Zucchini Banana Bread

September 9, 2016

Zucchini Banana Bread

Well my, my, my! Here it is September. Summer is over and done with (I wish – yet it is still in the upper 90’s around here, a swampy, sweltering mess – Thanks Virginia!) and I have not posted one thing, not one little morsel, since May! Yup – missing in action or at least missing from the kitchen. For shame! Ah well, I’m making my comeback in a big way today. Yup, I have a recipe that has been “wowing” folks all summer long. It has been my go-to baked treat to take to gatherings with me all summer and I kid you not, every single person who tastes it asks for the recipe. The universal clamor was enough to get me off my lazy bum and back to blogging. So without further ado – here you have it – the recipe of the summer….Zucchini Banana Bread.

Zucchini Banana Bread

I know…I just know how skeptical to probably are right now. I was certainly not thinking this would be as amazing as it is when I first set out to make it. I just happened to have a couple suspicious looking bananas as well as a zucchini or two, lying about the kitchen. And then I remembered a recipe that I had seen on Two Peas & Their Pod blog (great blog – if you haven’t taken a peek, what are you waiting for?!) and I got busy. Little did I know the results would be pure magic. Seriously…This is the best banana bread I have ever tasted!

Zucchini Banana Bread

The husband agrees, as do a whole bunch of other lucky folks that have tried it this summer. Truth be told, you can’t taste the zucchini, but it presence in the recipe transforms this banana bread. It is so incredibly moist. Yet it still holds its shape and doesn’t just fall into a pile of crumbs when you go to slather it with butter. But don’t take my word for it. A loaf of this bread comes together easy-peasy. Give a whirl. You’ll be a believer.

Zucchini Banana Bread

Zucchini Banana Bread

  • Servings: one 8x4 inch loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup shredded zucchini – you can do this with a box grater or make quick work of it with a food processor fitted with a shredding disc.
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×4-inch loaf pan* and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Add the flour mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until flour is mixed in. Squeeze the zucchini in a paper towel to remove excess liquid. Fold the zucchini into batter.

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle top with turbinado sugar, if using. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and place on wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

*If you would rather make muffins, line a muffin tin with liners or grease each well. Baked for 20 minutes or until a toothpick come out clean. Will yield 12 muffins.

Zucchini Banana Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Zucchini Banana Bread:

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Sugar in the Raw – Turbinado Sugar

 


Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting

March 10, 2016

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So…here we are…The Sixth Day of my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-thon. And today, not only am I sharing a mouthwateringly amazing recipe for Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting, but things are really getting ready to heat up here in my kitchen. That’s right, a veritable Irish-y recipe blitz is now underway. Up until today I had posting every other day, but from now until St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, you’ll hear from me every day. Seven more delicious recipes coming to you in rapid fire succession! I hope you’ll be checking back in. But let’s not lose sight of the deliciousness before us today in these Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting. What we’ve got here is a lovely sweet Guinness infused yeasted dough which has been filled with buttery brown sugar and pistachios and frosted with a Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting. They’re soft, fluffy, sticky, boozy perfection I tell you.

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I first saw this recipe over at the Blahnik Baker site and just knew I had to make it. I use a slightly different recipe and technique for making the dough than she does. I rely on yeast for all the rise whereas she uses a bit of baking soda and powder as well. Looks interesting, but I was pretty comfortable with the way I knew to do yeast dough, so you know that saying about old dogs and new tricks…I went with what I knew and was very happy with the results.

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As was the Husband. He calls these little gems “Guinness Sticky Buns” rather than their rather long-winded name. In fact, I considered changing the recipe title to that, but found out that Sticky Buns are actually different from what we have here. A true sticky bun is made by lining the baking tin with syrup, honey and nuts before the dough is placed on top. Once it has baked it is inverted so that the lining becomes a sticky topping. Sounds delicious as well, but that isn’t what we have here, so Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls it remains (except in this house where Guinness Sticky Buns stubbornly persists).

