Chrysanthemums for Comfort and Joy (BBB November 2015)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Chrysanthemum Bread, based on a Georgian (or is it Armenian??) recipe; refusal to make a meat filling and using chiles, nuts and seeds instead; “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance

BBB Chrysanthemum Bread Bread Baking Babes (BBB) November 2015: Chrysanthemum Bread

The chrysanthemum has many meanings for people around the world. Some say that this beautiful flower symbolizes long life, joy, optimism and fidelity. In China, it is believed to bring compassion, cheerfulness, optimism, abundance and wealth. It is the national flower of Japan and every September, it is featured in the annual “Festival of Happiness” there. It is also the “November” birth flower.

In the language of flowers for many, to give a Chrysanthemum to someone says that someone is “a wonderful friend” (red Chrysanthemums are for love; white Chrysanthemums are for truth). Ancient Asian lore says that one Chrysanthemum petal placed at the bottom of a wine glass will encourage a long and healthy life.

Chrysanthemums_(Monet) wp-image-2346 But in Italy, chrysanthemums symbolize sadness and sorrow. Puccini composed the beautiful piece Crisantemi for string quartet in 1890, with the dedication “Alla memoria di Amedeo di Savoia Duca d’Aosta”. I cannot pretend, even for a moment, that this last meaning for chrysanthemums has not been foremost in my mind after what happened in Paris, this past Friday 13th. My heart goes out to all who have been affected. Which means to everyone in the world, doesn’t it?

And yet, when we were bicycling to the market on Saturday, we couldn’t help noticing all the chrysanthemums flowering bravely and profusely in peoples’ gardens, in spite of the chill in the air and threats of frost.

Comme des feux arrachés par un grand coloriste à l’instabilité de l’atmosphère et du soleil, afin qu’ils vinssent orner une demeure humaine, ils m’invitaient, ces chrysanthèmes, et malgré toute ma tristesse, à goûter avidement pendant cette heure du thé les plaisirs si courts de novembre dont ils faisaient flamber près de moi la splendeur intime et mystérieuse.
-Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu [In Search of Lost Time], Vol 1

Yes, it really is fitting to have Chrysanthemums this month. So let us mourn. But then, let us dance. Because if we stop dancing, the idiots will have won.

Here’s what I did to make Chrysanthemum Bread:

BBB Chrysanthemum Bread diary:

1 October 2015, 11:04 Wow!! Lien showed us her Chrysanthemum Bread. It is beautiful! And what a good idea to go for a vegetarian filling. I think we’ll do that too.

I did a quick google search to find non-meat fillings and saw that one person simply uses garlic butter. Another used green onions and cream cheese. And I found a number of likely looking fillings for a Georgian flat bread called “Khachapuri” here: | baking

Georgians are very fond of the herb tarragon, which they call tarkhuna (Georgian: ტარხუნა). It used to flavor meat stews, grilled trout, salads and many other dishes. In this recipe we show how to make a khachapuri flavored with tarragon. Khachapuri (Georgian: ხაჭაპური) is justifiably considered to be one of Georgia’s national dishes and is popular in restaurants and in homes. […] Ingredients for the filling: 800 grams of Imeretian cheese (not too salty) (mozzarella can be substituted for Imeretian cheese), 200 grams of tarragon, 1 egg, and 50 grams of butter.
– Georgian Recipes, Khachapuri with Tarragon
Ingredients for the filling (4 servings): 400 grams of beetroot leaves, 600 grams Ossetian or Imeretian cheese (Mozzarella and Feta cheese can be used) and salt.
– Georgian Recipes, Chakhragina -Ossetian Khachapuri

9 November 2015, 19:41 We talked about what filling we should make (of course I completely forgot that I had even seen anything about using beetgreens or green onions or tarragon…) and T suggested some sort of pesto using pepitas. We waffled about using cheese at all.

13 November 2015, 08:41 I’m just about to head into the kitchen to make the dough. I know I could have asked but there wasn’t time; I had to look at the Russian site (thank goodness for Google Translate) to find out if the 125 was gm or ml for the kefir. (It turns out it was ml. But even if it were gm, for kefir and yoghurt, the values are almost the same. The gm equivalent for 125ml is around 123gm….)

