Irish Soda Bread, er, Tea Cake

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I tried a new ciambella recipe a while back, and found myself thinking, “hey, ciambella is like Italian Irish soda bread!” Which of course planted that seed and here we are. I’d never actually eaten or made Irish soda bread until a couple of years ago. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the actual loaf was nothing like I’d envisioned. Imagine a giant, moist scone. With currants and orange zest. (Unless of course you are a soda bread purist, in which case you will insist that including fruits actually make it a tea cake. ) Regardless of nomenclature, let’s settle on delicious. This freezes great. It’s easy to make, and even more fun to give to the neighbors. No one cooks anymore, so home made things always elicit the most enthusiastic responses in my experience. And this is easy-peasy!
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I like to use currants instead of raisins simply because they’re smaller, so you get lots of little raisin bites instead of big blobs of raisin. I also like to soak my currants in hot water with a little vanilla before I start to bake with them. It adds a nice dimension and texture to the flavor profile. So, you’ll need some almost speciality ingredients for this – currants, buttermilk, real sweet cream butter. Because those ARE the flavor of the bread, using the real deal will make a significant difference. I will even go so far as to say if you don’t plan to use real butter, you shouldn’t plan on making this. It is that important.
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This is roughly fifteen minutes to get in the oven, then you just have to wait. Oh, and have a house that smells awesome. Once it’s cool, slice yourself a big chunk and enjoy it with even more butter slathered on it, along with some orange marmelade or honey and lovely strong cup of Irish breakfast tea with milk and sugar. MMMMM. Heaven!
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Irish Soda Bread
In a heat-safe bowl, stir together and set aside:
1 c. currants
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water
Preheat the oven to 375*. Line the base of an 8” round cake pan with parchment.
In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix to combine:
4 c. AP flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. table salt

Slice ½ a stick of butter in to its 4 tablespoons, and toss it in the dry. (Yes, cold.) mix on medium until it looks like bread crumbs.
In a another bowl or 2-4 c. pyrex measuring cup (because spouts! yeah!) , whisk together:
1 large egg
1 ¾ c. buttermilk
Zest of one orange (about 2 Tbsp.)

Drain the currants. Toss them and the liquid in to the flour and just barely mix it together.
Flour your board (counter) and dump the dough mixture out. Just barely work it until you have a nice ball.
Set the ball in the lined pan. With a sharp knife, mark a deep (like a ½” deep cut) cross or X on the top of the ball.
Bake around 50 minutes. It should be a deep dark brown and sound hollow when you thunk it.
Definitely let this cool all the way before slicing it, or you will have a big pile of chunky crumbs. And, when you do slice it, make them thick ¾” – 1” slices; slices too thin will just fall apart. Or, you could just make wedge slices.
This is truly a delight – not too sweet, full of buttery orangey goodness with lots of little currants. YUM!

Cranberry Orange Loaf Cake

There are certain flavor combinations that just make me so happy. Roast beef and horseradish. Goat cheese and roasted beets. Hard boiled eggs with balsamic vinaigrette. Lemon and blueberry. And, cranberry with orange. 

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I was *so* excited to see the cranberries had arrived at Costco last week. I wish I had room in my freezer to buy like three bags. They keep a long time in there! Of course, I immediately wanted to make C-O scones. But, you know, that’d be attempt number three and even for my obsessive nature it was a bit much. So, the interwebs led me to lots of possible recipes. Saw one at the Oceanspray site and thought, alright alright alright. That should be reputable……

 

 

This was one of those “oh, shit!” recipes. You know, where have something started or in process and there is a critical problem? I had measured out and mixed all the dry and was getting ready to add the fat – in this case, butter – when I saw it called for 4 tablespoons.  For four cups of flour and two of sugar. Plus a cup of orange juice and a couple of eggs. Holy shit. This was going to be a seriously dry log – something to make a ciambella look like a pudding. Fuck a duck. So, I had to scramble for similar recipes and found a blueberry lemon cake to base the. uh, mid-recipe adjustment needed to not wind up with a giant dry crumb from the oven. 

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….Himself, looking over my shoulder, “well, that looks like a bowl of whalp.” Feel the love, people. Feel the love.

Even with the addition of more butter, more buttermilk and egg, this batter was still so stiff it held the beater in position when I popped the bowl off the kitchenaide.

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Once it came out of the oven, I knew things worked out. It tastes great – so, whew! Crisis averted. And, wtf Oceanspray?

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This is a lovely tea cake, buttery with a tender crumb, a sweet citrusy glaze and the zam! pow! tartness of those fresh cranberries.  You are really going to enjoy this one! Have it with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, or dress it up with some orange whipped cream and a cranberry coulis for dessert. YUM!
For the cake
3 c. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
4 c AP flour
2 c sugar
zest of an entire orange (about 3Tbsp)
1 c butter
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1.25 c buttermilk
juice from the orange (about 1/4c)
1 tsp vanilla
For the glaze
zest and juice of one orange
1.5-2 c powdered sugar
Instructions
Chop the cranberries coarsely.
Mix in the mixer bowl the flour, sugar, zest, salt and leavening.
Add in the butter, mix on medium.
When the dry/fat mix looks like coarse cornmeal, stop the mixer. Pour in the wet. Just barely spin the beater a couple of times to mix. Stop.
Pour in the chopped cranberries, and again just barely spin the beater to mix them in.
Split this VERY thick batter between the two pans, and bake 60-70 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
Let cool ten or fifteen minutes while you make the glaze.
Combine the juice, zest and powdered sugar in a bowl and get out a pastry brush. It should be the consistency of crepe batter (or elmer’s glue if you’ve not made crepes.)
When the pans are just cool enough to touch, get a butterknife, and slide it down and along the sides of the cakes to make sure all the sides (and especially the corners!) are loosened and not stuck. Then whack the sides of the pan with you hand to make sure that puppy is ready to pop out and gently depan the cake. (I usually put my clean silicone oven mit across the top, invert it, lift off the pan and then set the cake on the cooling rack.)
Once you’ve got them both on the rack, put a cookie sheet underneath it. Use the pastry brush to brush away any loose crumb.
Pur about a ¼ of the icing on each cake and work wicked quick with the pastry brush to sloppily coat the top and sides with the glaze. Now, let the cakes cool. Cover the remaining glaze with some cellophane and go read some food blogs for an hour or two. When the cakes are cool, artfully drip the remaining glaze on each. You can sprinkle garnish on top of this glaze if you like (candied orange peel, sparkle or pearl sugar, colored sugars or sprinkles). Once the glaze dries, you can wrap these puppies in wax paper, or slice and devour. This will freeze beautifully.
Notes
This makes two 9″x5″ or four 8″x3″ loaves.

serves 16
calories 408
fat 13g
cholesterol 79mg
sodium 376mg
carbs 67g
-fiber 2g
-sugars 41g
protein 6g

Fig Orange Scones with Toasted Hazelnuts

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What’s this? A scone post on the Yum? Inconceivable!

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I was wondering how this flavor combination would work, so thought we’d give it a whirl.

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The answer? Delicious.

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 Honestly, if I make these again I think I’ll soak the fig slices for a few minutes in some warm water with the spices, orange zest and vanilla.  Himself said, “What?! Not brandy?” But the fact that he’s a smart ass is why I love him.

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Autumn is coming. Time for some scones. 

For the wet
1 ¼ c buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
For the dry
3 c flour
3/8 c sugar
1.5 sticks butter
2 tsp bkg pwd
¾ tsp bkg soda
1/2 tsp salt
For the fruit
1 c. cut dried black fibgs, quarterd and tossed with
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
zest of half an orange
For the glaze
2 c pwd sugar
zest of half an orange
juice of 1 orange
For the topping
1 c. chopped toasted hazelnuts
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375*.
Line a cookie tray with parchment.
Flour your work surface.
In a small bowl, whisk together the wet.
In a larger bowl, mix the dry.
Cut in the butter to the dry ingredients. A pastry cutter will yield a flakier scone; a food processor or mixer will yield a cakier one.
Add the fruit.
Barely combine the wet in to the dry/fruit mixture.
Turn contents on to floured board and gently, just barely knead it to a dough.
Split dough, shape each half half in to a 7″ disc about 1″ high.
With a sharp, floured knife, slice each disc in to 8 or so wedges.
Place the scones about 1″ apart on the lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20mins, until golden.
While baking, whisk together the glaze.
*Immediately* after removing the scones from the oven, brush them with 1/2 the glaze.
Allow them to mostly cool, then brush with the second layer of glaze and immediately top with the chopped nuts.
Notes
(if I do this again, I want to soak the fig slices in warm water with the spices, vanilla & some orange)

serves 18
calories 312
fat 13
cholesterol 32mg
sodium 138mg
carbs 46g
-fiber 2g
-sugars 28g
protein 4g

