Welsh Bara Brith and Pumpkin Apple Butter, Goodbye Downton Abbey

My sister and I decided to get together for a little tea party and viewing of the series finale of Downton Abbey. (I will miss that show.) I thought this would be a good opportunity to use my mom’s bread machine to make a quick bread, and a spread.  (Her machine has both of those settings.)

The Welsh Bara Brith is very similar to what we in America think of as a fruitcake, however, the dried fruit is soaked in Earl Grey Tea instead of liquor.    I deviated from the recipe a bit, I will mark deviations with parentheses.

The night before I was going to make the bread, I boiled 1 1/4 cups of water and poured that into a 4 cup glass measuring cup.  To the water, I added 2 Earl Grey tea bags and let that steep for 10 minutes.  I then removed the tea bags, squeezing them to release all the tea.  To the tea, I added 4 oz of chopped dried apricots, 2 oz of dried cranberries and 2 oz of chopped dried figs.  I allowed that to come to room temperature, and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. (The recipe called for 8 oz of chopped dried fruit, so I used what I had on hand. The recipe also says to let the fruit soak for 1 to 4 hours.)

In the morning, I added the following to the bread machine pan:

The tea-soaked fruit, with liquid

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted (the recipe says that the butter can be melted, or at room temperature)

3 tablespoons of apricot preserves (The recipe calls for your choice of apricot preserves, orange marmalade or ginger marmalade)

1 cup light brown sugar

2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup dark raisins (recipe says dark or golden)

1/2 cup candied cherries (Here was a big deviation, the recipe said candied orange peel, I used what I had on hand)

2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons apple pie spice

3/4 teaspoon salt

The recipe says to used the Quick Bread/Cake cycle on the machine and then, when the timer goes off, use the bake only cycle for another 20 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch, it shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  (20 extra minutes was no where near long enough,  I kept adding time, in 20 minute increments until the loaf was done.  All total, I think I may have added another hour or more.)

Once the loaf was done, I removed it, still in the pan, to a rack to cook for 1o minutes.  After that, I removed it, right side up, to the rack to cool completely, then I sliced it and stored the slices in the refrigerator until teatime.

After cleaning the pan, I started my Pumpkin Apple Butter. According to the cookbook, this recipe is adapted for the bread machine from a Libby’s recipe.

Into the bread machine pan, I placed:

15 oz of pumpkin puree

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

1/2 cup unsweetened, unfiltered apple juice

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

I set the machine for the Jam cycle and let it go.  When the cycle completed, I removed the pan and stirred in 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.  I waited until the mixture was cool before transferring it to small containers to freeze.  You can also store this in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

The bread was dense, moist, and totally delicious.  Not being a fan of fruitcake, I was a little worried that I would not like this, but the tea made all the difference.

Welsh Bara Brith

The pumpkin apple butter was great also, but not really needed with the bread.  It was better with plain English Muffins or over biscuits.  The cookbook recommends serving the bread spread with butter, and I think that may be the best way to appreciate all the great flavors in it.  Since I can’t eat a lot of dried fruit, I sent the leftovers with Becky and she took them to work to get more opinions.  I also gave her the leftover Apricot Preserves, so she offered that with it as well.

Here is what our taste testers at Steamboat Animal Hospital had to say,

“Favorite so far”

“Iz Goood!”

“I love the tea soaked fruit.You can really taste the tea.  I tried it w/marmalade and without. . . both ways are delicious. I love the consistency of the bread and the mix of flavors are each distinct, but go together very well. Two thumbs up.”

“So Good!  Would have never thought of soaking the fruit in tea for baking – genius!  How can I get my hands on a whole loaf?”

“Dank”  (I totally had to use the urban dictionary online to define that one. . . an expression frequently used by stoners and hippies for something of high quality.) LOL

All in all, this one is a keeper, and will possibly show up again around the holidays.

