irish soda bread

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Tis the season for corned beef and cabbage, for green beer and green socks, and for soda bread.

Irish soda bread, to be exact.

For those of you who aren’t aware – Irish soda bread is a yeast-free bread, sometimes sweet and sometimes not, that is leavened with baking soda (hence the “soda” bread) and usually filled with things like raisins and caraway.  It has a bit of a reputation for being dense, dry, and bland.

I know what you’re thinking, “MY GOD THAT SOUNDS DELICIOUS! WHERE CAN I GET SOME!?”

Clearly nostalgia is playing a role in my desire to stuff my face with biscuit-like slices of dense flavorless bread.  However, since I was going to have a whole loaf of the stuff laying around, I wanted to make it palatable enough for FH to enjoy as well. Especially after he said that it sounded “absolutely awful”… and I really couldn’t argue with him on that topic.

Though soda bread is a popular Irish recipe, it’s not necessarily the most beloved St. Patty’s Day food on the planet.

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So,  I decided to get to work on making an improved version of the traditional Irish soda bread. Our typical soda bread which is basically flour, butter, a bit of sugar, baking soda, caraway seeds, and raisins… got a bit of an overhaul.

Ok, maybe a lot of an overhaul.

I added buttermilk and egg to improve the texture, upped the sugar to increase the sweetness (read: flavor), nixed the caraway (but then felt guilty and added a pinch of cardamom), and replaced the rage-inducing raisins with dried cherries and currants. I tried really hard to think of a green dried fruit, and debated dying some golden raisins green (you know, for St. Patty’s Day!) but golden raisins are still raisins and raisins have NO PLACE in my baked goods. Or my life.

Ever.

And although currants are very similar to raisins, I think it’s because they are super small and have a different flavor that they make me less angry. And dried cherries are delicious. Really you could use any fruit you like – I think dried apricots would go well in here, too (plus, I could possibly get them to a passable shade of green, maybe).

The result? Success! Big success.

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Like FH-impressing success. (Although, I’ve been proving him wrong a lot lately)

The resulting bread had a much more tender crumb than your average soda bread with more flavor and a nice well-developed crust on the exterior. So even if you have tried (and disliked) soda bread in the past, give this one a try and I think you might change your mind.

irish soda bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 10-inch round loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cardamom
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup mix-ins (dried fruit of your choice)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients together.
  3. Add the butter and cut into the dough or incorporate with paddle attachment.
  4. Add the currants and stir to combine.
  5. Add the liquid ingredients (buttermilk, egg, and orange juice) and mix just until the mixture is moistened.
  6. Turn out onto lightly-floured surface and knead gently for a few turns (about 5 to 10 turns) until the dough forms a cohesive ball.
  7. Transfer dough ball to parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into 1-inch thick disk. Cut an "x" into the top of the dough, about 1/4-inch deep.
  8. Bake 35-45 minutes until exterior is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

I mixed this in my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment, but you could easily use a large bowl and wooden spoon.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/04/irish-soda-bread/

 soda bread pin

cranberry orange pull apart bread

 

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Yes, I KNOW that we JUST had pull-apart bread.  But, you see, since my recipe make two loaves, and it’s delicious, and… you can never have too much of a good thing.

Or something. I think that’s how it goes, right?

I’ve been trying out this whole “orange-cranberry” thing that everyone’s been talking about… and apparently everyone in the whole world loves but I had never heard of… turns out they were onto something.

So, I give to you, the cranberry-orange pull-apart bread… also known as “the longest-named-bread-in-all-the-land.”  Also known as, “The only thing that saved my first loaf from being completely devoured.”  Also known as, actually no, that’s all it’s known as.

When the fiance asked what I was making and I said “cranberry orange bread” he was super unexcited and responded much like any small child normal adult would, with extreme prejudice and skepticism.

Apparently I wasn’t the only person on the planet who hadn’t combined oranges and cranberries into delicious.

CRAN ORANGE 5-2

So, if there are anymore of you out there, I’m here to let you know that I put oranges with cranberries.  And it was delicious.

Even the fiance loved it.

I wasn’t sure if there would be enough moisture in the mix to rehydrate them, and there wasn’t.  While the bread was still very good, I think it would have benefitted from the juicy berries.  So, I would recommend re-hydrating them in some orange liqueur, orange juice, or even just some water, for about 30 minutes before throwing them into the bread.

CRAN ORANGE 3-3.2

Alternatively, you could probably use some orange marmalade instead of orange sugar for the filling, or fresh cranberries instead of dried, or leftover cranberry sauce even.  I didn’t have orange marmalade, fresh cranberries, or leftover cranberry sauce, but I did have a bag of oranges and a bag of dried cranberries.

I mean, if cinnamon bread is filled with cinnamon-sugar then clearly orange sugar would be perfect for this, right? So, I zested the oranges into some sugar and VOILA!  Orange sugar was born!  Then I sprinkled the cranberries as best I could and shoved any stragglers into the pan after stacking the dough pieces. 

And again with the glaze.

cranberry orange pull apart bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves

This recipe makes 2 loaves but it can easily be halved to make just one loaf, or you can make two different kinds of loaves filled with cinnamon-sugar or pumpkin

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of your favorite cinnamon roll dough (my favorite recipe below)
  • For the dough
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 4 cups + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the filling
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons orange zest (about 3 to 4 large navel oranges)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries* (see note below)
  • 1 stick of butter; softened to room temperature
  • For the glaze
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons milk; plus extra if needed

Instructions

    For the filling
  1. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and orange zest, set aside while you prepare the dough.
  2. In another bowl, reconstitute dried cranberries (optional, but recommended)
  3. For the dough
  4. In a large (8 cup) saucepan, mix the milk, sugar, and vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is steaming. Remove from heat and cool to luke-warm (110-115F degrees), then add the yeast. Stir to combine; let sit 5 minutes to allow yeast to bloom.
  5. Stir 4 cups of flour into the milk mixture and put lid on the pot. Allow to sit for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, add remaining dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour dough out onto a large sheet of saran wrap and wrap dough tightly. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight. (You could also roll the dough out immediately by sprinkling the counter with flour and kneading until the dough is no longer sticky. Once the dough isn't sticky, cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes to allow the dough to rest)
  6. To roll the dough
  7. Pour dough onto lightly-floured surface and separate into two equal halves. Roll one half to a 12 x 20-inch rectangle and cover the other with a kitchen towel to prevent from drying out. Spread softened butter over the dough. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into 6 long 2-inch wide strips.
  8. Spoon generous amounts of orange sugar onto one strip of dough and sprinkle with cranberries, top with another strip and sprinkle sugar/cranberries onto that strip. Repeat until all of the strips are in a pile and covered with sugar/cranberries.
  9. Slice the strip of dough into 5 4-inch wide strips. Stack strips tall-wise into a loaf pan. It will be sloppy, they'll flop everywhere, it's OK. I actually propped my bread pan on its side to make the first few strips a little easier.
  10. Repeat with the other half of dough, sugar, cranberries, and butter.
  11. To bake the dough
  12. Cover and let rise 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
  13. Preheat oven to 350F. Once dough has risen and oven is preheated, cook bread 45 to 55 minutes until cooked through. If the top starts to get too brown, lightly tent with a piece of foil and continue cooking.
  14. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to continue cooling.
  15. For the glaze
  16. Mix ingredients together, adding more milk if the mixture is too thick or more powdered sugar if the mixture is too thin.

Notes

*Those of you who thermom your bread want the final temp to be between 190F and 200F.

*Glaze is entirely optional, if you do use a glaze be sure to pour it on while the bread is still nice and warm.

*You can rehydrate dried cranberries by covering with water, or another liquid. Pour liquid over dried cranberries and let stand 30 minutes.

http://wee-eats.com/2013/12/03/cranberry-orange-pull-apart/

cran orange pin

pumpkin pull apart bread

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Thanksgiving is Thursday, and I know that we are all very busy, but I just wanted to share this one recipe.

Just really quickly.

I’d been planning on making this bread for so long but have had a long succession of extremely busy weekends, and then… we had a stormy weekend that made me want to stay in PJs all day and do nothing but bake.

So I did.

So I’ll share just this one recipe and then I’ll let you relax and then I’ll relax too, because it’s almost Thanksgiving.  And we are all very busy.

Too busy to write, too busy to read, too busy to even think sometimes.

So don’t think, just look at this warm, cinnamony, pumpkiny, pull-apart loaf.

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Now, yes, I realize it’s CALLED a pull-apart loaf and we just spent countless minutes (ALL THE MINUTES!) slicing and stacking and cutting and piling, so it is only logical that the best way to eat it would be to pull it apart.  That being said, I assure you that is just as good, if not better, sliced.  That’s right, I said it, SLICED! Sliced just like a real loaf of bread.

