If you've ever opened a King Arthur Flour catalog and wondered, "Who's buying all this stuff?", I have your answer. It's me.
I special ordered an Irish brown flour when I wanted to make an authentic bread for St. Patrick's Day. (Regrets? None. This bread is awesome). I have spring form pans in endless sizes and shapes, as well as three types of vanilla extract (Madagascar Bourbon, Mexican, and Tahitian.)
I just barely stopped myself from purchasing a shortbread pan that turns out cookies stamped with farm animals, but I couldn't stop myself from buying pearl sugar. Known as Pärlsocker in Sweden or Raesokeri in Finnish—Helsinki is where I first reveled in the glories of Scandinavian pastries—it's a refined white sugar that won't melt in the oven. I think it makes a beautiful topping, though I'll admit it also kind of makes everything look like a pretzel.
When used with a heavy hand, it also adds a crunchy texture to otherwise texturally plain pastries. That's why I especially like it on brioche buns, which, while deliciously buttery and sort of glorious in their plainness, can use a boost every once in a while. These are soft and sweet on the bottom and crunchy on the top. I like splitting my brioche in half, eating the bottom spread with jam, and the top all on its sweet, pearly own.