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It really doesn’t matter what you call them, just make sure you bake up a batch for an extra special St. Patrick’s Day breakfast treat. After all, there’s nothing like a little Guinness & Baileys to get your busy day of celebrations off to a great start!

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Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Servings: 16 rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: Blahnik Baker

Ingredients:

For the Rolls:

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup Guinness draft beer
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (+ a bit more as needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup shelled pistachios, chopped

For the Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoon Baileys Irish Cream, or more to taste
  • ½ to 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

For the Rolls:

In a large saucepan, heat the milk, Guinness, oil and granulated sugar over medium heat to just below a boil.

Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and allow it to cool to warm (98° – 105° F). Once the milk/Guinness mixture has cooled, sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 5 minutes. It should look foamy once time is up.

With the mixer running on its lowest speed, start to add the flour 1 cup at a time until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl.

Scrape the dough down and allow it to rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 6 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Shape it into a ball and place it into a lightly oiled dough rising bucket (or large bowl). Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise until it is doubled, approximately 1 hour (could be more or less depending on how warm your kitchen is.) At this point you can proceed with baking or place the dough in the refrigerator over night.

Once you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly oil two 9″ pie plates, or cake pans. I had 3 buns which did not fit into my pie pans, so I also used a small 6″ cast iron skillet. You could actually also bake 1/2 of the rolls in a large 9 -10″ cast iron skillet if you prefer.

Assembly:

Remove the dough from bucket and gently deflate. Weigh the dough and divide it in half.

Place the first half dough ball on a silicone pastry mat or lightly floured kitchen counter. Roll it out to a rectangle, measuring about 12 x 8 inches. Paint the melted butter over the dough using a pastry brush. Leave a 1/2″ margin on all sides unbuttered. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar and then half of the pistachios over the melted butter. To roll, start at the end farthest away from you and roll the rectangle towards you. Use both hands and roll tightly. Finish with the seam side down, pinching together any loose ends and rolling back and forth several times on the counter.

Using a sharp knife (or long strand of unflavored dental floss) gently cut the dough into 1 1/4 – 1 1/2″ slices and arrange them in the prepared baking tins.

Repeat this process for the second half of the dough.

Cover the baking tins with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise until they look puffy – approximately 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Remove the plastic wrap and place the buns in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 -22 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Remove from oven to cooling rack and let cool for 10 -15 minutes.

For the frosting:

Prepare the Baileys frosting while the rolls are baking. Place the room temperature cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the milk and the Baileys and mixing until smooth. Slowly (like 1 tablespoon at a time) add the confectioner’s sugar. Wait until the first tablespoon has thoroughly mixed in before adding the second. Continue to add confectioner’s sugar until the frosting reaches the desired consistency.

Load frosting into a pastry bag fitted with round tip. Pipe over warm rolls. (You can also just use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top of all of the rolls, as you wish.)

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls:

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Sauce Pan

Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen Cooking Thermometer

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat

SAF Instant Yeast

Le Creuset 9″ Stoneware Pie Dish

Le Creuset 6 1/3″ Cast Iron Frying Pan

 


Two loaves of Barmbrack (Báirín Breac) Bread – A Yeasted Barmbrack & A Tea Loaf with Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

March 9, 2016

 

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Here we are, March 9th and I’ve already shared 4 Irish-y recipes here in this lead up to St. Patrick’s Day. Today I’ve got a twofer for you. I’m actually going to remind you of two recipes I posted back in October for Barmbrack. Barmbrack is a traditional Halloween treat in Ireland, so I told you all about it back then. But it would certainly be very welcome on any St. Patrick’s Day table as well. Not to mention, I needed a bit of a breather before my blog-a-thon starts to pick up speed. Yup….starting tomorrow I am going to share one new recipe a day all the way to March 17th! A veritable blitz of dishes I tell you. But for now, back to that Barmbrack I just mentioned.

