Friday, March 22, 2013

Irish Soda Bread & City Vistas

I may not have posted this in time for St. Paddy's Day, but I definitely made it and ate it in time for the holiday. 
 I love continually exploring the city in which I live. Last weekend we had some pretty, if a bit cool, weather so I trundled across the bridge to Fort Baker and took some photos as I strolled. 
I also love a good carrier for warm butter and jam so endeavored to make my first loaf of soda bread. I kind of merged two different recipes to make this, in an effort to use up a variety of ingredients that I have laying around (bread flour, currants, golden raisins). The bread was easy and tasty and I'm not usually one to say this, but it was almost nice when it got a little stale because it meant that I could slice it and toast it and bring it back to life with some butter and a nice dollop of homemade apricot preserves - mmmm.
 To make: Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment. Pour a cup of boiling water of 1 cup of raisins and/or currants, let sit. Combine 4 cups bread flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium bowl. Cut in 1/2 stick chilled butter.In a separate bowl beat together 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, 1 large egg, and the zest of 1 orange. Slowly add the wet mixture into the dry, stirring until combined. Dough will be wet/sticky. Drain the currants and then add them into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead a few times. Shape into a round, place on the prepared baking sheet and cut a plus sign into the top of the dough. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and has a hollow sound to it. Best eaten with lots of butter. P.S. I would have loved to put caraway seeds in this but I didn't have any and Trader Joe's doesn't carry them. . . and that's where my industriousness petered out.
 For Ina Garten's version of this recipe click here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Frosty Quest - Apple Spice Cake

I don’t like to show up empty handed to events, and since I can’t afford much in the way of nice bottles of wine, I try to come up with something tasty to make (plus, it means I can make things that I feel too guilty eating all by myself—I pretend it’s okay when I share it). This cake was a particular ordeal—I decided I would make it,  but made a deal with myself that I would not bother making my own frosting and would just buy some. Well, that sounds simple enough, but apparently small grocery stores don’t value sugary cream cheese frosting enough, because NONE of them carried it. So, I figured I would find a grocery store on the way to my friends' place to grab some. 
After stopping at two more stores and coming up empty I was beginning to get panicky, but I knew there was one more possibility between where we were in the car and my friends’ house. We swerved to pull over, I darted in feeling confident as I enter the baking aisle . . . zippo, nada, no cream cheese frosting. So I did what any hungry, desperate person would do – I spent $12 on a packet of cream cheese and a tub of betty crocker vanilla frosting – et voila! Homemade cream cheese frosting. Well worth it too – the cake was moist and delicious and perfectly complimented by the sugary mixture – vanilla would not have done.
For my take on the recipe scroll down, for the original version care of Dorie Greenspan click here.