I was planning on substituting the egg but in opening the discussion about it (I said, “I think I’m going to leave out the egg”), T said, “Use the egg!! Use the egg!! I want fluffy bread!”

So. I’m using the egg….

But here’s what I WAS going to use instead:

[substitute for] 1 egg:
   »61 gm (4 Tbsp) plain yoghurt
   »14 gm (2 Tbsp) ground flaxseed
   »1/8 tsp (0.6 gm) baking powder
   »15 gm (1 Tbsp) water
-me, Water Sports (BBB March 2014)

Which means I’ll have to substitute some of the flour with ground flaxseed now. {Wheeee!}

Hmmm, I wonder how much filling (in volume) I need to make. I’m planning to transgress majorly on the filling – and use no meat at all – maybe no cheese either….

Eeeek!! I just noticed the date. It’s Friday the 13th! OH OH!! ;-)

09:45 Well, that was fun. Thinking about last month’s adventure with Tangzhong bread, I poured boiling water into the malted wheat and 100 gm of the all-purpose flour to make a roux. I really am rotten at volumes! I must admit that I thought I’d have a sort of soupy mixture. No no no. Not even close…. It was quite crumbly and dry.

As usual, to replace “strong flour”, I used Susan’s (Wild Yeast) formula: [Replace] the high-gluten flour […] with a mixture of 97% [all-purpose] flour and 3% vital wheat gluten [to give the result that is] virtually indistinguishable from the original.
-Susan, Wild Yeast

Of course, the egg was cold when I started. Why would I think to get it out in advance to bring it up to room temperature. [hahahahahahahahahaha] …please excuse my hysteria; now that it’s November, the kitchen is around 15C. So. I suppose that can still be called “room temperature”. After all, the kitchen is a room.

Still, I decided to put the uncracked egg into a bowl of hot water and add it to the big bowl last. The egg was beautifully warm when I rapped the shell on the board before putting the egg into a little bowl to whisk it first. And it was still beautifully warm as possibly a quarter of the white oozed out onto the board. Using my index finger to shovel the white into the little bowl, I wondered if it really mattered.

I started stirring everything with the wooden spoon and congratulated myself for insisting on adding that little bit of eggwhite. At first, it seemed QUITE dry and crumbly. But suddenly, all that yoghurt and olive oil met with the dry ingredients and it turned into a lovely dough. Kneading it on the unfloured board was easy and in about 5 minutes, I had a lovely smooth dough. I put it into the unwashed mixing bowl (shhhhhhh!! don’t tell the others that I didn’t wash the bowl!), covered it and it is now luxuriating in the oven with only the light turned on. I hope it’s rising. :lalala:

Oh oh! I forgot to add the powdered milk. But. With all that yoghurt, it really doesn’t matter, does it? :-)

17:12 I have a confession to make. I didn’t make the filling. I had to go out for the afternoon and my meeting took longer than I thought. But. I had never planned to make the filling anyway. T made it at the same time as he made lentil soup for dinner tonight.

rcb BBB Russian Chrysanthemum Bread 17:36 Wow, shaping is insanely easy!! Granted, I wasn’t doing it alone. The two of us worked together. I rolled out small rounds (yes, yes, I know; I was supposed to cut out the rounds with a biscuit cutter… forget that… it’s WAY easier just to form pieces of dough into balls, press them down with the flat of the hand and then roll them out into discs. T put the filling in, folded the discs in half and then in half again, pinched each one shut at the corners and we arranged them in the small spring form pan. Because I didn’t exactly measure the size of each dough ball, there was only room for two rows of petals.

BBB Chrysanthemum bread Naturally, there was a lot of dough and filling left over so we decided to make four larger discs to use up the filling. As we were discussing the sizes, T suddenly suggested adding some chopped raisins to the leftover filling. Great idea!!

And of course, wouldn’t you know it? We ran out of filling. So we made two plain rolls covered with sesame seeds.