In fact, I found slicing the bread to be a much more efficient way of stuffing the bread into my face.  I wish I had taken a picture of how pretty the sliced bread looked, but again, the face-shoving prevailed.  Plus your fingers get sticky with the sweet sugary insides (and outsides) and who wants to handle a camera with sticky sugar fingers when the other option is to lick the sweet sugary goo off of your fingers?  Not this girl, no sir.

However, that whole pull-apart thing is much better for acting like you’re going to have “just a bite” and walk away, plus it makes a darn good-looking loaf of bread.  I mean, sure you could save all that time and just make a “swirl” bread but then it wouldn’t look this awesome.  The outside would be boring, like plain bread.  As you can see, the outside of this bread is way awesomer than regular bread.

Shall we compare?

On the left you will see a loaf of someone else’s cinnamon swirl bread that I found by googling “cinnamon swirl loaf”.  I’m sure it is perfectly delicious loaf of bread on the inside, but how do you know that it’s awesome from the outside?  You don’t.  For all we know it’s a loaf of plain bread that is just masquerading as cinnamon swirl bread.

By contrast, the bread on the right is obviously awesome or at least filled with stuff, which gives it a much greater potential for awesome.

cinn_bread_loaf_board_glam pumpkin photo 2 (6)

To review: Left = Boring; Right = Exciting.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, slicing.

I sliced the remainder of my loaf and stuck it in the freezer, so that future Natalie & Fiance can have pumpkin french toast.

(Note: To this point I have continued to refer to my beloved Fiance as “BF” out of sheer laziness, plus I kinda think the word “fiance” sounds pretentious.  It does a little bit, doesn’t it?)

I’m such a thinker, always watching out for future Natalie & future Fiance and their tummies.

I was originally going to make a filling with some spices and pumpkin puree, but then I saw a jar of pumpkin butter in the pantry so I just went ahead an slathered it on.

And it was good.

So good.

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Of course, I couldn’t resist a bit of a glaze on top.  Apparently I’m on a glaze-kick though.

If that’s a thing.

I think it is.

I’ll warn you now that I’m not doing a Thursday Things for this week, because it’s Thanksgiving and that would just be silly… Hopefully this recipe will help to keep you company in my place.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves

This recipe makes 2 loaves but it can easily be halved to make just one loaf, or you can make two different kinds of loaves filled with cinnamon-sugar

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of your favorite cinnamon roll dough (my favorite recipe below)
  • 2 10-ounce jars pumpkin butter
  • For the dough
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 4 cups + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the glaze
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons milk; plus extra if needed

Instructions

    For the dough
  1. In a large (8 cup) saucepan, mix the milk, sugar, and vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is steaming. Remove from heat and cool to luke-warm (110-115F degrees), then add the yeast. Stir to combine; let sit 5 minutes to allow yeast to bloom.
  2. Stir 4 cups of flour into the milk mixture and put lid on the pot. Allow to sit for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, add remaining dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour dough out onto a large sheet of saran wrap and wrap dough tightly. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight. (You could also roll the dough out immediately by sprinkling the counter with flour and kneading until the dough is no longer sticky. Once the dough isn't sticky, cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes to allow the dough to rest)
  3. To roll the dough
  4. Pour dough onto lightly-floured surface and separate into two equal halves. Roll one half to a 12 x 20-inch rectangle and cover the other with a kitchen towel to prevent from drying out. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into 6 long 2-inch wide strips.
  5. Spoon generous amounts of pumpkin butter onto one strip of dough top with another strip and spoon pumpkin butter onto that strip, repeat until all of the strips are in a pile and smeared with pumpkin butter.
  6. Slice the strip of dough into 5 4-inch wide strips. Stack strips tall-wise into a loaf pan. It will be sloppy, they'll flop everywhere, it's OK. I actually propped my bread pan on its side to make the first few strips a little easier.
  7. Repeat steps with other half of dough and pumpkin butter.
  8. To bake the dough
  9. Cover and let rise 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
  10. Preheat oven to 350F. Once dough has risen and oven is preheated, cook bread 45 to 55 minutes until cooked through. If the top starts to get too brown, lightly tent with a piece of foil and continue cooking.
  11. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to continue cooling.
  12. For the glaze
  13. Mix ingredients together, adding more milk if the mixture is too thick or more powdered sugar if the mixture is too thin.

Notes

*Those of you who thermom your bread want the final temp to be between 190F and 200F.

