A couple weeks ago I came across a funny quote on Facebook: Stop trying to make everybody happy. You’re not a jar of Nutella.
It put a smile on my face – I mean, who doesn’t love Nutella?! – but at the same time it got me thinking: how often do we try to do just that? How often do we do everything we can to fulfill the needs and wants of people around us without even considering our own? We want to see those we love happy and want to make their lives easier. That’s love, that’s what spouses, parents, siblings, and friends do, right? But needs are funny. They don’t just go away, they kind of keep regenerating themselves instead. You take care of one, turn around to take a breath, and another three are already waiting for you, tapping foot impatiently. Pretty soon you feel just as a puppet in everyone else’s show, and don’t even have time to realize how miserable you are.
You can’t please everyone, and if you try, it always backfires. If you try to make everybody happy, more often than not nobody is happy at the end. Plus, people pleasing has its flip side: It’s resentment, and it finds its way to the surface one way or another. You can’t manage everyone else’s happiness. You can only manage your own, and in my case, even that not very well sometimes 🙂 There is really only one person you’re able to make happy: yourself.
If it means putting on your hiking boots and spending the day in the mountains, please do so. If it means taking a nice long bath instead of cooking on a Sunday, dive right in. (Nobody ever died because of a lack of cooked Sunday dinner.) In my case it means firing up the oven and baking, even though it’s finally not raining, and the weeds are taking over my yard. There were times when I’d worry what the neighbors might think; these days I think my neighbor the master gardener doesn’t give a hoot about my unkempt yard, because this way her gorgeous garden looks even better. And even if it isn’t so – I say life is too short to worry about other people’s expectations too much!
Figure out what brings sunshine into your life, and go for it. After all, we all have only one shot at this. Do it right.
Sun pastries with Nutella (makes 8 pastries)
- 3 cups (390 g, 13.5 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (100 g, 3.5 oz.) granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon to sweeten the milk
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temp
- ¼ cup (55 g, 2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup (150 ml) whole milk, lukewarm
- 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
+ 4 – 5 tablespoons Nutella
1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons milk for egg wash
- Combine milk with 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast; set aside for 15 minutes to activate the yeast. Place all the other ingredients for the dough into a bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook.
- When the yeast mixture looks foamy, add it to the bowl. On a low speed, knead the dough until it forms a ball (I had to add about 2 tablespoons more flour; it depends on the size of your eggs. If the mixture looks dry, add milk/water, if it’s too moist, add flour, one tablespoon at a time.) When the dough forms a ball, knead it for additional 15 minutes, until it’s smooth, soft, and elastic. Transfer it to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it doubles in volume.
- Prepare two baking sheets and line them with parchment paper.
- On a floured surface, divide the risen dough roughly in half. Cover one half and set it aside for now.
- Roll out the other half into a square about 10 x 10 inches (25 x 25 cm) and 1/6 inch (6mm) thick. With a biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out circles about 3 inches in diameter. Place them onto the baking sheets with plenty of room between them (I did 4 circles per sheet).
- With a sharp knife, make cuts into each circle, as if cutting them into eights, but making sure not to cut all the way to the edges, and stopping about ½ inch (1 cm) from the edge of the circle. Take each resulting tip and turn it outward, forming little sun rays. When you are done, you will have 7 – 8 sun shapes with an empty circle in the middle. Cover them with a towel and set aside.
- Take the remaining half of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle 1/6 inch (6 mm) thick. Spread the dough with 4 – 5 tablespoons Nutella, and beginning from the long side, roll it up jelly roll style, pinching the edges. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 7 – 8 equal pieces, and place each piece into the empty space of your little sun pastries on the baking sheet, pressing down lightly. (It is OK if the Nutella “snails” don’t fill-up the circles completely, they will get bigger during the second rise.) Cover the pastries and let them rise again for about 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 °F (185 °C).
- Brush the pastries with an egg yolk mixed with milk, and bake for 13 – 15 minutes until golden brown.