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.)

Carrot Bread, page 558, August 2015

This is the first “no-yeast quick bread” I have made out of this cookbook.  My bread machine at home doesn’t have a quick bread cycle, but mom’s does, so I decided to try a loaf while I was at her house.  We had gone to the store and I found some organic rainbow carrots (orange, yellow, white and purple.)  This recipe came to mind, so I picked them up.  The recipe describes this quick bread as cake-like and that it resembles a steamed pudding.

The ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:  4 large eggs, 1/2 cup walnut oil, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 cups lightly packed shredded raw carrots, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups bread flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt.  I started the quick bread cycle and let it go.

The recipe states that when the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, I needed to press stop and program the bake only cycle for another 15 minutes to finish baking.  The bread is supposed to be done when it shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan, the sides are dark brown and the top is firm when touched with a finger.  I really overthought this one.  I started with 10 minutes.  It still looked too damp, so I added another 5.  Then another 10, then ANOTHER 15.  I finally threw up my hands and declared the loaf a lost cause, swearing that I had wasted my time and ingredients (including those lovely carrots.)  Wise women, my mom and cousin, Michelle, encouraged me to have us each try a little before I tossed it out.

Thank goodness they did.  I somehow expected this to look and act like a loaf of yeast bread, forgetting that the author had already described it as akin to a steamed pudding.  It was fantastic.  We didn’t eat it in slices, rather in small dessert dishes with spoons.  It was like a warm carrot cake.  So tasty.  Thank you ladies for helping me rein in a totally needless panic attack.  Definitely a keeper.

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.”

Greek Currant Bread, page 440, July 27, 2015

This smells great, and I haven’t even put anything in the bread machine yet.

This Greek bread, also known as stafidopsomo, is made using currants, orange juice, cinnamon, cloves, honey, allspice and orange-blossom water.  The first step I completed, the one that currently smells so great is to place 1 1/4 cups currants in a bowl with 1 stick of cinnamon, 2 whole cloves, a pinch of allspice and 3 tablespoons of orange juice.  This is covered and allowed to stand at room temperature for an hour while the currants get soft and plump. After the hour is up, I removed the cinnamon stick and cloves.  I then drained the currants and set them aside, reserving the remaining OJ.  To the juice, I added just a little water to equal 2 tablespoons.

Into the bread machine pan went the OJ/water blend, 1 cup of evaporated milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of orange-blossom water, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 teaspoons of SAF yeast.  The recipe does mention that while the orange-blossom water is a nice touch, it is optional and can be left out without affecting the bread.  I have some orange-blossom water on hand, otherwise I might have left it out myself.  It is not always an easy ingredient to find.

This loaf uses the medium crust and sweet bread settings on my machine.  After the beep between the first and second Kneads, I added the drained currants. Here is where I got to hovering a bit.  I used a rubber spatula to help incorporate the currants into the dough.  I am not sure this was at all necessary, I just thought it couldn’t hurt.

As I wait for the bread, I think I will make myself a cup of tea and use the cinnamon stick from the orange juice soak to flavor it.  I hate the thought of wasting a cinnamon stick but I don’t know if there is a way to salvage and store it after having been soaked in juice.  Ah well, this will certainly be a good cup of tea.

Uh oh, this loaf really has me worried.  It doesn’t seem to be rising well, at all.  It is reminding me of the Chocolate Pistachio loaf I did that never progressed beyond dough.  In an attempt to salvage it, I stopped the machine after the last rise, but before it started baking.  I then let the dough rise another hour (I checked it after 30 minutes, then decided to let it keep going.)  It rose a bit.  It at least has a nice rounded top now.  I then turned the machine back on to just the bake cycle.  Crossing my fingers now.

Yeah, so apparently crossing fingers doesn’t actually DO anything.  I have the Ben Folds Five song stuck on a loop in my head right now, “She’s a brick and I’m drowning, slowly.”  Ah well.  I will still take this one with me when I head out tomorrow, maybe I can salvage a slice from the oIMG_4370uter edge for one of my guinea pigs family members to taste.

You know what? Mom and I went ahead and tried a slice of this this morning. It isn’t doughy, just a very heavy, very dense loaf of bread.  I fried us each a slice in a little bit of butter, it was delicious. The flavors from the orange/currant/spice blend was great. Mom said it reminded her of a Pannetone. All in all, not a total fail. I still don’t like the sheer weight of it, and it may be more doughy at the center of the loaf, but the flavor is really nice.

Mexican Chocolate Bread, page 491 May 26, 2015

I am going to be getting together with some friends for a Latin-themed party this weekend, so I thought I would make this dessert bread to take along.  It contains flavors of chocolate, cinnamon, coffee and orange, sure to be a crowd-pleaser.FullSizeRender

My ingredients for this loaf are:  1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel, 1 tablespoon candied orange peel, 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 1/2 cups bread flour, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa, 1 tablespoon gluten, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

For this loaf, I set the crust on Light and am using the Sweet cycle.  I also made a few substitutions to the recipe in the cookbook, again I will have to see how it works out.  The recipe called for 1/2 cup orange juice.  I was out of OJ, and knew I needed to replace the full quantity of liquid, so I substituted the water, and included the dried and candied orange peel to maintain a hint of orange flavor in the bread.  When I think of Mexican chocolate, I associate that with cinnamon flavor more than orange anyway.

IMG_4069It is rising nicely, the sheen to the loaf makes me think of a cake, rather than a loaf of bread, though.  We shall see how it turns out.  (As expected, it smells incredible.)

The loaf finished and I removed it to a baking rack to cool before slicing.  I noticed that there seems to be a large collection of chocolate chips near the bottom corners of the loaf.  That could be because I got busy doing other things while it was mixing and kneading and never checked to see if I needed to scrape the sides of the pan.  Usually I do this.  Just remember to check a couple of times and use a rubber spatula to ensure everything gets mixed into the dough ball.

IMG_4073 I sliced this up now, even though I am not serving it until this weekend because I am running out of room for whole loaves in my freezer.  (Also, I get a chance to taste test it this way.)

The bread texture is tender and the crust is nice and soft.  You can see from the pictures that some of the chocolate chips did make it throughout the loaf.  You can also see the bits of candied orange peel.  This is just delicious, the cinnamon, chocolate and orange are all more evident to the taste buds than the coffee flavor. In using orange peel, instead of orange juice, the citrus flavor comes in nice little bits through the bread.  A bright  note every once in a while. I tried a piece plain and tried another with a spread of butter.  I preferred it with the butter as it is definitely bread and not cake, it is a little to dry to be eaten plain.  I still have some orange curd I may try with it as well.  I imagine orange marmalade would also be tasty.  I will have to let you know what the party-guests think of it.

Everyone seemed to like it.  After having been frozen, it was a little drier than when it was freshed-baked.  That is hardly a surprise though.

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.