|From Adriana Baking|
I find it difficult to believe that my freshman year of high school is officially over. With every passing year time seems to hurry by faster, and this year was no exception. Memories of specific events from the beginning of this year are hazy and the details are just out of my grasp, but my thoughts and opinions from the start of high school remain clear.
Along the course of the year I would often try to remember my first impressions of high school to compare them to the reality I was living. My impressions weren’t too far off – I thought I had a set of teachers that fit me perfectly, but the precise mix of personalities in my class painted a rowdy picture of raucous teenagers with no patience for learning. Unfortunately, this painting burst to life almost every class, leaving our teachers exhausted, and I with a growing desire to switch classes. Such strong personalities often tend to imprint themselves onto their classmates’ minds, and in my case, their constant chatter and tireless energy fortunately grew on me and have left me with fond memories.
I’ll miss the sweet sense of familiarity as I walk into first period class each morning at the sight of S- and Su- hunched together over their desk, arguing about their vastly different views on music. Or R- and G-‘s notoriety for tardiness and sauntering into class well into the hour, often disrupting an ongoing lecture as they slump into their seats. The endless teasing, affectionate and good-natured, tugs my lips into a smile, even now I’m tired and over-due for bed. My class was probably best known for its spontaneous outburst into song when T- and G- became uncomfortable with the infrequent, long stretches of much needed silence. Maybe the group of very sociable students helped us build a tight bond as a class and fostered a sense of family, or maybe it was the fact that we all started off the year as mere acquaintances, and were pulled into befriending our classmates. Our baffled agreement at the unnecessary difficulty of our biology final exam last week only served to strengthen this connection, knowing we’d lived through the same hardships and fought the same battles. These moments shared between us helped make my freshman year both socially and educationally successful, and makes me grateful for sticking through with my class until the end of the year, no matter how frustrated I sometimes became.
|From Adriana Baking|
Now, I’m on summer vacation. As much as I look forward to churning ice cream at whatever time suits me now that I’m not at school, I’ve lived through enough transitions from school life to summer vacation to know that my mind will take time to part with the habits that have become implanted in me as a part of school. Around seven o’clock each morning my subconscious will continue to respond to the nagging suspicion that it is time for school, turning every fleeting moment of sleep more precious behind closed lids with the knowledge that it will soon be gone. I know it will be weeks before the habit of jotting down my class section after writing my name wears off, just as I won’t associate the title of high school sophomore with me until the first month of tenth grade has passed. It will take a summer to break into the next school year.
My emotions are currently in turmoil on the battlegrounds of my heart. Nostalgia is in heated combat against excitement for the future, and their brawl is leaving me in emotional confusion. I’m waiting for salvation to come in the form of clarity, but I know it won’t arrive until I’m well into summer vacation, too absorbed in the present to dwell on the past or fret about the future. Only then will both of my emotional opponents be put at bay.
|From Adriana Cooking|
I always find myself in awe towards the end of each year by how quickly a year can pass yet how much can be learned and discovered about the world and oneself in that same period of time. I think of myself back at the beginning of this year, so unsure of where I stood. My friends’ confidence in what they wanted to study later on developed in me a growing sense of urgency to find my calling, and I couldn’t suppress it. I tried to imagine myself in various fields, but I couldn’t picture myself in as an adult just yet, or even as a college student. Towards the middle of the year, I ruled out science and math, being unable to relate to them and finding them too detached from human emotions. Now, there’s no doubt about it – writing has become second nature to me. The flame of passion that couldn’t kindle itself within my heart at the thought of uncreative work springs to life when I put on paper the words that lurk in my mind.
My high school year has been a collection of tightly coiled nerves calmed by slathers of music with cool notes of citrus, and of sweet, tender moments cultivated by friendships kneaded until pliable and familiar. In a metaphorical sense, it’s been a little like this coffeecake.
|From Adriana Cooking|
Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling
(From Baking Illustrated, via The Curvy Carrot)
Serves 8-10 (makes 2 coffeecakes, you can half the ingredients if you only want one).
For the coffeecake dough:
2 envelopes instant yeast (about 4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 warm water (about 110 degrees)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and softened but still cool
For the sweet cheese filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the streusel topping:
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
For the icing:
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 and 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the egg wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon heavy cream
1. For the dough: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer; stir to dissolve.
2. Add the sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla; attach the paddle and mix at the lowest speed until well combined.
3. Add 3 and 1/4 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing at low speed until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute.
4. Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter pieces 1 at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds after each addition (total mixing time should be about 5 minutes.)
5. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and add the remaining 1 cup flour; knead at medium-low speed until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes longer.
6. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough tightens up slightly, about 2 minutes longer.
7. Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
8. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours.
9. Press down the dough, replace the plastic and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 or up to 24 hours (overnight). If you are in a rush, you can spread the dough about 1 inch thick on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours.
10. For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer at high speed until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes.
11. Add the lemon zest, egg and vanilla.
12. Reduce the speed to medium and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once, until incorporated, about 1 minute.
13. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and chill thoroughly before using.
14. For the streusel: Mix the brown sugar and granulated sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.
15. Add the butter and toss to coat.
16. Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture between your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly.
17. Chill thoroughly before using.
18. For the icing: Whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth.
19. When you are ready to shape the coffeecake, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half.
20. Shape the dough into a log about 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.
21. Roll the dough evenly into a 40-inch rope about 1 inch in diameter.
22. With your fingers together, gently press the log to flatten slightly into a 1 and 1/2-inch-wide strip.
23. Using both hands, twist the rope.
24. Loosely coil the rope in a spiral pattern, leaving a 1/4-inch space between the coils.
25. Tuck the end under and pinch to secure.
26. Place the coil on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.
27. Proof until slightly puffed, 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. See step #31 if you are going to make this now, so you can get the oven pre-heated while you do the next steps.
28. For the egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk the egg and heavy cream together.
29. Brush with the egg wash and place the filling over the center of the top, leaving a 1 and 1/2-inch border around the perimeter.
30. Sprinkle the top with streusel.
31. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
32. Working with and baking one coffeecake at a time, bake until deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
33. Slide the parchment with the coffeecake onto a wire rack and cool at least 20 minutes.
34. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cake and serve.