Friday, October 10, 2008

Pear Bread

This is a fabulous, moist and delicious quick bread. Perfect for a snack or with tea. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of this bread at this time, but I did say I'd post the recipe for it when I gave Nancy and Elena a loaf for themselves the last time I did my radio show for Beyond The Ordinary. I promise the next time I make it I'll add a picture to this post. :)

Pear Bread with walnuts (you could leave out the walnuts, but I would recomend them, as this bread has a mild flavor, since pears aren't the strongest tasting fruit.)

makes 1 loaf

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled pears
3/4 cup chopped walnuts-optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Combine the sugar and oil in a large bowl and beat well with an electric mixer for best results.
Add eggs and beat well.
Beat in sour cream and vanilla.
Sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Beat into the sour cream mixture in 2 batches. Stir in pears and walnuts.
Scrape into loaf pan and level off the top.
Bake for 1 hour and test with a toothpick in the center.
If done, remove and let cool on a rack for 20 minutes.
Turn out onto rack and cool completly.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” -James Beard

I love bread, and I love baking breads of all kinds. Of course, I love eating delicious bread, that goes without saying, but baking bread is a whole experience. It's getting your hands dirty, and being a part of the bread when you knead it, and the smell it imparts on your kitchen, is nothing short of heaven.

Unfortunately, many good cooks find bread making elusive. While it is an art, it is also an exact science. If you add too much or too little of this or that, it may result in disaster. Whereas with cooking a stew, you add what suits you, or what you think it needs. A luxury not afforded to the baker.

Well, I'm here to say give it a try! Once you get good at it and find a recipe you like, you may be like a friend of mine who bakes 6 loaves of Italian bread at once and freezes what she won't use within a few days.

Irish soda bread is a good bread to try if you've never baked bread. The recipe is simple and straightforward, even a child could manage it. It has no yeast, and unlike most breads, once you get the ingredients together, you bake it right away, there's no waiting. The breads crust is coarse and firm, the inside is dense and moist. It lends itself particularly well to mopping up a stew, or simply toasted with butter.

Here's a recipe I use. (Most recipes call for buttermilk, I prefer using yogurt.

Irish Soda Bread

This recipe makes 1 loaf a little over a pound and a half
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oats. Quick or Old fashioned, not instant
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • Milk if needed
1. Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl mix all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until fine crumbs form. Stir in whole wheat and oats.

2. Add yogurt, stir gently. If mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, just until dough holds together. It should not be sticky

.3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead gently 5 times to make a ball. Set onto lightly greased baking sheet, or baking sheet lined with a Silpat liner, or parchment paper.Pat dough into a 7 inch circle. With a knife cut a large x on top of loaf

.4. Bake in 375 degree oven until well browned, about 45 minutes.Cool on a rack.

"[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Coconut Cookies

These are my husbands favorite cookie. I like them because they are very simple and straightforward to make. They are a bit crisp on the outside, and chewy inside. Like a good chocolate chip cookie. Only if you make cookies all the time like I do, it's nice to try new and yummy ideas.

1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1-2 cups macadamia nuts, chopped -optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until smooth.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour, baking soda and salt. Once that is incorporated add the coconut. Drop dough by teaspoonful onto baking sheets covered with parchment paper or a Silpat a few inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies