Rustic Ciabatta Bread

September 2, 2014

 

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I think it is about time to bake some bread. Recently I’ve had quite the craving for some good, hearty, home-baked bread. The store-bought variety just won’t do. I simply can’t abide that pillowy squishy white Wonder bread that practically dissolves to mush when you bite into it….I’m talking about some bread you can really sink your teeth into, with a chewy yet crispy crust surrounding a light, airy, springy interior with lots of nooks and crannies to hold all of the dipping oil, butter, jam or jelly I can pile onto it.  Ciabatta Bread is what I want. Ciabatta, which means “slipper”, is the Italian answer to French baguettes. The dough for this yeast bread has high hydration which gives it all of those lovely bubbles, making the finished loaves appear riddled with holes. It also makes the bread very difficult to shape, (take note here, when the recipe below says “wet or floured” hands, you better do it. This dough is sticky beyond all reason!) resulting in broad somewhat flatter loaves which kind of resemble a flat old house slipper. I guess that doesn’t sound very appetizing come to think of it, but take my word for it, this bread is delicious!

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Once I had decided to make this particular bread, I knew just where to turn for the perfect recipe, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day is one of my favourite cookbooks. It is just chock full of wonderful bread recipes. I’ve made quite a few of them is the past, such as Napoletana Pizza Dough, Pain a l’Ancienne Focaccia, Chocolate Cinnamon Babka, Struan and his Best Biscuits Ever and I have always been delighted with the outcome, so I just knew his Rustic Ciabatta Bread would be fantastic as well. Boy oh boy was I right. This bread was everything I hoped. I couldn’t believe it came out of my little old kitchen and not a fancy bakery!

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Now I wouldn’t say this bread is difficult to make, but I will say there are quite a few steps involved and an overnight cold fermentation. So you need to plan ahead. It is not really a spur of the moment, I need a loaf of bread for dinner in a couple of hours kind of thing. And there are some tools of the trade which I definitely recommend. It is not that you can’t make this bread without them, but if you have them, your life will be far easier. So here is a rundown of my bread baking essential tools. This bread requires an instant yeast which is different from active dry yeast. You can substitute in active dry yeast if that is all you have, but you should increase the amount of yeast by 25 percent. I love the SAF Red Instant Yeast and keep a canister of it in my freezer all of the time. I think that a stand mixer is pretty essential for me, though this bread can be made by hand. A good thermometer, like this Thermapen, which takes quick readings, is great. A kitchen scale is very handy as well. You will be able to get a much more accurate measurement if you weigh ingredients, rather than trying to rely on volume measurements, such as cups. Everyone scoops ingredients differently. A cup scooped by me, will likely weigh different from a cup scooped by another person. Dough Rising Buckets are a great thing to have on hand. You can simply let your dough rise in a big bowl, if you don’t have a bucket, but these are great because they are easy to close or cover to prevent drafts, and there are measurements marked on the outside making it easier to tell when your dough has doubled in size. And finally, I recommend having a baking stone to bake your bread upon. A baking stone will absorb and retain heat better than a regular sheet pan. That radiated heat will encourage more oven spring. Oven spring is the final burst of rising that happens just after bread is introduced to the oven, before the crust begins to harden. If you are able to produce a good oven spring your bread will have a light and airy texture. Steam also helps at this moment. Steam will keep the outside of the bread softer for a bit longer so that you can maximize the oven spring of the yeast. It also makes the crust a bit more crackly and chewy. Suggestions for producing a blast of steam in a home oven are included in the directions below. Now don’t let all of those tools overwhelm you. You don’t have to have all of them to make this bread. You can put some of these nifty tools on your baking wish list and in the meantime just go on ahead a make up a batch of this bread. I think you’ll be very pleased with yourself as well as with these Rustic Ciabatta Loaves. Light and airy, soft and springy surrounded by a satisfyingly chewy yet crispy crust.. Yum! There is nothing quite like home-baked bread!

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Rustic Ciabatta Bread

  • Difficulty: moderate
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recipe from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups (20 oz./567 grams) unbleached bread flour (I used King Arthur’s Unbleached Bread Flour)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (0.4 oz/11 grams) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (0.14 oz/4 grams) instant yeast (my favourite yeast is saf-instant yeast)
  • 2 cups (16 oz./454 grams) chilled water (about 55ºF or 13ºC)
  • 1 Tablespoon (0.5 oz/14 grams) olive oil

Directions:

Combine the flour, salt, east and water in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. The dough should be coarse and sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Drizzle the olive oil over the dough. Then mix on medium-low speed using the paddle attachment for 1 minute. The dough should become smoother but will still be very soft, sticky and wet. Use a wet bowl scraper or spatula to transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl.(I use these plastic dough rising buckets) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface. With wet or oiled hands, reach under the front end of the dough, stretch it out, then fold it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back-end and then from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball. The dough should be significantly firmer, though still very soft and fragile. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Repeat this process three more times, completing all repetitions within 40 minutes.

After the final stretch and fold, immediately cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate over night or for up to 4 days. The dough will rise, possibly to double its original size, in the refrigerator. If you plan to bake the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.

When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator three hours in advance ( or an hour earlier if the dough hasn’t increased to 1 1/2 times its original size in the refrigerator overnight.)

One hour after taking the dough out of the refrigerator, line the back of a sheet pan with parchment paper and generously dust the entire surface with flour. Use a wet or oiled bowl scraper to transfer the dough to the work surface, taking care to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid degassing it.

Dust the top surface of the dough with flour and also flour your hands. Using your hands or a metal pastry scraper, gently coax and pat the dough into a rough square measuring about 9 inches on each side, still taking care to degas it as little as possible.

Cut the dough into 3 even strips about 3 inches wide and 9 inches long. The pieces will each weigh about 12 ounces or 340 grams. With floured hands, gently fold the dough in thirds, like folding a letter but without applying any pressure. Gently roll the folded dough in the dusting flour to coat it and then lift the dough and place it on the parchment paper, again rolling it in the dusting flour on the parchment. Rest the dough seam side down on the parchment and repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Mist the tops of the dough pieces with spray oil and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a clean, lint free towel. After 1 hour, gently roll the pieces over so the seam side is up, lift and cradle each piece with floured hands, and, working from the underside, gently coax it to a length of 5 inches. Lay the pieces back on the parchment seam side up. Straighten the sides of each piece with your hands or a pastry scraper so that they are more rectangular than oblong, mist with spray oil again, the cover loosely and proof for 1 hour more.

About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 550ºF (288ºC) or as high as it will go. Place a baking stone, if you are using one, or sheet pan if you prefer, as well as a steam pan in the oven to preheat as well. The steam pan can be either a sheet pan with a 1″ rim or a lasagna pan with taller side, or even a cast-iron frying pan. The steam pan should be placed on the shelf under the baking stone.

When ready to bake, slide the dough, parchment and all, onto the stone or sheet pan. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the preheated steam pan, Always use an oven mitt or a hot pad and wear long sleeves when adding water to the hot steam pan to prevent steam burns. You should also cover oven windows with a dry dish towel or rag to prevent backsplash from hitting the window and cracking it. Do not forget to remove the towel before closing the oven door! Use a watering can with a long spout when pouring water into the steam pan.You can also use a spray bottle such as a plant mister, to spritz the oven walls a few times to create additional steam. Then close the door and lower the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC).

Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the crust is a rich brown (streaked with dusting flour). The bread should puff a little, and the crust should be hard when tapped (it’ll soften as it cools). Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes before slicing

Enjoy!

Rustic Ciabatta Loaves brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema on Buttery Buns

July 18, 2014

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Summer grilling weather is happening as we speak. Temperatures have certainly soared to a level at which the thought of turning on the stove top, or heaven forbid the oven is ludicrous. Yup…I say don’t do a thing that would encourage that mercury to climb one fraction of an inch higher inside your house. Come supper time, send the husband out into the wilds of the backyard to grill up some meat. A favourite summer grilled entree around here is the humble yet very tasty hot dog. No fuss, no muss! And how in the world could a hot dog get any better? Well there is that bit where you can add some chili and cheese to arrive at the Chili Cheese Dog. Those are pretty special, but I think I’ve found something to add that might even surpass them. Are you ready for it? Wrap them in Bacon!

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Everything is better with bacon and hot dogs are no exception to that rule. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner, but I am so glad that I finally got around to it. The addition of a little strip of bacon makes those dogs seem so much fancier.