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Barmbrack is also known as Báirín Breac in Irish. Breac means “speckled” which this bread definitely is, being shot through with a variety of fruit. Báirín can either be the word for “loaf” which would make sense since that would make its name be “speckled loaf” in English. However, I’ve also come across the theory that Barm is derived from the word “beorma”, which refers to a fermented liquor which would have been used back in the day to rise the cake. Barmbrack loaves were traditionally baked up on Halloween as part of an ancient fortune-telling ritual. Yup. Several different trinkets or charms (perhaps the origin of that “lucky charm” bit…) were wrapped in parchment paper and baked  into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. Back in October, when I first set out to make Barmbrack, I quickly discovered that there were two different types of the bread to be found, a yeasted version and a non-yeasted version which was more like a tea bread. I couldn’t decide which one to make, so I did a loaf of each. I found the yeasted version to be light, airy, slightly sweet and spicy (in a nutmeg/cinnamon/clove kind of way – not my usual set your tongue alight kind of way.) It was chock full of whiskey & tea soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries. Lovely still warm from the oven, it was even better I think when toasted and slathered in butter!

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The second Brack I made was a Tea Barmbrack, which is a rich, dense loaf similar to a fruitcake. But not one of those yucky things some great Aunt sends you at Christmas. No sir-ee, this crave worthy loaf will completely erase all of your pre-conceived fruitcake notions with just one delectable bite. This Tea Barmbrack is full of boozy soaked raisins, sultanas, currants and dates. And it has that Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze. Pure ambrosia I tell you! One taste and you will be hooked!

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So which one should you choose? That’s a hard one. I thought they both were pretty scrumptious. The yeasted one takes a little longer to make when you factor in all of the rise times, but if you love yeast bread, that might be your winner. The Tea Barmbrack is a one bowl wonder and doesn’t require any rise times. Hmmm…decisions, decisions. Rest assured there is no wrong choice. They are both winners and will be a great complement to your St. Patrick’s Day table.

Get the Recipe for Barmbrack Bread (Yeasted Version)

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Get the Recipe for Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

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Enjoy!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a brand spanking new recipe for Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting. Bet that’s got you drooling!


The Model Bakery’s English Muffins

February 1, 2016

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Here it is…February already. It seems the Husband and I made it through the recent blizzard event, lovingly dubbed “Snowzilla” relatively unscathed. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is on the way. Groundhog Day is nigh!

One extraordinary rodent!

One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only folks celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 5th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Five years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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I’ve posted some tasty “Anniversary Edition” recipes since then as well like Banana Rum Muffins:

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And last year I was able to successfully bake up a genuine Crack Pie!

IMG_0897So the pressure was on to pick a great dish to share on this my 5th Year blogging and I definitely have a winner for you: The Model Bakery’s English Muffins!

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I mean who doesn’t love an English Muffin? With all of those delightful nooks and crannies, it’s just the perfect vehicle for lashings of salty butter and sweet fruity jam. Seems I’m not alone in my adoration of the muffin. Folks have been enjoying these for a long, long while. Certainly you’ve heard the traditional English nursery rhyme “The Muffin Man”

Oh Do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane?

In Victorian England folks were able to have fresh “muffins” delivered right to their door by a fellow known as….you guessed it, The Muffin Man. In 1874, Samuel Bath Thomas moved from Plymouth England to New York City. Once there he set up a bakery and began selling what he called “toaster crumpets”. They were similar to English crumpets but were thinner and pre-sliced. He was the founder of Thomas’s English Muffins which are still sold in many groceries today.41g0DUQLjuL

And whilst I’m thankful to Mr. Thomas, having enjoyed the convenience of easily buying a packet of English Muffins, whenever the mood struck me, I’ve got tell you…those store-bought muffins don’t really hold a candle to these homemade gems! Oh Good Lawd above! Once you taste these big honking, tender, moist & fluffy Homemade Muffins, you’ll be hooked. Sooooo worth the effort. You’ll never be found in the Muffin aisle of your local grocery again. (Sorry Mr. Thomas!)

