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The Way to a Happier Life: Currant Bread from DUTCH FEAST

Put down your smoothie bowls and chia seeds, and embrace Dutch breakfasts, sugar and white bread and cheese, and all. 

Currant Bread

In the dead of winter, we turn to cozy things to warm us, sometimes literally. And Emily Wight's new cookbook, Dutch Feast, has plenty of choices to offer in that area, with delicious stews and casseroles. But Wight's chapter about breakfasts is particularly remarkable for her assertion that breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day—but not necessarily for the reasons you might believe. She tells the story of her family's visit to the Dutch region of Friesland to visit her husband's relatives, and how the breakfast table there would be heaped with seven varieties of bread and all kinds of sweet spreads. She writes, "It was, for me, a kind of paradise—the kind of thing the breakfast tables at home didn't offer." 

She continues, "I think I would be a nicer person if I could roll out of bed in the morning and eat pie. For a few weeks, while testing recipes for this book, I did eat an inordinate amount of pie... I was—dare I say?—merry. I was nice before 9:00 am. And I know this evidence is only anecdotal, but its compelling enough that I think we should all put down our smoothie bowls and our chia seeds and embrace Dutch breakfasts, sugar and white bread and cheese and all, because I think that is the way to a happier life. We can do better. We must do better. And while we're all thinking about how, let's just share a few slices of white bread and a jar of Nutella. You make the coffee and I'll set the table. I promise to be nice." 



Makes 1 loaf

Currant bread makes an excellent breakfast, and I recommend serving it toasted with butter and honey or apricot jam and a very strong cup of black tea. If you end up with stale leftovers, this makes fantastic French toast or bread pudding—use immediately or tore in the freezer until you’re ready to live your life right.


1 cup (250 mL) whole milk

pinch saffron or saffron extract (see below)

3 tbsp + 1 tsp honey, divided

1 tsp dry yeast

1 egg + 1 egg yolk, divided

1 large navel orange, zest and juice

3 tbsp neutral oil, such as canola

½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ cups (375 mL) dried currants

3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour 

Book Cover Dutch Feast


In a pot on medium heat, warm milk with crumbled saffron threads to lukewarm, about 100°F (38°C). Remove from heat, and whisk in 3 tbsp honey and yeast. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until yeast is fluffy.

Pour milk into bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly with egg, orange zest and juice, oil, and salt. 

Add currants and flour, and with wet hands knead to form a shaggy dough. Knead for about 8 minutes, or until dough is elastic. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm spot for about 40 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.

Grease a 9 x 5-in (23 x 13-cm) loaf pan. Fit dough into prepared loaf pan. Once again, cover with plastic wrap and kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to rest for about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C).

In a small bowl, mix egg yolk and remainder of honey with 1 tbsp water. Brush mixture over top of risen dough.

Bake for 35–40 minutes, until golden. Let sit in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wait until bread is completely cool before cutting a slice; if you want warm currant bread, reheat it or toast it after it has totally cooled.


Good saffron has a smell a little like sweet pepper, and reminds me a bit of anise, not because of its fragrance but because of the way both are sweet and bitter at the same time. Good saffron is expensive, but you can get a lot of flavor out of not very much of the spice. To get the most mileage out of it, grind a pinch with a mortar and pestle (if you don’t have that, use your thumb and grind into the palm of your other hand) along with a pinch of sugar, then steep in 1/2 cup (250mL) hot water. The result is a saffron extract. Where I call for “a pinch of saffron,” feel free to use about a tablespoon of the extract. This mixture will allow you to use saffron in multiple recipes. Keep in mind that saffron blooms—releases its color and flavor—in water but does not bloom as successfully in fat. Look for saffron in stores that sell Italian or Persian groceries.


About Dutch Feast

A modern take on Dutch cuisine that highlights the ways that simple meals bring joy and comfort.

In the same way that British, Scandinavian, and German food have undergone a renaissance in recent years, Dutch cuisine is going to be the next big thing, according to writer and blogger Emily Wight. Her new cookbook reimagines traditional Dutch cooking, which has always been known for its thriftiness and practicality, with an emphasis on the ways that simple meals bring joy and comfort to the people who share them. 

Influenced by its colonial history, with bold flavours from places like Indonesia and the West Indies, and by its proximity to its European neighbours, Dutch cooking is surprisingly diverse, and is noted for its celebration of the ritual of the meal as much as the meal itself. From gezelligto borrels, and gado gado to uitsmijter, Dutch Feastdelivers unconventional (but familiar) and economical (but indulgent) recipes, and gives you a new excuse to invite everyone over for cold gin and a generous rijsttafel, an elaborate meal featuring a little dish of something for everyone. 

Touching on Dutch history and the back stories of traditional ingredients (from licorice to herring to beer), Emily adds charm and sophistication to a cuisine that is wholesome, accessible, and stubbornly delicious.

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