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And when you throw in some home-baked Buttery Hot Dog Buns (so much for keeping the oven off :) ) and a delicious condiment like this Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema, the simple grilled dog has gone completely over the top…soaring to – dare I say it – gourmet heights! Now I knew that bacon wrapped hot dogs would be fantastic. And I must say, these Buttery Buns are perfection – rich, tender and soft, yet tough enough to stand up to not only a bacon wrapped dog but also all of the toppings you can heap on as well.

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But the big surprize was this Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema. I am completely head over heels in love with it. It hits your taste buds with a wonderfully fresh and spicy zing which is quickly followed with a smooth, cooling creaminess. I’m a bit out of control, putting it on everything. I just can’t get enough. I’ve probably whipped up my 4th batch at this point. Now I will warn you, it is spicy! So for those of you with tender tongues, go easy. You have been warned. But for those of you out there like the husband and myself, get ready for a new addiction. So what are you waiting for? Get that grill fired up and make some of these Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema today.

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Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema on Buttery Buns

  • Servings: 5-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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sources: Jalapeno/CilantroCrema sauce inspired by: Milk & Honey , Buttery Hot Dog Buns from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 10 hot dogs (your choice – but I love Hebrew Nationals or Nathans)
  • 10 strips of bacon (not thick cut)
  • 10 Homemade Buttery Hot Dog Buns (recipe below-or just use store-bought ones if your oven is entirely off-limits!)
  • Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema (recipe below)
  • Additional toppings such as: cheese, chopped white onion, mustard, ketchup, coleslaw

Directions:

Bake Buttery Hot Dog Buns (recipe will follow) and set aside to cool.

Prepare Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema (recipe will follow). Pour into squeeze bottle and place in fridge to cool.

Wrap each hot dog with a strip of bacon. You can secure each bacon end into the hot dog with a toothpick if you wish, but I didn’t and the bacon stayed put!  Cook each hot dog on a grill over a medium to low heat. Do not try to turn your dog too soon or the bacon will be more likely to stick to the grill. Gently rotate each bacon wrapped hot dog as they cook so that all sides can be cooked evenly. Remove from the grill when the bacon becomes crispy. 

To get those nice grill marks on your hot dog buns: Brush each side of hot dog rolls with melted butter and place on the grill for 15 -20 seconds before flipping to other side. Set aside and keep warm.

When ready to eat, grab a warm home-made bun, place a bacon wrapped dog in it, squeeze some of that delicious Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema over it and add whatever other toppings you desire!

For the Buttery Hot Dog Buns:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (361 grams) King Arthur Unbleached Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (35 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (28 grams) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (46 grams) potato flour or 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) soft unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (227 grams) lukewarm water

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients, mixing then kneading to make a smooth dough. Let the dough rise, covered, until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease a New England-style hotdog bun pan. (if you don’t have a hot dog pan – see below)

Gently deflate the dough, and stretch it until it’s about 15″ long and 6″ wide. Place the dough into the pan, stretching it to the edges.

Let the dough rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until it comes to within 1/2″ of the top of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Grease a baking sheet, and place it on top of the risen buns.

Put the covered buns into the oven, weighing the baking sheet down with something heavy and oven-safe; a cast-iron skillet works well.

Bake the buns for 18 minutes, remove the weighted baking sheet, and bake for 2 to 5 minutes longer, if necessary, to brown the buns.

Remove the pan from the oven, and cool the buns in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn them out onto a rack, rounded side up, to cool completely.

Slice each bun down the middle vertically, without cutting through the bottom; then cut between the buns to separate them.

No Hot Dog Pan Option: To make regular (not New England-style) hotdog buns without a pan, divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and form each piece into a cylinder 6″ in length. Transfer buns to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the buns slightly (dough rises more in the center, so this will give them gently rounded tops), then allow to rise for 90 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

For the Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup store-bought pickled sliced jalapenos
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno brine
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of a small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sour cream
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached.

Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema on Buttery Buns brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 

 


Spicy Hush Puppies!

