Tender cheese-filled buns

Tender cheese-filled bun

Tender cheese-filled bun

I love the word “soul.” I like the sound of it, it’s a pretty word, a soul-full word. I love all of its different meanings, and the fact that none of them can be precisely pinned down. They’re all a little vague and shifty, but in a beautiful way that makes you want to think about them more, and try to see through the mist. Of course I looked it up in the OED, and it has more meanings than I ever knew, and they all sound like poetry to me. “The condition or attribute of life in humans or animals; animate existence; The principle of intelligence, thought, or action in a person (or occas. an animal); The seat of a person’s emotions, feelings, or thoughts; the moral or emotional part of a person’s nature; the central or inmost part of a person’s being; Strength of character; strongly developed intellectual, moral, or aesthetic qualities; spiritual or emotional power or intensity; (also) deep feeling, sensitivity.” Þri þinges þet byeþ ine þe zaule, beþenchinge, onderstondynge, and wyl! I like to think about soul as some part of you that you own, some essence of your creativity and your intelligence and your honesty and your vision that’s yours alone and can’t be taken away. Some spark that keeps you alive and lively, despite the often soul-crushing realities of life that we all face. A fire within us, that warms us and lights our way and shines through the dullness and the man-made ugliness.

    So they build their world in great confusion
    To force on us the devil’s illusion.
    But the stone that the builder refuse
    Shall be the head cornerstone,
    And no matter what game they play,
    Eh, we got something they could never take away;
    We got something they could never take away:
    And it’s the fire, it’s the fire
    That’s burning down everything:

And, of course, this is the season of all souls, of tiny spirit fires in jack-o-lanterns, of ghostly souls all around us keeping us company in the increasing cold and lengthening darkness. So this week’s Sunday interactive playlist is a little subjective. It’s songs that seem soulful to you. Not specifically-labeled “soul music,” although that’s more than welcome, but songs in which a person seems to be singing from their soul, or songs that ravish your soul. “Now is his soule rauisht, is it not strange that sheepes guts should hale soules out of mens bodies?” So add it to the list yourself, or leave a comment and I’ll try to remember to add it through the week.

These aren’t exactly soul-cakes, of course, but they’re very good! They’re a brioche-type of dough, tender and flaky, with a filling of cheese. I used goat cheese and sharp cheddar, but you can use whatever cheese you like. I didn’t use too much cheese, just a tablespoonful or two, so they don’t have a gooey center, the cheese kind of bakes into the bread in a pleasing way. Of course you could always use more cheese if you want a molten center. A big lump of mozzarella might be fun!

Here’s a link to the collaborative playlist.

2 t yeast
1 t sugar
1/2 cup warm water

4 T butter
1/2 cup warm milk
3 eggs
5 cups (+/-) flour
2 T sugar
1 t salt

1 egg, beaten
coarse sea salt

about 1 1/2 cups mixed cheese (I used 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese and the rest grated sharp cheddar)

olive oil for the bowl

Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large bowl. Leave in a warm place 15 minutes to half an hour to get frothy.

In a small saucepan heat the milk with the butter until the milk is just warm and the butter just melted. Add this to the flour and stir it in as well as possible, then add the eggs.

Add the flour, sugar and salt. When you can no longer stir, get your hands in there and pull everything together. You should have a soft workable dough. Add a bit of water or flour, if necessary, to get the right consistency. Knead for about seven minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, and drop the dough in, rolling it around to coat each side. Cover with a damp towel and leave in a warm place to double in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch/fold down, and leave for about another 45 minutes. Punch/fold down again and break into 12 pieces. If you’re going to use a muffin pan, lightly oil it. Spread each piece of dough out on the counter to be about 1/2 inch thick, and about 5 inches across. Place a big spoonful of cheese in the center, and then gently roll up two sides and seal the middle, and then tuck up the ends to make a little ball. Place each ball seam-side-down in your muffin pan or on a tray. Brush the top of each with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt.

Leave to set for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450. Place your loaves in the oven and bake until golden and crusty and hollow-sounding when tapped, about 20 to 25 minutes.


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