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Now there are many recipes out there for homemade English Muffins, but this one from the Model Bakery reigns supreme! There is a reason their muffins were featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate. The Model Bakery has been open in Napa for over 80 years. Dedicated to authentic artisan baking traditions, they specialize in Artisan Breads but also will tempt you with a complete range of pastry products. And if you’re not planning on visiting Napa anytime soon, they not only mail order some of their delicious baked goods, but have also published a great cookbook: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery , so that you can bake them at home. I’m telling you these muffins are just heavenly. Larger than your usual English Muffin, they bake up wonderfully fluffy and light as a cloud, yet are substantial enough to hold up to any breakfast sandwich you might send their way.

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And with this dough, you don’t have to fiddle around with any old-fashioned muffin rings. You cook them up on a griddle, completely free form.  If you can resist eating the whole dozen in one sitting, a feat of self-restraint that would definitely be worthy of admiration, I’m glad to say these little darlings freeze well, allowing you to have these awesome muffins on hand at the drop of a hat! So what are you waiting for…

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The Model Bakery's English Muffins

  • Servings: 12 Muffins
  • Difficulty: easy, but several steps and dough rising times to be factored in
  • Print

From: The Model Bakery Cookbook

Special thanks to Steven & Julie, fellow baking enthusiasts, for sharing this killer recipe with me!

Ingredients:

For the Biga:

  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml water
  • 1/2 cup/ 75g bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant (also called quick-rising or bread machine) yeast

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups / 315 ml water
  • 3/4 tsp instant (also called quick-rising or bread machine) yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups/ 510g unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup/ 35g yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 6 tablespoons melted Clarified Butter (recipe follows) as needed

Directions:

To make the biga: At least 1 day before cooking the muffins, combine the flour, water, and yeast in a small bowl to make a sticky dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. The biga will rise slightly.

To make the dough: Combine the biga, water, yeast, olive oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Affix the bowl to the mixer and fi t with the paddle attachment. Mix on low-speed until the mixture looks creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in 3 cups/435 g of the flour to make a soft, sticky dough. Turn off the mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand for 20 minutes. (To make by hand, combine the water, biga, yeast, oil, and salt in a large bowl and break up the biga with a wooden spoon. Stir until the biga dissolves. Mix in enough flour to make a cohesive but tacky dough. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.)

Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely cleans the mixer bowl. Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed (if the dough climbs up the hook, just pull it down) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface to check its texture. It should feel tacky but not stick to the work surface. (To make by hand, knead on a floured work surface, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and feels tacky, about 10 minutes.)

Shape the dough into a ball. Oil a medium bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil, leaving the dough smooth-side up. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until almost doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (The dough can also be refrigerated for 8 to 12 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding to the next step.)

Using a bowl scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut into twelve equal pieces. Shape each into a 4-in/10-cm round. Sprinkle an even layer of cornmeal over a half-sheet pan. Place the rounds on the cornmeal about 1 in/2.5 cm apart. Turn the rounds to coat both sides with cornmeal. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until the rounds have increased in volume by half and a finger pressed into a round leaves an impression for a few seconds before filling up, about 1 hour.

Melt 2 Tbsp of the clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat until melted and hot, but not smoking. In batches, add the dough rounds to the skillet. Cook, adjusting the heat as needed so the muffins brown without scorching, adding more clarified butter as needed. The undersides should be nicely browned, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook until the other sides are browned and the muffins are puffed, about 6 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel–lined half-sheet pan and let cool. (It will be tempting to eat these hot off the griddle, but let them stand for at least 20 minutes to complete the cooking with carry-over heat.) Repeat with the remaining muffins, wiping the cornmeal out of the skillet with paper towels and adding more clarified butter as needed.

Split each muffin in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Toast in a broiler or toaster oven (they may be too thick for a standard toaster) until lightly browned. Serve hot. (The muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

To make the clarified butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until completely melted and boiling. Cook until the butter stops sputtering, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the surface of the butter.

Line a wire sieve with dampened, wrung-out cheesecloth and place over a medium bowl. Carefully pour the clear, yellow melted butter through the sieve, leaving the milky residue behind in the saucepan. (Discard the residue.) Pour into a small container and cover. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Psssst: If you can’t be bothered making your own clarified butter, you can just go buy some Ghee off the supermarket shelf or order on Amazon!)