18:08 As I was cleaning up, T came in to tell me the news from Paris. WHAT is happening to our world?! My heart goes out to all of us, but especially those who are directly suffering from the drastic actions of those crazed fanatics.

19:03 I’m very relieved to see that the bread looks beautiful! I’ve turned the oven on….

19:17 Just before putting the bread in the oven, I brushed it with a little 2% milk. I can never understand why people (who don’t have chickens in their backyard and a seemingly endless supply of eggs) would waste most of an egg to make a protein wash for baking. I like shiny bread too but my skinflinty nature just can’t imagine using up an egg for this purpose!

19:45 Interesting!! The free-form bread is done but the one in the spring form pan is still quite blond and spongey. I took it out of the pan and put it directly on the oven rack to continue baking while we got our dinner together.

20:05 The spring-form Chrysanthemum was finally done! It looks stunningly beautiful!

BBB Chrysanthemum Bread

We served the large flower with our dinner of lentil/sausage soup (spectacular!!) and faux-Caesar salad with lots of croutons. The sunflower/pepita/ancho filling in the bread was a little overpowering for the soup – for me anyway – and surprisingly the sunflower seeds and pepitas slightly overshadowed the chilis (next time, I would add more chilis) But on its own, it was quite wonderful. And what was really cool is that the somewhat inferior Italian Negroamaro wine we had with dinner was vastly improved when paired with the bread. The wine suddenly sang, its fruity notes suddenly revealed. How cool is that?

I must say that I particularly like this method of shaping the bread! Next time I make cinnamon rolls, I think this may be how I’ll shape them!

Thank you for a wonderful new (for me) bread, Lien!

Here is the BBB November 2015 Chrysanthemum Bread recipe. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Chrysanthemum Bread
adapted from the Pasaka’s (Recipes for a Very Busy Mom) recipe for (Chrysanthemum “Pasties”)


  • 500 g strong flour ¹
       » 15g vital wheat gluten
       » 10g malted rye berries, ground
       » 25g flaxseed, ground
       » 50g 100% whole wheat flour
       » 400g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 125g milk water ²
       » 11g milk powder (ooops!! I forgot…) ³
       » 100g water, boiling
       » 25g water, body temperature
  • 5g active dry yeast (BBB recipe calls for 7g instant)
  • 125g plain yoghurt (BBB recipe calls for 125ml kefir or yoghurt)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (omitted)
  • 80g olive oil (BBB recipe calls for 90 ml)
  • 1 egg
  • 6g kosher salt (1 tsp fine table salt) 4

Filling 5

  • 2 ancho chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 pasilla chile, seeded and roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • onion, chopped finely
  • pepitas and sunflower seeds, coarsely chopped
  • Thompson raisins, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • vegetable stock powder (or chicken stock powder, or salt)
  • pepper