Not sure if this would be good enough to serve the Grantham Family upstairs, but I am sure the staff downstairs would approve.  (Well, maybe not Mr. Carson.)

Cinnamon-Apple-Pecan Bread, page 446, July 27, 2015

Onward and upward.  One more loaf before I head out in the morning, then I will bake a couple when I get to my mom’s.  This one is touted by the author as “the ultimate breakfast bread.”  From the ingredients, it sure sounds like that will be an apt description.

Ingredients for this loaf go into my bread machine in the following order:  1 1/8 cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons walnut oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 3 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon (yeah, a whole tablespoon,) 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.  I have set the machine for a medium crust and the basic bread cycle.

While that gets going, I chop up 1/2 cup dried apples and 1/3 cup pecans.  They will be added when the machine signals between Kneads 1 and 2.

As I check the dough after the first mix, it seems really dry. I will add more buttermilk, a little at a time, until the consistency looks right.  I am concerned that the first knead won’t be enough to blend the buttermilk in completely.  Please don’t let me end my night with another brick.

It was looking really ugly, so before adding the apples and pecans, I tossed the dough and started over.  This time, I added 1 more tablespoon of buttermilk during the mixing phase and it already looks better.

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This loaf didn’t rise terribly high, but that is what I am expecting from the sweeter loaves anymore.  Still it looks significantly better than the Greek Currant Bread I did earlier today.  It smells really lovely, too.  The scent of apples and cinnamon is always a delight.

My cousin-in-law(?), Brian, comments on a lot of my bread recipes, so I sent him half a loaf of this.  Here’s what he had to say:

” Thank you Paula for the wonderful bread! Love it! Ate half but going to toast the rest cuz I am all about that toast. Much thanks.”

Applesauce Bread page 355, May 23, 2015

After baking two loaves yesterday that were not for me, I needed to get something going that I am able to enjoy.  The thought of applesauce bread just makes me happy, so I am hoping the finished product will as well.

I have always loved apples, my Grandpa Ted and Grandma Helen used to keep bushels of apples on their porch and the smell of apples always brings me back there.  We also had several apple trees while growing up and in addition to being great for climbing, we were able to enjoy the fruit as well.  They weren’t the best eating apples, a little too sour for my taste, but the deer liked them, so we always got to watch the wildlife.  My sister, Becky, and I even “invented” a game we called Appleball.  One of us would pitch an apple at the other one, who would hit it with a baseball bat.  It seems like such a waste now, but we had fun on those spring and summer days, beating apples into applesauce all over ourselves and the orchard.

Back to the recipe.  Ingredients for this bread included:  1/4 cup apple juice, 1/2 cup unsweetened cinnamon applesauce, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons of butter (cut into pieces), 3 cups of bread flour, 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon gluten, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/3 teaspoon baking soda and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine flour.

The brown sugar can be omitted for a more savory loaf and apple pie spice can be substituted for the cinnamon.  The recipe itself just calls for unsweetened apIMG_4024plesauce, but cinnamon applesauce is what I had on hand, so this will be a bread heavy on that spice. The author mentions also that you can add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the dough, if desired, and that addition  makes for very good toast.  However, I want a bread I can eat, so no nuts. For this loaf, I am using the “Sweet” and “Light” cycles on my machine.

This one even smells good at the dough stage.  At this point, I am smelling more cinnamon than apple.  The scent reminds me a bit of cinnamon rolls.

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The loaf came out a lovely golden brown, the apple smell is more prominent now that it has finished baking.  The top, as you can see is smooth and nicely rounded.

This is a soft loaf, so I should have let it cool completely before slicing into it, but that wasn’t going to happen with this yummy smell in the house.

IMG_4058This is a slightly-sweet and tender bread with a chewy crust.  The apple and cinnamon flavors are apparent, but not overwhelming.  I am thinking it will make excellent toast at breakfast with a cup of tea, but I may also try making a grilled cheese sandwich with it.  This one is a keeper.