Enjoy!

The Model Bakery’s English Muffins brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Helpful Links to Kitchen Tools & Ingredients I used in making these English Muffins:

So this is a new feature I’m adding to my blog. Below you will find a list of Amazon Links to some of the Kitchen Tools and Ingredients which may not be found in your local grocery store, that I used in making the above recipe. You certainly don’t have to order them from Amazon if you’d prefer not to, but you can at least take a look at them there and then proceed as you wish. You also might be able to make the recipe perfectly well without any of these tools, but I use them and feel they make things much easier for me.

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Le Creuset 11 3/4″ Cast Iron Frying Pan

Ghee (Clarified Butter)

 


Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze (Non yeasted version) Battle of the Bracks -Part 2

October 28, 2015

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Here we go! Day two of the Battle of the Bracks. Today we are considering Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze. (Yup…I said “Whiskey Honey Butter”….don’t know about you, but that alone sounds like the stuff of dreams!) As I mentioned yesterday in my post about Irish Barmbrack Bread, Barmbrack is a tradition Halloween Treat in Ireland. And it is rather appropriate that we look to Ireland for Halloween goodies, since Halloween actually has Celtic origins. Our modern Halloween celebrations are derived from the Celtic holiday of Samhain. Samhain was Celtic New Year. It was a harvest festival which marked the dying of the sun-god and a turning to the colder, dormant half of the year. On this night, the Celts believed the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its lowest point. The dead could more easily travel back over to our side, and if we weren’t careful, we could accidentally wander over in to their world and be trapped-a good reason to stay close to home and bonfires, no doubt! This belief likely gave rise to our Halloween legends of ghosts, ghouls and witches wandering about on this night in particular. Roaming spirits aside, Halloween was also a time for divination and that is where Barmbrack came in. This bread was actually used in an ancient fortune telling ritual. When a loaf of this bread was baked, several different trinkets or charms which had been wrapped in parchment paper were added into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. Feel free to add whatever trinkets you prefer to your bread. Most commercial loaves baked today only contain one ring.

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Now that the history lesson has ended, it must be time for the Brack review. I found this Irish Tea Barmbrack to be quite a charmer! (har har). It will definitely make you change your mind about fruit cakes without a doubt. It is really dense, boozy and bursting with fruit. And that Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze? Pure ambrosia I tell you! One taste and you will be hooked! And if all that wasn’t good enough, this bread is a one bowl wonder. You do have to remember to start the fruit soaking in the tea/whiskey bath the night before, but after that you just add all the ingredients to the soaking bowl, mix ’em up and pour them in the baking tin. Super easy!!! Which is just what I need right now because my house is still somewhere midst deconstruction/construction. Kind of has that perfect urban decay/ Halloween vibe come to think of it. Bottom line – the husband and I really like both Bracks and were it not for that Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze the yeasted version would have won easily. But well that amazing glaze is there for consideration. This has led us straight down the road to indecision! Not that I’m complaining at all since I now have two tasty loaves of bread that I can just keep sampling under the guise of trying to decide between them. So I’ll leave the judging up to you. If you have an opinion – yeasted vs. non – I’d love to hear from you in the Battle of the Bracks!

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Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

  • Servings: 1 5x9 Loaf of Bread
  • Difficulty: Very Easy!
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Edible Ireland 

You can use whatever fruit you would like in this bread, ie. all raisins, or substitute in some mixed candied peel, cranberries or glacé cherries if you prefer. Also if you would rather not use any whiskey in your bread (glad you can’t see the look of horror on my face right now…) you can soak the fruit in 1 1/4 cup tea and just leave it out of the glaze.

