Valentine's Day! Do you have plans? Or anti-plans? I think my Valentine's Day will be quite chill since Andrew will be on nights around then, but I love celebrating this holiday with my gals anyways. This year a few of us are going to a tapas restaurant and drinking sangria. I've already bought the best cheap throwback Valentine's Day cards for them that I almost can't keep a secret because they're honestly so great. Other than that I just hope I can sneak in some baking, maybe something dark and chocolatey for Andrew when he gets home the next morning. But at the same time, breakfast-y? It's a brainstorm in progress, what can I say.
But because I have a little bit of Andrew-related sappiness coming up in the next couple posts, let's shift focus and talk about lady friends instead. I think in nearly every stage of my life I've been lucky to have a real tight group of ladies to get me through it - the awkward pre-teen years, the painfully dorky high school times, the formative years of college. The craziness of medical school. And now, in the throes of residency. I have been really lucky to have inspiring ladies with me, next to me, making me be my best. My mind races back to times where I've called them crying, or shown up at their doorstep crying - geez you guys must just think I'm all waterworks over here. But my mind also goes back to the times they've celebrated with me, laughed with me over stupid things. Sitting on a couch doing nothing but in the most perfect sense. Sharing late night cheesy sticks after a late night of drinking (college Erica), sharing Velvet Taco after a semi-late night of 2 drinks (current Erica). Okay... 1 drink.
See the truth is, I sometimes get worried about friendship. I tend to overthink it, get highly sensitive about things that don't go exactly how I predicted. My natural tendency towards extroversion makes it easy to make fast friendships, but my chronic overthinking makes it hard to develop deeper ones. So I think back now to these friendships and feel even more grateful. Thankful for these girlfriends who leave me forty-something text messages to read after being ten minutes away from my phone. These girlfriends who let me bitch about work when I need to vent. The ladies who say the things every day that make me laugh out loud. Because even when I fall into my moods and retreat a little from the world, they welcome me back when I'm ready to come back. In fact, maybe even help me get out of the funk.
So thank you, my sweet galentines. You are all beautiful, inspirational, strong women who I admire and love.
In the spirit of Valentine's Day, these buns really play up the floral aspects with all their ground cardamom glory and rose petals. They are soft and squishy thanks to Molly Yeh's genius challah bread, and channel somewhat Middle Eastern flavors with the tahini and pistachios. The nuts give it a nice texture too and overall you have a nutty, floral bun perfect for the upcoming holiday. They are ideal for sharing in the morning over a cup of coffee, with your loved one or your bestie.
Happy almost-Valentine's Day!
Challah buns with tahini pistachio swirl, challah dough from Molly On the Range
Ingredients for the challah dough
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
For the rest of the buns
- 3/4 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup pistachios, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Egg wash (1 egg + splash of water)
- Turbinado sugar, for topping
- In a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and give it a stir. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy on top.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, and honey
- When the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture followed immediately by the egg mixture and stir using the paddle attachment of your mixer. Once combined, switch to a dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky (7-10 minutes on medium-high speed).
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it sit until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, pistachios, 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar, ground cardamom, and salt.
- Take your dough and gently punch out the air, then turn out onto a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll into a large rectangle (mine measured about 18 inches by 14 inches). Spread the tahini using an offset spatula to cover the rectangle, leaving about 1/2 inch border around the edges. Sprinkle on the sugar and pistachio mixture until evenly covered.
- Similar to rolling up cinnamon rolls, roll up your dough so that it forms into a log. Pinch down the seams, then cut into 12 even-sized rolls.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place each roll into the tin, cut side down so that the swirl shows on the top. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area for another 30 minutes.
- Once the second rise is finished, brush the tops of the buns with your egg wash and sprinkle some turbinado sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before removing from the muffin pan. Let cool on a cooling rack for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- If you want it a bit more sweet, add a simple glaze of powdered sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom thinned out with some milk, until it reaches a pour-able glaze consistency. Share with a loved one.