Lists can be anxiety inducing. For one, they’re never-ending. Just when you’re finally closing in on the last few to dos, you sabotage your success by moving them to the top of a new list. Then there are those to dos that you know you’ll never get to, like putting your photos in albums. Why are you even writing that down? These to dos are destined to be shifted from list to list ad infinitum, so I like to call them lifers.
To compensate for lifers, you have to start cheating. It begins with a few small or insignificant to dos appearing at the bottom of your list: things you know you can knock off in no time flat, things you don’t really need to be reminded to do.
Then you start breaking down big jobs into smaller parts to cross them off individually. “Cleaning the office” becomes “clearing off the desk”, “filing bills” and “organizing pens” or something equally as ridiculous. Before you know it, you’re adding items to the list that you’ve already finished, chasing that completion high. Don’t think you’re fooling anyone.
Last month in Ottawa, I happened upon a list-maker support group of sorts. A few of my friends have sworn off lists in a bid to reduce stress and focus on enjoying the here and now without a constant reminder of what needs to be done in the future. Sounds good, right? I was in.
Then we got back to K.’s place — she’s the founder of Listaholics Anonymous, as I like to call it — and made these Ducat Cakes. She’d been eyeing this recipe for a while. No sooner had we licked the final sticky bits of frosting from our fingertips than K. emerged from upstairs, list and pen in hand.
It seems that Ducat Cakes were a to do and I’d been the unwitting accomplice to a listaholic relapse. The worst part is: I think it was worth it.
Update: The Casual Baker is 5 weeks, 5 days list-free and counting.
2 heaping tablespoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
4 cups flour
3 egg yolks
Mix the yeast, sugar and salt thoroughly, until liquid.
Heat the butter, milk and sugar until warm. Add the yeast and wait until it begins to activate (about 10 minutes). Add the egg yolks and beat lightly until smooth.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and work into a dough. Cover dough and leave it in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
Lightly grease a cast-iron frying pan, glass baking pan or casserole dish. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to the thickness of a finger. Cut out small circles using a glass or cookie cutter dipped in flour. Place the cut-outs side by side in the prepared dish. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a bit of melted butter on top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. (We found that our Ducat Cakes browned up very quickly, so we reduced the heat and watched them closely to avoid burning.)
Frost the warm Ducat Cakes with a thick icing made of icing sugar and milk. Toss a handful of chocolate chips on top and enjoy!
Notes: I can’t be sure of the authenticity of our Ducat Cakes as some aspects of the recipe seemed to be lost in translation. We ended up making things up as we went along. The recipe suggested serving these cold, but we nixed that idea early on.
Source: Adapted from Best Czech Recipes by Harald Salfellner.