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 100 g (3/4 cup) raisins
  • 100 g (3/4 cup) sultanas
  • 100 g (3/4 cup) currants
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) chopped dates
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 250 ml (1 cup) hot, strong black tea
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) Irish Whiskey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 225 g (1 3/4 cups) self-raising flour
  • 200 g (1 1/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon mixed spice

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Put the raisins, sultanas, currants, dates in a large bowl, one that’s big enough to accommodate all the ingredients later on. Pour over the tea and whiskey and allow the fruit to soak for at least 30 minutes or even overnight. (overnight is better!)

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 1 lb (5″x 9″) loaf tin with parchment paper or spray with non-stick baking spray.

Add in the lemon zest, beaten egg, flour, sugar and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well until everything is just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for about 1- 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Place tin on wire rack to cool while you prepare glaze.

Place all glaze ingredients in sauce pan and heat over low heat. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for several minutes until it reduces slightly. Set aside to cool until warm.

Remove the warm bread from the baking tin and place on parchment paper. Once glaze has cooled to warm, paint bread all over with glaze in several passes, allowing time for it to be absorbed before adding the next wash.

Enjoy!

Irish Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


Irish Barmbrack Bread (Yeasted version) – Part I of the Battle of the Bracks!

October 27, 2015

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I can’t believe it! Halloween is nearly upon us!!! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween and am happy to see it here. It is pretty much my favourite holiday. I mean what’s there not to like…dressing up in funny clothes, partaking in a few tricks and treats, eating tons of candy and washing it down with even more booze. Woohoo! Bring me more holidays like that! It just kind of crept up on me….which is exactly what you’d expect from Halloween I guess. Today I thought I’d share a recipe for a Halloween treat that is traditionally eaten in Ireland – Barmbrack or as it is also known Báirín Breac. Breac means “speckled” which this bread definitely is, being shot through with whiskey and tea soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries. Báirín can either be the word for “loaf” which would make sense since that would make its name be “speckled loaf” in English. However, I’ve also come across the theory that Barm is derived from the word “beorma”, which refers to a fermented liquor which would have been used back in the day to rise the cake.

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Barmbrack is a bit sweeter than your average sandwich bread but it is not as rich as a cake. It was traditionally baked up on Halloween as part of an ancient fortune-telling ritual. Yup. Several different trinkets or charms (perhaps the origin of that “lucky charm” bit…) were wrapped in parchment paper and baked  into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. I chose not to include any trinkets in my bread. I’m a bit wary of any divination. Even a fortune cookie gives me pause. But feel free to partake as you will! Many Bracks sold commercially today still include a ring, though none of the other lucky charms.

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When I set out to make Barmbrack, I quickly discovered that there were two different types of the bread to be found, a yeasted version and a non-yeasted version which was more like a tea bread. I couldn’t decide which one I should do, so I chose to do both and hold a sort of “Battle of the Bracks” to see which one we preferred. Today I’m going to give you the yeasted version and make sure you check back tomorrow, because I’ll be telling you all about the tea bread version. I found the yeasted Barmbrack to be delicious – light, airy, slightly sweet and spicy (in a nutmeg/cinnamon/clove kind of way – not my usual set your tongue alight kind of way.) It was lovely still warm from the oven, but even better I think when toasted and slathered in butter! Now the downside to this bread is that being a yeast bread, there is a bit of a time commitment here. Both Bracks require that the fruit be soaked in a whiskey/tea mixture overnight. But this loaf also requires 2 rising times as well as all of the kneading that is necessary to incorporate the fruit. Now I would say it was totally worth all the effort. But you should keep in mind that pretty much every yeast bread out there makes me swoon and upon the first bite I forget how much work went into making it. And although this bread is usually served as a Halloween treat, I’m sure no one would be sorry to see it turn up on the table any time of the year. And with its Irish pedigree, it might even make a lovely addition to your St. Patrick’s Day table. Make sure you check back in tomorrow to hear all about the challenger in this Battle of the Bracks – Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Butter Honey Glaze!

