I was chatting online with a friend a week or two ago and she started out asking how everything was going--she commented that I'd been sounding kind of "flat" lately. I hadn't thought about it in quite that way, but she's right. I do feel flat, the kind of flat you get when you have way too many things weighing on you. Most of it stems from work, which has been very stressful for most of this year so far. I've been working way more hours than I usually do, which is really starting to wear me out.
I've hit a point where I just feel overwhelmed most of the time. There's so much to do, I don't even know where to start. And everyone wants a piece of me. I'm tired of being the one responsible for everything, to the point where I don't want to be a part of anything. My friend said it sounded like I was in an "oxygen mask" situation--you know, like on an airplane, when they tell you that you need to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. You're not going to be any help to anyone if you don't take care of yourself first. Problem is, I'm bad at doing that. I'm bad at admitting that I need help, and bad at asking for it. But I'm at the point where all the stress is affecting me physically, and I'm forced to admit that I can't do everything myself.
So what do you do to deal with stress? How do you keep from getting totally overwhelmed? How do you convince yourself to put yourself first once in a while?
Many people might think that I'm crazy to still be baking when I'm complaining that I'm stressed and don't have enough time for everything. But while it does take time, it's actually one of the things that helps. I like the process, and having something concrete to show for it at the end of the day. One thing I did recently was finally spend the King Arthur gift card that my sister Kate sent me for my birthday. One of the things I've been wanting to get is some of their Baker's Cinnamon Filling mix. I've had my eye on a couple of scone recipes that use it, and today I was finally able to make the Cinnamon Schmear Scones.
Making these scones isn't that different from other recipes I've made. To start, you prepare the cinnamon filling by adding water to the dry mix. After setting that aside, you mix up the rest of the dry ingredients--flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Butter is cut into the dry ingredients (I rubbed it in with my fingers). Then the wet ingredients are added. The recipe calls for egg, vanilla and half & half. To cut back on the fat a bit, I used part half & half and part whole milk. Once the dough is combined, it's turned out onto a floured surface and patted into a square, and the cinnamon filling is spread on top. To incorporate the filling, I did a couple of letter folds, then patted the dough back out into a big square. I cut 18 scones by cutting 9 squares, then cutting them in half to make smaller triangles.
I skipped the sugar topping since I was planning to add a glaze instead. I baked the scones for 16 minutes. Once the scones were done, I let them rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transferred them to a cooling rack. To make clean-up easier, I put the parchment that the scones were baked on under the rack to catch drips. I made a glaze from some powdered sugar, a big dash of cinnamon, a bit of vanilla and some milk. I drizzled the glaze over the warm scones and waited a few minutes for it to set.
The verdict? Oh, these will definitely be making many more appearances around here! I can see myself keeping the cinnamon filling mix on hand just for these. Though I have to admit, I'm tempted to see what kind of substitute I can come up with if I run out. I think I'll also experiment with some whole wheat flour next time, too. The girls & Jamie were all quite happy with the scones, and the recipe makes plenty, so I can take some to work tomorrow.
If you'd like to try the recipe for yourself, you can find it here on the King Arthur website. A lot of the King Arthur recipes have weights available in addition to the volume measurements, but this one doesn't. So here's what I used:
Cinnamon Schmear Scones
(adapted from King Arthur Flour)
115 grams Baker's Cinnamon Filling mix
30 grams water
380 grams all-purpose flour
70 grams granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
115 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
115 grams whole milk
110 grams half & half
You can find the recipe instructions here.