  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 egg yolk (omitted)
  1. Mixing the dough: In the morning of the day you will be making the bread, put malted rye and some of the all-purpose flour in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon.
  2. Put the rest of the dry ingredients (except the salt) on top. Add yoghurt, beaten egg and oil. Set aside for a moment.
  3. Pour body temperature water (check it against the inside of your wrist: if it feels just warm or like nothing at all, it’s fine) into a small bowl. Whisk in yeast to dissolve it.
  4. Pour the yeasted water onto one side of the ingredients in the large bowl. Add the salt to the other side. Using a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix the ingredients into a rough dough. Set aside for about 10 minutes then knead the dough in the bowl, by reaching down the sides of the bowl to the bottom and pulling the dough to the top. If that doesn’t seem to be working, put the dough onto and unfloured board and knead for about 5 minutes until it’s smooth and silky feeling. Put the kneaded dough back into the mixing bowl (shhhh!! Don’t tell anyone that you didn’t wash the bowl first!) Remember that, especially because there is so much oil in the dough, there is not even remotely any reason to grease the bowl. Cover it with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light turned on to rise until it has doubled.
  5. Making the filling: Leave the house to go to a meeting and cajole someone else to prepare the filling. Ask afterwards what he did and don’t be surprised at all that there aren’t really any amounts for the ingredients because intuitive cooks don’t require amounts and simply taste and add things as needed…. :stomp:
       » Over medium heat, fry the onion until it is transluscent. Throw in the chopped chiles, soup stock powder, pepitas and sunflower seeds. Grind in some pepper. Set aside to cool.
  6. Shaping: Line a small spring-form pan with parchment paper. Notice a few days later that you were supposed to use a lightly greased pie plate. Realize once again that you really haven’t learned how to read.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Cut it in half and cover one half to shape later. Cut off a small piece of dough and form it into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a disc. Spoon a little filling into the center, fold the disc in half. Fold it in half again and pinch the points together. Stand it on its edge with the filling side up. Prop it up against the edge of the spring-form pang, pointy side facing inwards. Repeat and place each next petal beside the one before. Keep going in concentric circles until there is no more space. Once the flower is finished, cover the pan with a shower-cap-like plastic hat and put it in the oven with only the light turned on to rise until it has doubled.
       » Pretend that you didn’t even notice the actual shaping instructions. Realize that for the final section about the center of the flower, you don’t even have to pretend; you didn’t even get that far….
    Work with about 1/3 of the dough at the time. Roll it out to a thickness of about 3 mm, cover with lightly greased plastic foil and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. This way the dough will be relaxed and won’t shrink when cutting the rounds. Cut out rounds with a glass or cookie cutter. Place 1 TBsp of filling on each round, spread it out, leaving about ½ cm free around the border and sprinkle with some cheese. Fold the circle in half, and fold the two point together. It now looks like a petal. Place in the pie dish, starting around the border with the point of the petal facing to the center. Repeat until there is just a little space left in the middle. Make three half circles, fill and place them in a line 1/3 overlapping and roll them up (flat side down) and place this in the middle. Cover with lightly greased plastic foil and leave to rest and rise for about 45 minutes.
    -BBB Chrysanthemum Bread recipe
  8. Notice that you still have tons of filling but that you’re getting tired of rolling out little discs. Cut the other half of the dough into 6 pieces. Form each one into a ball. Use a rolling pin to roll out one of the balls into a large disc. Put some filling in the disc and fold as above to make a really large petal. Realize that you have enough filling for 3 more discs. Put the petals together to form a flower-like object and place it on a parchment papered cookie sheet. With the remaining two balls of dough, wet the top of each one and slather it with sesame seeds. Place them on the cookie sheet and flatten them with your palms. Cover with a clean tea towel and put into the oven with only the light turned on to rise until they have doubled.
  9. baking: Preheat the oven to 350F. Pour milk into a little bowl and using a pastry brush, liberally cover the flowers with milk.
  10. Bake on the top rack of the oven (to prevent the bread from burning on the bottom) for about 25 minutes. Remove the sesame buns to cool on a footed wire rack, but turn the oven down to 325F and continue cooking the other breads for about 10 minutes until they are golden. If the spring-form pan bread isn’t close to being done after 10 minutes, remove it from the pan and allow it to bake on the cookie sheet until it sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom and is nicely golden on top.
  11. Put the baked bread onto a footed wire rack to cool completely. Remember, it’s are still baking inside! (Even if you’ve ignored the instructions about using hot water from the tap, please do not ignore this step.) 65


1.) Flour The BBB recipe simply calls for bread flour. To mimic bread flour (we can’t easily get hold of unbleached bread flour anymore), I use 97% unbleached all-purpose flour and 3% vital wheat gluten (aka “high gluten flour”, usually available at health food stores and the Bulk Barn). But I just can’t bring myself to make anything with just white flour so I substituted some of the unbleached all-purpose with whole wheat flour and ground flax seeds. And ever since I discovered the wonders of malted grains in bread, I cannot stop using them. So I added some malted rye….

2.) Water You already know, don’t you? You’re skimming right past this part… But I don’t care; I’ll say it anyway: please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave, if you have one. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cool, it’s too cool; if it feels like nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

3.) Milk powder The BBB recipe calls for “lukewarm milk”. I’m too lazy to heat milk to lukewarm so was planning to use powdered milk. But I forgot to get the powdered milk out. It really didn’t seem to matter though.