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Irish Barmbrack Bread

  • Servings: 1 large loaf
  • Difficulty: fairly easy - but keep in mind there is an overnight soak for the fruit as well as two rising times for the dough
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recipe adapted from: Seasons and Suppers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 2 cups strong brewed black tea
  • 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
  • 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon dry active or instant yeast
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • milk and Demerara sugar for brushing over the top

Directions:

Brew 2 cups of hot tea and allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey. Place the fruit in a medium glass bowl and pour tea/whiskey mixture over it. Stir and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to soak on the counter overnight.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine 4 cups of the flour, spices, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. With a pastry cutter or your fingers (or with the paddle attachment on your mixer), work in the butter in to the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. (If you are using dry active yeast, rather than instant yeast, add it to the lukewarm milk – which will be detailed in the following step – and allow it to  proof for 5 minutes before adding it to the dough.)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat warm the milk to 110° F – 115°F. Beat the egg into the milk and then stir into the dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon or switch to the kneading hook on a stand mixer. Knead by hand or with the kneading hook until dough starts to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl (adding more flour in small increments, as necessary).

Drain the raisins and add to the dough. I know this sounds pretty easy, but this is likely the most difficult bit of this recipe! Don’t lose heart though, all of that fruit will eventually get mixed in. Sprinkling a bit of flour over the well drained fruit does make it a bit easier to incorporate it.  Work the fruit in, adding a bit more flour as necessary, until you have a smooth dough that is not sticky.

Remove dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size.

Grease an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or baking pan and pre-heat oven to 400° F.

Turn risen dough out on to a floured surface. Press lightly to de-gas, then form in to a round by pinching the dough underneath. Place dough round in to prepared pan. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 30 minutes more.

Brush top of bread with milk or cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then check the bread. If it is nicely browned, cover top loosely with a piece of tinfoil, then continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes or so, or until an internal temperature of about 195°F about 40 – 50 minutes total. Let cool completely before cutting into slices.

Enjoy!

Irish Barmbrack Bread Brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


Banana Honey Cornbread

August 27, 2015

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What do we have here? A bread which combines two tastes the husband and I just adore…bananas and cornbread. It is wonderfully flavorful and quite moist and tender. Sweetened with honey and just a sprinkling of Demerara sugar, it is great along with a cup of tea or coffee to start the day or equally well enjoyed as an afternoon snack.

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The cornmeal gives this bread a much heartier texture than many banana breads out there, yet it still has a soft and tender crumb. The crust is crispy when it first comes out of the oven, but after it has been wrapped and stored for the night, it mellows to become more moist. And with honey being the only sweetener, besides that little bit of sprinkled sugar on top, this loaf is slightly sweet, much more bread like than dessert like. That being said, it is pretty versatile. If you do happen to have a real sweet tooth, this bread is the perfect vehicle for a dollop of honey butter, or whatever other jam or jelly you might desire. I have even topped a slice of it with fresh berries and whipped cream and served it for dessert! The husband was really happy with this bread and proclaimed it to be just what “I always wanted Banana Bread to be”. I couldn’t really ask for a better review than that! So the next time you have a couple of bananas that are getting a bit long in the tooth, mix up a batch of this Banana Honey Cornbread. You will be delighted!

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Banana Honey Cornbread

  • Servings: one 8x4 inch loaf of bread
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Peas And Crayons

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup super-ripe banana, packed [about 2 medium bananas]
  • 2 Tablespoon room temperature coconut oil
  • ½ cup milk – room temperature
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
  • 2 large eggs -room temperature (not kidding here…room temperature! If you add right out of the fridge cold eggs to room temperature coconut oil it will seize up to a gloppy mess!)
  • Demerara sugar to sprinkle over top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.In a large bowl, mix together bananas, milk, coconut oil, honey and vanilla.

Add two slightly beaten eggs to the wet mixture and mix with a fork to incorporate.

Slowly add the cornmeal/flour mixture in; sifting in three batches. Do not over mix the batter or the bread will be tough. Mix only until the dry mixture is just combined. The batter should be slightly sticky.

Spoon into a greased 8×4″ loaf pan, sprinkle Demerara sugar over the top and place atop a baking sheet in the oven.

Next reduce the heat from 400°F to 350°F and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Banana Honey Cornbread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


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