Cranberry Sweet Rolls

I’ve been eyeing this recipe at Smitten Kitchen for ages, and finally took the plunge. The fact that I still have a shit ton of cranberries in the jumbo Costco bag in the freezer has nothing to do with this decision. Nothing, I tell you. mmmmm

mmmmm

What made me most want to try this (besides the fact that they look soooo good), is the overnight-in-the-fridge-bake-in-the-morning part.

How they looked this morning before going in...
How they looked this morning before going in…

 

....and with some glaze after they came out.
….and with some glaze after they came out.

 

I am lucky to have an oven with a “proof” setting. Although the original recipe said to set them out for a half hour then bake, they looked kind of puny when I took them out of the fridge. So, I set them in proof for 45 minutes, and am glad of it.

I swear yeast doughs always feel miraculous, don't they?
I swear yeast doughs always feel miraculous, don’t they?

 

When I make these again, I will add more orange. And let the dough stay stickier than I thought it should.  Her recipe is here.

Tangy cranberry swirled in a rich brioche. Yum.
Tangy Cranberry Swirled in a rich brioche. Yum.

Make some!!

 

 

Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette; or, Keeping Your Resolutions with Leftovers

So, yeah. The holidays. Finally our season of overindulgence has ended. But, I still have stuff hanging about: blue cheese, cranberry sauce, glazed pecans. … …. Mmmm, that would be really yummy in a salad. 

Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette

 

This is pretty simple stuff:

Cranberry and Orange

 

Toss the leftover cranberry, orange juice and zest, some dijon, cider vinegar and olive oil in the blender and away we go!

Cranberry Vinagrette and Salad
Ingredients
1/3 c. leftover orange cranberry sauce
Zest of half and orange
Juice of one orange
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/3 c. cider vinegar
2/3 c. olive oil
dash S & P
Sugar, to taste.
Instructions
Put everything but the olive oil in the blender.
Purée until smooth.
Taste, add sugar if you’d like it sweeter. (or honey, or agave, etc.)
Leave the blender on, and drizzle in the olive oil until you have a gorgeous hot pink emulsion.
Stores in the fridge for a couple weeks.

Servings 8
Calories 189
Fat 18 g
Sodium 12 mg
Carbs 7 g
Protein 0 g

Walnut Black Pepper Biscotti

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Anybody out there old enough to remember SOAR? The Berkeley Searchable Online Archive of Recipes, that has since become RecipeSource? It was (is) this wonderful place created to preserve family recipes, back before the explosion of the interwebs and when you still *really* needed cookbooks.  I used to read that for fun – they have it sorted by geographic region and ethnic groups. It was a fascinating place to browse.  So, back when dirt was new and I wanted a good biscotto, that was where I went to look and found this marvelous recipe and printed it out on my dot matrix printer. And saved that paper for years. These are fantastic biscotti – crunchy, but not so hard they break your teeth. Dippable without disintegrating – truly a work of art. 

I eventually lost that recipe, and despaired. But was saved by our Google Overlords. I found it again at Cooks.com (because for the life of me I cannot find it again at Recipe Source – weird, I know.) Biscotti are pretty damn easy to make, and have a big wow factor. Although I swear anything that isn’t a chocolate chip cookie seems to have a big wow factor because no one cooks any more. But, hey – that’s why I blog!! Shall we?

Cream the butter and sugar.

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Add the eggs and vanilla.

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Sift your flour with the salt and leavening, grind the pepper and zest the orange.  

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Chop the nuts. Please forgive me, I apparently saved the shot of the chopped hazelnuts for another recipe and not the walnuts – but we’ll include them here just for continuity.

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Mix in the dry and the nuts. 

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Flour your hands and make a log.