June 27, 2014

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Did someone say Hush Puppies?!! Be still my heart! How I do love those Hush Puppies! And if you’re contemplating making up a big batch of that delicious Carolina Pulled Pork I just told you about for your Independence Day celebrations, these Hush Puppies would be fantastic served right alongside those tasty little sliders. Your party will be the talk of the town! For you folks out there who might not know what a Hush Puppy is, (and I’m not sure where in the world you’ve been hanging out…) a Hush Puppy is basically a ball of cornmeal batter which has been deep-fried. They are often served along side fried seafood dishes or with barbecued foods. Now there are numerous legends about how they got their name. They seem to all involve some group of folks, be they Southern hunters, fisherman, civil war soldiers or cooks, taking a cornmeal mixture which they had been using as battering for whatever food they were cooking, deep-frying it and giving to their barking dogs to get them to quiet down while uttering “Hush Puppy!” as they tossed the tasty little morsels over to them. It actually works too. You will see the truth of it when you serve up a big basket of them at your house. Folks will be so busy chowing down, you won’t hear a peep out of them!

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Hush Puppies are very easy to make. I will mention a couple of pointers that I think will be handy. Make sure you add enough oil to your Dutch Oven. You need to have enough to entirely cover the Hush Puppies as they fry. And take care to get that oil up to 375°F before you start frying and that it returns to that temperature between batches. If the oil is not hot enough when you fry, your puppies will be greasy. I don’t add any sugar into my batter, preferring a savoury, spicy puppy. But if you’re one of those folks that love sweet cornbread, you probably want to add some sugar into this mix. I also like to use the TexMex Grilled Corn (recipe found below) in my Hush Puppies. I think it adds a bit more kick to them.

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However, I have made them in the winter when I wasn’t keen to go out and grill up some corn and have found that canned corn works quite well in a pinch. Believe me, you will find that these little devils are addictive… soft and spicy on the inside with a satisfying crunchy exterior. Try some today and you’ll be hooked!

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Spicy Hush Puppies!

  • Servings: 28-34 puppies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising yellow cornmeal
  • 1  cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional – if you prefer a sweeter puppy, add 1 -2 tablespoons to mix. I do not add any sugar to my mix)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño pepper
  • 1 cup corn (best if you use TexMex Grilled Corn, scroll down for recipe, but regular yellow corn from a tin will work :) )
  • Oil for frying (I prefer peanut oil, but vegetable oil if fine)

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the self-rising cornmeal, self-rising flour, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and sugar if you are using it. In a large glass measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk, egg, grated onion and bacon dripping. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients to the dry. Stir together until the dry ingredients are just combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold the diced jalapeños and grilled corn into the hush puppy batter. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour until mixture has risen.

Place a 6 qt. Dutch oven on the stove. Pour enough oil into it so that it reaches 2″ up the sides. Heat oil until it reaches a temperature of 375°F. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop or two kitchen spoons, drop small rounds of batter into the oil. Do not crowd the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally and flipping halfway through, until golden on the outside and crisp, about 3 -4 minutes. Remove hush puppies from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with tartar sauce, honey, butter, remoulade, etc. or just use them to mop up any extra barbecue sauce that might be lurking about.  Your choice!

TexMex Grilled Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3 -4 ears of fresh corn in husk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl and whisk together.
Preheat grill.
Peel back the corn husks, discarding all but a couple inner layers. Remove corn silk, then baste with dressing, and recover corn with remaining husk.
Grill on med-high for 20-25 minutes, turning 3-4 times during cooking time.
Remove the corn from grill and allow to cool a few minutes, then cut off stem end, place the flat cut end on bottom of large bowl, and use a corn zipper to strip the kernels from the cob. Or if you don’t have a zipper, run a small sharp knife down the length of the cob, slicing off kernels.

Enjoy!

Spicy Hush Puppies brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 


Irish Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Soda Bread Croutons

March 6, 2014

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I don’t know how the weather is in your neck of the woods, but around here there is really no sign of Spring. That groundhog varmint was right and we have been firmly in the grip of an arctic vortex with temperatures lower than they have any right to go here in the supposed southern state of Virginia. The latest go round of snow and frigid temps really had me craving a big bowl of French Onion soup. But since St. Patrick’s Day is nigh, I decided to Irish it up a bit. Just how do you do that you might ask. Well, how about adding in a splash or two of Irish Whiskey (you know my brand by now right – Jameson’s) and a glug or so of Irish Stout.

