese

Firstly, take the cream cheese out of the fridge so that it is soft enough to work into the dough later on. Then: put the flour, yeast and salt together in a good sized bowl, then tip in the melted butter and warm water and give it a rough stir so it forms a shaggy, loose mixture. You may need a tiny bit more water, it all depends on your flour and sea level and the curve of the earth and so on. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap or a tea towel and leave in a warmish place – a room with the heater on, in a sunny spot on a table, in a hot water cupboard, on top of an aging and overheated laptop, that kind of thing – for an hour or so, until it has expanded in size somewhat. 

At this point, use your fist to push it down and deflate it, and now you’re going to start kneading the cream cheese into it. If you’ve got the kind of cream cheese that comes in a block, then cut it into thin slices, otherwise just get small spoonfuls of it. Either leave the dough in the bowl and knead it there (my usual choice for saving on mess) or transfer it to a clean, lightly floured surface, and work the cream cheese in while kneading it by putting the cream cheese on top of the dough then pushing it away from you with the heel of your palm and then folding it back towards you, then pushing it away from you again, adding more cream cheese every time. Does that make sense? Push away, bring back towards you, push away, and with every push and fold you should be able to work the cream cheese further into the dough. Ideally you want to be able to actually get it to become part of the dough itself, but it doesn’t matter if there’s a few bits here and there. Just keep working it till it forms a springy, smooth ball of dough. 

Pull off bits of this dough and roll them into small buns, sitting them close together on a paper-lined baking tray. Set your oven to 200C/400F and let the buns sit for about 20 minutes to get a final rise, brush with some extra melted butter, and then bake them for around 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.  

I ate four of these immediately after taking them out of the oven, and then I delivered some to my friend Jen in a pleasingly neighbourly manner, and the remaining ones I ate at around 3am after getting home from work the next night. They are so good. And frankly, I’m pretty alright myself.
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title from: the wonderful and important Nicki Minaj and her amazing song Anaconda (although obviously this bit is sampled from Baby Got Back.) If you don’t mind ending up on a downward spiral of watching choreography videos on youtube and lamenting your own lack of skills, you should definitely get stuck in a downward spiral of watching choreography videos on youtube because the Tricia Miranda choreo for Anaconda is incredible.
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music lately: 

Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion. I’m SO into her right now. Perfect pop.

If Mama Was Married, with Leigh-Ann Larkin and Laura Benanti from the 2009 Broadway revival of Gypsy. You have to scroll few to several minutes in to get to the song but the harmonies get me right in the heart every time. I watched the Bette Midler version of this recently with my excellent girlfriend and it’s just such the musical to end all musicals.

Breeders, Cannonball. Gah this song is so good and there was no one cuter than Kim and Kelley Deal.
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next time: I’ve been making lots of little bits and pieces and instagramming them lately, maybe I’ll do a big post about all of them? Also you wouldn’t know it from the weather but it is the first day of spring so maybe something….springy. 

One thought on “my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon

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