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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration. Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.
Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless “bread” to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients. The Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard.

What a delightfully Christmassy challenge this was! I really enjoyed it! Alot of the process of making stollen is waiting around, which actually suited me quite well over the last few weeks as it was doing its thing in the background (proving, resting, baking) while I was busy with other Christmas preparations.

I admit to tweaking the recipe to suit my tastes. I despise mixed peel, so there was no way it was making the cut. I made the original dough (of which I used half to make the traditional stollen wreath) with dried cranberries, and I used the remaining half of the dough to make 2 stollen loaves, adding sultanas and currants. This recipe has been a bit hit with all who have tasted it. It has a lovely spicy Christmas flavour, and is especially delicious toasted with real butter.

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Another bank holiday weekend over!  Can you believe the next proper ‘break’ from work is Christmas? Is it too early to even type the word ‘Christmas’? And it was so dark when the alarm went off this morning!  I think I need to move to California! 🙂  I do love baking this time of year though: tasty fruit pies and crumbles, spiced cakes and shortbreads, the smell of Christmas wafting about the kitchen (recipe for Christmas puddings coming soon!) and freshly baked scones, still warm from the oven with real butter melting over them. Yum!

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Brown Soda Bread

An Irish person’s favourite brown bread seems to be a very personal thing. There are so many different recipes and methods to produce the ultimate brown soda bread. Some recipes use all whole meal flour, some use a mix of wholemeal and plain flour. Some add a little sweetness, some prefer to stay savoury with just salt. Some recipes add an egg, some add buttermilk and some use yoghurt. Some even add Guinness or treacle to give a darker crumb.

And I am fickle. I change my mind alot about the type of brown bread I prefer. This recipe is my current favourite. I like to use buttermilk to bind the mixture together. There are times I can’t be bothered fiddling around with loaf tins, so I like that this is a solid dough that bakes on a simple baking sheet. I add wheat germ and bran and oats to give a bit of texture. I also like seeds in bread, but I leave them out here as it’s a drier bread recipe – I like to mix seeds through a wetter mixture.

So, for now, this is the brown soda bread I bake at least once a week.

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Savoury Cornbread

When we were in San Francisco last February, we ate breakfast out alot. Our hotel’s boring buffet option seemed less exciting than the random diners with good coffee dotted around the surrounding blocks. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, home fries, fruit (well not so much). At one of these delicious breakfasts (at some ungodly hour of the morning – hello jetlag!) we opted for cornbread with our eggs & bacon. The salty, savoury-ness of the bread goes so well breakfasty food, like dipping into a runny egg yolk. Yum. So this weekend, I tried to recreate some of our San Fran breakfast experience with some homemade cornbread.

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Blueberry Bread

So I ran out of time for the Daring Bakers’ Challenge this month. 😦  I can’t believe it. In my defence, I was *sure* there was another weekend left in June. There isn’t. I was away last week taking laser measurements and attending a summer school, and I visited my parents for the first time in months, and then suddenly it was challenge posting date. Dammit! You can read all about the Chocolate Pavlova challenge, download the recipe and gaze at all the fabulous creations on the Daring Kitchen webpage. The challenge-setter, Dawn, has a really lovely blog, Doable and Delicious, which also deserves a visit. Thanks for challenge Dawn, and sorry I missed it! I vow to get stuck into next month’s challenge as early in July as possible.

Here’s a recipe I tried out a couple of weeks ago. There’s something quite cakey about this blueberry bread.  But bread sounds healthier than cake, and there’s even wholewheat flour in there. So, yes, let’s stick with blueberry bread. I combined fresh and frozen blueberries in this recipe. This is really due to a need to clear out the freezer a bit, but the frozen blueberries exploded during baking and went all gooey, so it all worked out delightfully in the end. A nice mid-afternoon snack to get the sugar levels up a bit. Also good smothered with strawberry jam, served with a hot cup of tea.

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