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This is where I’m going to get a little tricky on you though. I know a veritable river of Guinness has been flowing out of my kitchen lately. It is the Irish stout that is most widely known and I’m a fan. However, I went to college in Cork, Ireland and in that part of the country, Guinness is not King. Murphy’s Irish Stout- aka The Rebel Stout holds court there. You see Murphy’s Stout is similar to Guinness but a bit less heavy and with fewer bitter notes. It has been brewed in Cork since 1856. Why is it called “The Rebel Stout”? That has to do with its County Cork origins. Historically, Cork has been known as the Rebel County, a name it acquired due to the prominent role it played in the Irish War of Independence (1919-21) as well as the fact that it was an anti-treaty stronghold during the Irish Civil War (1922-23). Murphy’s Irish Stout is widely distributed outside of Ireland and you could likely easily find it at your local grocery, especially this close to St. Patrick’s Day. Next time you see it, grab some and give it a taste. You could even do a stout tasting with Guinness, Murphy’s and a few of your local brews. Sounds like fun huh? But I guess I should get back to this soup. Having spent all that time in Cork, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t give Murphy’s a shout out.

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I used it for this Irish Onion soup and I couldn’t have been more pleased! The malty notes from the Murphy’s Irish Stout gave this soup quite a rich and deep flavour. Yet, it still wasn’t quite Irish-y enough for me. So instead of topping my onion soup with the usual toasted french baguette slice, I baked up some mini Irish soda bread loaves which I split in half and used in lieu of the french standard.

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Topped with grated Kerrygold Cheddar Cheese, you have a crouton worthy of this hearty Irish Onion Soup. guaranteed to warm you on the most polar vortex-y of days.

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Irish Onion Soup

recipe adapted from: The Fox & She

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 medium yellow onions, sliced in rings
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup Irish Whiskey (Jameson!)
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • Pinch kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 cup Stout Beer, Murphys or Guinness
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 12 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Thick slices Irish Soda Bread (recipe to follow)
  • grated Irish Cheddar Cheese

Directions:

In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter, cook onions over medium to medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Add whiskey, flour and pinch of salt. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add Murphy’s (or Guinness) and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, thyme, pepper and remaining salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove thyme sprigs.

Ladle into oven safe bowl and top with 1/2 of mini soda bread loaf and grated irish cheddar. Place under the broiler until cheese is bubbly and toast is browned. Be Careful! Some broiler are nuclear hot and will burn everything to a cinder if you turn your back for a second! (If you can’t do the broiler thing, just toast the soda bread, melt cheese over the top and then add to irish soup.)

Mini Irish Soda Breads

recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour

yield: 6 mini loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) King Arthur Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour (9 3/4 ounces) *
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 5/8 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • flaked sea salt
  • melted salted butter to brush top of loaves

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, a pastry fork or blender, or your fingers, cut in the butter until it is evenly distributed and no large chunks remain.

In a separate bowl (or in a measuring cup) whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. The dough will be stiff; if it’s too crumbly to squeeze together, add another tablespoon or two of buttermilk.

Knead the dough a couple of times to make sure it’s holding together. If you are making individual mini loaves, divide into 6 equal sized pieces. ( 5 ounces each).  Shape each it into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross, extending all the way to the edges, atop each loaf.

Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven, and brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

Enjoy!

* If you don’t have time to order your King Arthur Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour and you aren’t in Ireland with immediate access to Irish Wholemeal Flour, you can substitute in 10 ounces of King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour

**Recipe will also make 1 large loaf of Irish Soda Bread if you would rather not be bothered with the mini loaves :)


Guinness Irish Apple Beer Bread & Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread

March 1, 2014

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Here it is March 1st already! That means today is the first day of my annual blog-stravaganza leading up to St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th. Yup…I will be publishing one Irish-y recipe every day until March 17th. This is the 3rd year that I have done this and if you are looking for some tasty Irish-y dishes for St. Patrick’s Day, I hope you will follow along here each day. But I should also mention that I have quite a back catalog of Irish-y recipes from the past years. Just click on Runcible Eats/Recipes at the top of the navigation bar and scroll down to St. Patrick’s Day to see them.  (or just click here and scroll down)