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Bake it, cool it and slice it in even pieces. Save the biscotti butts for taster-testing. 

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Bake ’em a second time (that’s the bis to the cotto), and away we go – snack time!!

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Here’s the recipe. Try them – they’re easy. Some like to dip one side in chocolate, but I think that overpowers the wonderful play of the heat and the orange with the toasty nuts and butter. But hey, that’s probably just me.

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins, or P-COP’s for short

 PCOP Muffin

Tender crumb, full of chewy cranberry, tender pistachios and orange-y goodness. Made with the usual suspects (except the white chocolate – it didn’t make it in.)

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your muffin tins. Get out your ½ cup scoop and set it in a large glass of hot water. If you don’t have a scoop, a pair of soup spoons will do just dandy. Sift your dry ingredients on to a parchment sheet or flexible cutting board (to be able to easily add it to the wet later.)

COMsift

COMdry

 

Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy.

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 Add the eggs.COMegg

Then the vanilla, zest, pumpkin, and buttermilk.

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Next the cranberries and pistachios.

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Finally, stir in the flour mixture to just barely mix. Scoop the batter into the muffin liners, being sure to swirl the scoop (or spoons, use one to scoop the other to scrape the batter into the liner) in the hot water before each scoop.

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 Bake 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

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Cool, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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Recipe here by Karen Maginnis, adapted from: http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/pumpkin-coffeecake-recipe/

Cranberry Orange Scones

COscone1Fresh cranberries. I LOVE this time of year, in part because of the fresh cranberries.   And cranberry and orange? Heaven in my book, absolute heaven!

I thought I’d try a scone with fresh cranberry instead of the treacly sweet dried kind, and some orange.  Google led me to our Lady of Excellence and Butter, Ina Garten.  These are delicious, and on the cakey side more than the biscuity side.  I’m too lazy for a round cutter, so wedged discs it was for me – and I like to brush on my glaze while the scones are still hot – it dries as a pretty shine, and keeps them from drying out if you’re planning to take your sconage to your co-workers the next day.
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Cranberry Orange Scones with Orange Honey Butter
Yields 24
A soft, cakey scone full of fall flavors
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
316 calories
33 g
83 g
19 g
4 g
12 g
81 g
117 g
16 g
1 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
81g
Yields
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 316
Calories from Fat 168
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g
29%
Saturated Fat 12g
59%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 83mg
28%
Sodium 117mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 33g
11%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 16g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
7%
Calcium
2%
Iron
2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the scones
  1. 4 c. AP flour
  2. 1/4 c. sugar
  3. 1 Tbsp orange zest
  4. 1 tsp. salt
  5. 3 sticks of butter (relax - this makes A LOT of scones)
  6. 1 tsp. vanilla
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 c. heavy cream
  9. 1 1/4 c. chopped fresh cranberries
For the glaze
  1. 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  2. 1/4 fresh orange juice
  3. 2 c. powdered sugar
  4. Crystal sugar for the top.
For the orange honey butter
  1. 6 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
  2. 2 Tbsp honey
  3. 1 tsp. orange zest.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375*. Line two cookie trays with parchment.
  2. Cube the butter and stick it in the freezer. Whir the dry ingredients and the orange zest in the bowl of your food processor. Add in the super cold butter and whir til it looks like crumbs. (Ten or twelve pulses). Put in to a big mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the eggs, vanilla and cream. Add that and the chopped cranberries and gently fold the dough together. Divide the dough in to 3rds, and for each third gently roll it in to a ball, then roll it to a disk about 7" across. slice in to 8 wedges. Repeat for the other two, and place them on the cookie trays.
  4. Bake about 20-25 minutes. They should be golden brown and sound hollow when thunked. While they're baking, mix together the glaze. It should be about the consistency of maple syrup.
  5. When you remove the scones from the oven, let them cool 5 minutes. Then use a pastry brush and coat them - top, sides and all. While the glaze is still moist, sprinkle with the chunky sparkly sugar.
  6. Mix all the ingredients for the honey butter, and serve it with the scones.
Notes
  1. I underbaked mine - go closer to the 25 minutes.
Adapted from Ina Garten
beta
calories
316
fat
19g
protein
4g
carbs
33g
more
Adapted from Ina Garten
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