*Glaze is entirely optional, if you do use a glaze be sure to pour it on while the bread is still nice and warm.

*This recipe makes two loaves of bread. I made my second loaf into a different flavor (COMING SOON...)

http://wee-eats.com/2013/11/25/pumpkin-pull-apart-bread/

pumpkin-photo-1-5 pin

 

 

cinnamon smile bread

cinnamon swirl bread DSC_0404

 

Because it’s Sunday.

And Sundays are for baking.  And for breakfast.

And for eating something sweet and calling it breakfast.  Because, why not?

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Especially when it smiles at you.  Doesn’t your day feel better already?

Sundays are for cinnamon and sugar and not waking up at 5 am to let dough rise and cut and fold cinnamon rolls.

Sundays are for easy recipes that you can make in your pajamas.

And for recipes that prepare you for Monday.

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Because Mondays are evil, and can only be improved with some leftover cinnamon bread.  With a smile built in.

If you’re feeling extra generous, you could even make an extra loaf and take it to work to comfort your co-workers, too.

Cinnamon Smile Bread

Makes 1 9-by-5 inch loaf

Printable Recipe

  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 large egg

  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda

  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

2.  In a small bowl, combine ⅓ cup granulated sugar with the cinnamon, brown sugar, and cocoa powder; set aside. .

3.  Melt butter in a large microwave-safe bowl, about 1 minute; set aside to cool.  Once butter is cooled, whisk in the egg, ⅓ cup brown sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.  Whisk in buttermilk until incorporated.

4.  Add the flour, nutmeg, baking soda, optional salt, and gently fold ingredients until just combined.  Be careful not to overmix, the batter will still be thick and lumpy.

5.  Pour half the batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.  Sprinkle three-fourths of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the batter, the top with remaining half of the batter.  Smoothe the top with a spatula and sprinkle remaining ¼ of cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top.

6.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Allow bread to cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

*Bread will keep at room temperature wrapped tightly for up to 5 days.  You can also freeze the loaf (whole or sliced) for up to 3 months.

[ Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks ]

Sunday Brunch: Meyer Lemon Cake

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Two things:

1.  This cake is filled TO THE TOP with lemon flavor.

2.  It is probably the best lemon cake known to man.

Maybe not, but it might be.  I haven’t tried every lemon cake on the planet (yet). It has  a bright citrus flavor with a light and airy crumb… I don’t know how it happens, but it does.  And it’s magical.  Even though it’s no secret that I’m a chocolate girl at heart, every once in a while I crave something a little more… refreshing.  Plus, it’s not really acceptable to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

Lemon cake, on the other hand, is totally legit.

Replacing the lemons called for in the recipe with meyer lemons allows the ctirus flavor to really shine and keeps it light and refreshing instead of having the citrus flavor assault your tongue.

Like, I love lemons, but if you give me a lemony treat I can usually only eat so much of it before my mouth is just tired of the lemon flavor.    It’s all “HEY I’M LEMON AND I’M HERE IN YO FACE,” where meyer lemon is like the regular lemon’s sweeter, more laid back cousin who is just like “Hey, what’s up? I’m kinda lemony and kinda sweet… whatevs.”

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That being said, if regular lemons are your thing (ahem, BFF), go with that.  I will happily use regular lemons later in the year when my darling meyer lemons are nowhere to be seen.

But, if you do get happen to find some meyer lemons in your basket at the store, bring them home and make this amazing sweet, citrusy cake.  You will not be sorry.  A little guilty, maybe, but not sorry.  Not too guilty though, this cake has yogurt so it’s good for you!  (Something like that)

Meyer Lemon Cake

Makes: 1 loaf

[ Printable Recipe ]

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

For the Soak:

  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line a 8 x 5 inch loaf pan

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and lemon zest.

3. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until mixed.  Gently fold in the vegetable oil until incorporated.  Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes or until done.

4. While the loaf bakes, make your lemon soak by heating ⅓ cup lemon juice and ⅓ cup sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside while loaf finishes baking.

5. When loaf is done baking, cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet.  (To make clean-up easier, line the baking sheet with foil).  Pour the lemon soak over the loaf and allow it to soak in while the loaf continues to cool.

6. Once the loaf is completely cooled, make your lemon glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over cake to your liking.  Honestly, I think the cake was just perfect even WITHOUT the glaze, so if you want to skip this step, be my guest!

* Alternatively, you can use 1 cup of plain yogurt + 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

[ Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home ]