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This year we’re going to get underway with a great recipe for a quick beer bread using… you guessed it – Guinness! Now you know that a bread made with Guinness is going to be fantastic. Cooking anything with Guinness just seems to improve it whether it be a hearty beef stew or a rich chocolate cake. Guinness stout seems to give everything a real depth of flavour. And this Guinness Irish Apple Beer Bread not only has yummy Guinness goodness in it, but it also has delicious apple butter added into the mix! I used some of my homemade Drunken Granny Apple Butter, but if you don’t have time to whip up a batch of your own, any store-bought apple butter will do in a pinch.  Being a quick bread, there are no rise times involved, so you’ll have two loaves out of the oven and ready for snacking before you know it. The bread is very moist and bursting with apple flavour. I like mine slathered in butter.

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The folks at A Spicy Perspective, the blog where I came across the original recipe, suggested that it paired well with a sharp cheddar spread. Apples and cheddar do taste great together, so I adapted a spicy cheddar spread from the folks at Cabot Creamery that I already had in my repertoire. Since this is for St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to Irish it up a bit and used Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar Cheese and a bit more Guinness (of course). Folks loved the resulting Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread, both on the bread and on crackers as  well.

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This bread would work well with whatever St. Patrick’s Day feast you are preparing, but would also be very welcome at your St. Patrick’s Day breakfast table. Or as a mid-day snack to sop up some of those pints, I mean as a bit of pick-me-up. Make a couple of loaves today and don’t forget the Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread! (That’s one down and 16 more days to go!)

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Guinness Irish Apple Beer Bread

recipe adapted from: A Spicy Perspective

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Drunken Granny Apple Butter, or your favourite Apple Butter
  • 12 oz. Guinness Stout beer
  • 1 Tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup (can substitute in 1 T Molasses)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two 8 1/2 x 4″ loaf pans.

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, apple butter, Guinness and golden syrup. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Slowly add dry mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pans. Baked for 60 – 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool bread in the loaf pans for 10 minutes before gently inverting on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread

recipe adapted from: Cabot Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups) *
  • 1/4 cup  Sour Cream
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Guinness Stout
  • Large pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground red pepper (cayenne)

Directions:

Place grated cheddar, sour cream, butter, Guinness, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in bowl of  food processor and pulse until smooth.

* You can substitute in another cheddar if you are not able to find Kerrygold. I will mention though that you should buy a block of cheddar and grate it yourself. Do not use bags of shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is coated with cellulose or corn starch to keep it from sticking together and could cause your cheese spread to be less creamy than it could be if you grated the cheese at home.

Enjoy!


Five Minute Brioche Rolls

August 13, 2013

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Well, it’s August now, which must mean Summer is going to be winding down soon (please Jesus!). Though I bet there are a fair share of you who are still getting some visitors turning up on their door. It doesn’t really happen too terribly often to us here in swampy, mosquito infested Virginia. But I bet those of you with more desirable locales are enjoying the company of some visiting friends and family. And if folks don’t appear this summer, the holidays aren’t too far around the corner. This recipe for Five Minute Brioche rolls is a godsend when you have folks staying with you for a few days. They will think you truly are some sort of domestic goddess as you appear from the kitchen daily, with not even one hair out-of-place, bearing a different type of freshly baked, delicious roll. Say… Pain au Chocolat rolls for breakfast, a cinnamon sugar bread loaf for afternoon tea and then savoury little pesto rolls for dinner. Now I suppose you could muss up the hair a bit and artfully dust yourself with flour if you wanted to go down the more dramatic path. But it would be all for show, because this recipe is sooo easy and you will be able to make all three of these breads, or rolls with whatever flavour combinations you fancy, by simply spending five minutes to mix the dough up at the onset of your friends stay.

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That is the beauty of this bread! You just mix up the dough, which really does take only about 5 minutes. Let it rise for a couple of hours and then pop it into the fridge for at least two hours. It will keep in the fridge for up to five days. When you are ready to bake a batch of something delicious, you simply scoop out 1/3 of the dough, roll it out in a rectangle, add whatever type of add-ins you prefer (That’s right! This recipe is totally customizable.), roll it up like you would a cinnamon roll and then slice it into 12 portions which you bake in a muffin tin, or bread loaf pan if you wish. Ta Da! It is that easy. I made Pesto Swirl Muffins one day,

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followed by Pain au Chocolate Muffins the next,

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and then did a Cinnamon Sugar Swirl loaf on the third.