4.) Salt The BBB recipe calls for “1 tsp salt”. Because we use Kosher salt (much bigger grain), we always weigh salt…. According the the USDA website, 1 tsp fine table salt = 6 g. (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?.)

5.) Filling Traditionally, it seems that Chrysanthemum bread is made with a meat and cheese filling. The BBB recipe calls for a meatless filling but does add cheese. We decided to add neither meat nor cheese. Because that’s how we are: contrary. :stomp: :stomp:

6.) But I LIKE warm rolls just out of the oven!! N.B. Of course you will want to serve warm rolls. Reheat them after they have cooled completely. (They are still baking when first out of the oven!) To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

Yesterday, I took the smaller Chrysanthemum bread to serve at a potluck dinner after a meeting with 4 of my colleagues. I brought squash/ginger soup as well. The bread was fabulous with the squash soup and everyone loved the filling in the bread. (Also on the table were dolmades, olives, hummus, artichoke/asiago/spinach dip, crackers, raspberries and blueberries. Dinner was fabulous!)

I asked if they could taste the chiles. The answer: “No. But are there raisins?” Ha! How interesting! There were no raisins at all in the bread that I took to the potluck dinner. But we’ve often noticed that both anchos and pasillas have raisin-like qualities.

Everyone loved the bread and kept moaning happily whenever they broke off a piece, saying to thank T for a great filling. And of course, thanks to Lien for the bread recipe itself!

Ooops!! We forgot to take any photos of the crumb to show off the amazing looking filling. Ha. That just means you’ll have to make it yourself to find out how spectacular it is!

BBB Chrysanthemum Bread

Bread Baking Babes
BBB November 2015

Lien is our host for November 2015’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

[I]t’s time for the November recipe: We’re making a savory recipe this
time. A savory filled bread with your own choice of filling. It originates
in Georgia (Russia) and it’s a stunning looking loaf if done right.

We know you’ll want to make Chrysanthemum Bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 November 2015. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may easily be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ November bread.

As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES! (You can tell by the panties….)



This entry was posted in BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes on by . BBB Chrysanthemum Bread

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10 responses to “Chrysanthemums for Comfort and Joy (BBB November 2015)

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Yes, it was nice to have help shaping all those petals.

      Ha. So you think I’m the only rebel in our little group? (Although… I guess I may be the most rebellious….)

      The main reason that I rolled out balls of dough rather than cutting circles was that I didn’t want to have to wash the top of a glass.

  1. Lien

    That is an interesting filling, great idea for vegetarians! I was confused about the powdered milk… I forgot that too, but then I realised that was instead of the milk… glad I didn’t misread the recipe (as KOTM), how stupid would that look hahaha.
    wonderful bread Elizabeth!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Ha! How stupid do I look that I had to look up KOTM and wonder why you were calling yourself King (Koningin?) of the Mountain. Duh.

      Thank you, Lien. It WAS wonderful bread.

  2. Elle Lachman

    Your posts are a thing of beauty Elizabeth…who else combines history, music, culture, flowers, humor, originality, compassion, and rebellion is such a charming way. I love that you made small rounds to fill instead of cutting them and your large four-petal bread captures the flower feel while still being a large bread. Wonderful! I’m with you on the egg wash thing. I often just use some milk from the fridge and skip the egg unless I’m making something else that I can add the egg wash to once I’ve glazed the bread.

  3. katiezel

    In France the Chrysanthemum is the flower to honor the dead… the cemeteries are filled with them every Nov. 1.
    Rolling v rolling and then cutting? Gosh, let me think on that one…..
    Love all of your breads!

  4. tanna jones

    Amazing, I just can’t stop finding fillings for this shape. I think T really must have a wonderful one here. LOVE those giant rolls.
    You & Lien on KOTM … ? So Babe!
    Wonderful write up.

  5. Carola

    Adventurous as always, aren’t you dear Elizabeth? (PS. I admire you!)
    I love your courage and how your recipes always turn out so beautifully and perfect. Wow!

    (Carola of Sweet and That’s it. Couldn’t find a way to log in with my google)


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