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I first saw this brilliant recipe on The Café Sucré Farina‘s blog. (Fantastic site – you must take a peek!) Apparently there is actually a book (and website) called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes which has recipes for all different types of bread which can be made using this technique. Fascinating huh? I used to be very intimidated by yeast breads. But luckily I got over that, which is a good thing because yeast breads are just so delicious. And this Five Minute Technique shows you how easy making drool-worthy homemade bread can be. I was tempted to mix up another batch at the start of this week, but in the not too distant future I will be heading out on a beach vacation and eating batch upon batch of rich, buttery Brioche is not a good idea when one needs to be sporting a bikini. For those of you who know me well, I’m sure you’ve read that sentence over several times now and are concerned with how far the mercury has plummeted in Hell. Believe me, I agree it is a bit odd. I will have to let you know if I actually spontaneously combust at the moment my pale, pasty foot hits the sand. Wish me luck and effective sun screen coverage while eating a few of these Brioche rolls.

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Five Minute Brioche Rolls

recipe adapted from: The Café Sucré Farina

yield: 12 Muffins per each 1/3 of dough

Ingredients:

For the Brioche:

  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated yeast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 7 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the Pesto Swirled Rolls:

  • ⅓ of the brioche dough
  • ¼ cup pesto, purchased or homemade
  • 1 large egg, mixed with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash

Ingredients for the Pain Au Chocolat Rolls:

  • 1/3 of the brioche dough
  • 1 cup roughly chopped chocolate
  • 1 large egg, mixed with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash

Ingredients for the Cinnamon Swirl Loaf:

  • 1/3 of the brioche dough
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container. I used this dough rising bucket that I purchased from King Arthur Flour and it works perfectly! Mix in the flour, using a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated.Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours. Refrigerate for a least two hours before proceeding with recipe.
Instructions for the Pesto Rolls:
Generously butter a 12 cup muffin pan.Scoop up approximately ⅓ of dough and place on a well-floured work surface. Turn dough several times till coated with flour on all sides. Roll dough into a 10×18 inch rectangle. Spread evenly with pesto to within 1/2-inch of edges.Beginning on one long side, roll the dough into a log and pinch edge to seal. Turn dough so that seam is faced down.Cut log into 12 portions, approximately 1-½ inches each. Place in prepared muffin cups with a swirled sides up and down. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 40-60 minutes or until doubled in size. When almost doubled, preheat oven to 350˚F.Brush rolls with egg wash and place in oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Check rolls after 15 minutes. If they’re getting too brown, cover with foil and bake for 5 more minutes to ensure that center will not be doughy.Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then carefully transfer to cooling rack. When completely cool. transfer to an airtight container. May be frozen. Thaw and re-warm in a 325˚F oven for 5-8 minutes right before serving.Instructions for the Pain Au Chocolat Rolls:Follow the above instructions, but replace pesto with 1 cup of roughly chopped chocolate. I used dark chocolate and was quite pleased, but use whatever type you prefer.Instructions for the Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Loaf:

Generously butter a 5X9″ bread pan.

Whisk cinnamon into granulated sugar. Set aside.

Melt butter.

Scoop up approximately ⅓ of dough and place on a well-floured work surface. Turn dough several times till coated with flour on all sides. Roll dough into a 5X8″ rectangle.

Brush the surface of the dough lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the buttered dough, leaving a 1/4″ border.

Beginning with the 5″ side of the dough, roll up the entire length of dough and pinch seam closed. Gently rock the roll back and forth to even it out.

Place roll of dough in greased bread pan, seam side down.

Beginning on one long side, roll the dough into a log and pinch edge to seal. Turn dough so that seam is faced down.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 40-60 minutes or until doubled in size. When almost doubled, preheat oven to 350˚F.

Gently brush top of loaf with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mix. Bake for 30 -35 minutes or until golden brown. If it is getting too brown, cover with foil.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then carefully transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy!


Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

March 30, 2013

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One a penny, two a penny! Hot Cross Buns! That’s right…it’s time for the Hot Cross Buns to make an appearance. I’m sure you’ve been seeing them everywhere, but I must say, look no further! The best Hot Cross Bun recipe can be found right here. This year I made buns with a bit of a twist from the old traditional ones I usually do and baked Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns. Let me just say, they are dee-lish! They are incredibly moist and bursting with apple and cinnamon flavour, most likely due to a fresh homemade apple cinnamon compote which is added to the dough along with golden raisins, and  bits of dried apple. And if that doesn’t tempt you, as soon as these little buns emerge from the oven, they are drenched in a syrupy apple cinnamon glaze. Do I have your attention now? Yum, yum, YUM!

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On Good Friday I always make Hot Cross Buns. I just have to do it. It’s like I have no choice. I find all of the lore surrounding them fascinating! Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and the cross that adorns them is said to be a symbol of the Crucifixion. However, these little buns may even pre-date Christianity. The cross could possibly have been made in honour of the Saxon Goddess Eostre and in that case would have symbolized the four quarters of the moon. The Buns that are actually baked on Good Friday are said to have quite an array of powers besides their delicious taste. For one thing, these pastrys will never get moldy. I actually have been putting a Good Friday baked bun aside for several years now and I can attest, they do not mold!

Preserved Buns from Easters past!

Preserved Buns from Easters past!

Furthermore, if you hang one in your kitchen, it will not only protect your household from fires but will also work as a charm to ensure all of your bread baking endeavours will be successful. Indeed, a dried bun from the previous year, also has medicinal properties. You can grate a bit of it into the liquid of your choice to make a restorative elixir that will help sick folks regain their health. This powder can also be applied directly to wounds with the same curative results. Amazing!

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Now I must stress that only Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday itself have these powers. So most likely you’re going to have to bake them yourself on the actual day to ensure your buns are filled with these magical properties. Hot Cross Buns are made with yeast, so just keep in mind, there are going to be a couple of rise times involved. You need to plan for it and unless you plan on getting up at o’dark thirty to start working on them, you probably won’t have them available for breakfast that morning. But you could have them ready by elevenses! They are a bit of work, but believe me, these buns are so worth it! And I had the most pleasant surprise. When I finished glazing the Hot Cross Buns I actually had some of the Apple Cinnamon Syrup left over. I set it aside and was quite happy to find that it had actually set up upon cooling, leaving me with a scrumptious jelly! Yup….Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns with Apple Cinnamon Jelly. It just keeps getting better! You’ve gotta make these delicious buns today!

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Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

recipe from: Technicolor Kitchen

yield: 20 Buns

Ingredients:

Apple and lemon compote:

  • 1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (375 ml) water
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, diced
  • 1 cinnamon quill

Dough:

  • 5 cups (700 g) all-purpose flour (I had to add 1 extra cup flour) + 1/3 cup (46 g) extra for the piping mixture
  • 1 cup (155 g) golden raisins
  • 80 g dried apple, diced
  • 14 g (2 sachets/4 ½ teaspoons) dried yeast
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 5 ½ tablespoons (65 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (375 ml) whole milk
  • 100 g unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Start with the compote: combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan, then squeeze in juice of half the lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, cut remaining lemon half into 3mm-thick slices, add to saucepan with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon quill. Bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent (20-25 minutes). Strain, reserving fruit and syrup separately. When cool enough to handle, dice lemon, combine with apple. Remove the cinnamon quill, add it to the syrup and set aside.

Combine flour, raisins, dried apple, yeast, ground cinnamon, allspice, zests, sugar, apple compote and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan, warm over low heat until butter melts and mixture is lukewarm. Whisk in egg, then add milk mixture to flour, stirring to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes) – I used my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook to knead the dough; gradually added 1 cup flour because the mixture was too wet. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl, so just slowly add flour as you are kneading until you see this.
Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes). Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Knock back dough, divide into 20 even pieces, then knead each piece into a smooth ball. Arrange dough in a large rectangle or concentric circles, placing balls side by side onto prepared sheet, leaving 1cm between each for dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).
Preheat oven to 220°C/428°F. Combine the 1/3 cup extra flour and ¼ cup (60 ml) cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun.

Bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven to 200°C/400°F and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped (10-12 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine reserved syrup and cinnamon quill in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until syrupy. Brush thickly over hot buns, then transfer buns to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!


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