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Flowerpot Soda Bread

Irish soda bread – the quick and easy bread you can make and eat in a matter of an hour. Which is exactly what I do on weekend mornings when I want freshly baked bread to go with my morning coffee!

My version has a spoonful of treacle to give it a malty flavour, alhtough it’s still quite a plain bread. You can zhush it up into a sweeter, more fancy bread by adding dried fruit – I like adding cranberries or sour cherries.

And baking soda bread in individual flowerpots is fantastic for making great little individual loaves. I love serving winter warming stews and casseroles with baby flowerpot loaves. Very rustic!

Of course, if you don’t have (clean) flowerpots on hand, you could just as easily make these loaves in muffins molds or even as free form loaves.

Here is the recipe for treacle flowerpot loaves and the fruity flowerpot variation.

Ingredients
340g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ -1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbls black treacle
290mls buttermilk

For fruity flowerpots, add a couple of good handfuls or to taste, of dried fruit. For my bake, I made half  plain loaves, half fruity.

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly spray terracotta flower pots with cooking spray. Put a little flour into each pot, shaking the pot to make sure the flour coats the inside of the pot. Shake out any excess. You don’t need to be too precise – the main thing is to roughly coat the flower pot to allow easy removal of the loaf once baked.

Place flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the treacle to the buttermilk, stirring it well.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk/treacle mixture, mixing quickly to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.) Add the dried fruit if using.

Mix well, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly. You can even skip the kneading and pile the mix straight into the pots.

Put handfuls of the dough into the pots, filing to about 3/4 full, to allow for the bread to rise. Place the pots on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the loaves are risen and deep brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the flowerpots. The way to do this is to gently run a knife round the edge of the bread in the pot to loosen it, then turn out.

Serve with lashings of butter and nice jam. Here’s the link to my cumquat jam and other preserves, that I love with soda bread.

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Cinnamon Buttermilk Muffins

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I have just discovered the secret to great muffins – keeping the mixture in the fridge overnight or longer before baking. Matt Stone in his fabulous book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste” gives this tip in his recipe for Greenhouse Muffins, which I recently wrote up in a post, see here. This trick of leaving the mixture in the fridge definitely gives the muffins their gorgeous flavour.

My other discovery came about when I realised that I didn’t have any buttermilk. You just add lemon juice to milk to create the separation process. So easy!

My recipe uses ground cinnamon and cinnamon honey. I bought this honey made by Beelish Honey (http://www.beelish.com.au/) at a hand-made market in the Hunter Valley recently.  It has an unusual strong cinnamon flavour. You can just use ordinary honey instead and maybe add a little more cinnamon to the mixture.

Ingredients
1 Granny Smith apple or similar tart apple
150 gms self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
50 gms almond meal
50 gms rolled oats
75 gms dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50 gms melted butter
1 egg, beaten
225 mls buttermilk or semi-skimmed milk with the juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp cinnamon honey or ordinary honey
2 handfuls sour cherries or cranberries or raisins

Crumble topping
50g cold butter
70g plain flour
50g rolled oats
3 tsp honey

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a 6 cup muffin tin with muffin papers or grease muffin pan.
Mix flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, almond meal, rolled oats, dark brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl.
Combine melted butter, egg, buttermilk, vanilla paste and cinnamon honey or ordinary honey in another bowl.
Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.
Fold in the chopped apple and cherries or other dried fruit. Ideally, if you can, leave the muffin mixture overnight for the flavours to develop. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge.                                                                                   Fill the 6 muffin cup muffin tin with the mixture.
For the crumble topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, mix well, then mix in the honey. Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture.
Bake for about 25-35 minutes in the preheated oven. Check after 25 minutes with the skewer test, but they will probably need a further 5 -10 minutes. These are quite big muffins and need decent cooking time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Serve with lashing of butter and maybe a little honey!

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Plum and Cranberry Soda Bread Muffins

 

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I wasn’t quite sure what to call these muffins! They are inspired by the recipe for Irish soda bread but, like all good muffins, are fruit filled and quite moist.

They came about when I was researching soda bread and found this great recipe from Jack Monroe for Rhubarb and Ginger Soda Bread from her blog Cooking on a Bootstrap. I was very impressed with her helpful suggestion about how to make a buttermilk substitute, by adding lemon juice to ordinary milk. I also liked that she added rhubarb to the traditional soda bread recipe.

So I decided to make muffins, using the main ingredients for soda bread – flour, bi-carb and lemon juice soured milk as the buttermilk substitute. I added an egg, as muffin recipes really need that enrichment.

My recipe has both fresh fruit and dried fruit. I think both are good – I suggest you go with whatever is seasonal for the fresh fruit, and any fried fruit would work well.

These muffins have no butter or oil, so are quite healthy. You could cut right down on the sugar if you really wanted a super-good-for-you muffin.

The result was moist, full of gorgeous spices and delicious on its own. A little yoghurt with the muffin would be nice, or even butter…!

Ingredients

200mls semi-skimmed milk
Juice of half a lemon
250g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 free-range egg lightly beaten
3 plums (chopped) or any other stone fruit or other fruit such as apples or pears
2 tbls dried cranberries or other dried fruit
100gms brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Demerara sugar for sprinkling.

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Line 6 silicon muffin moulds with muffin papers. If you don’t have these moulds, use an ordinary 6 hole muffin tin. Or you can use a smaller 12 cup muffin tin for daintier muffins.
Pour the milk into a jug or a cup and squeeze in the lemon juice. Leave to stand for a minute or two to allow the milk to curdle. Add the beaten egg.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and bicarb and briefly mix through. Add the chopped plums, with the dried cranberries. Stir in the sugar and spices.
Make a well in the centre of the flour/fruit ingredients and pour in the curdled milk, lemon and egg mixture.
Stir together, remembering not to overmix as muffins definitely need only rough mixing.
Spoon the mixture into muffin cases in your moulds or tin. Just before putting into the oven, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with demerara sugar for added crunch.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.
Serve warm on their own or with yogurt or butter.

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Baked Buttermilk Doughnuts

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I love the idea of these doughnuts because they are baked, not deep fried. I made them for Easter this year, as a change from hot cross buns. The recipe is from delicious. magazine, April 2015.

The baked doughnuts are dipped in cinnamon sugar and then in a rich chocolate sauce. I think I preferred them just sugar dipped  – that was sweet enough for me.

They end up more like a sweet bun than a traditional doughnut – there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you are hanging out for that “doughnut” taste.

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Ingredients

2.5 tsps instant yeast

1/4 cup milk, warmed

2/3 cup caster sugar

3 1/4 cups plain flour

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 egg lightly beaten

40g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For dipping:

2 tsps ground cinnamon

2/3 cup caster sugar

Chocolate glaze:

100mls milk

200gms dark chocolate

1 tbls caster sugar

Extra milk for brushing

Method

Combine yeast and warm milk with a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy. Combine the flour and remaining sugar with a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Gradually add the yeast mixture, buttermilk, egg and butter, and knead on low speed for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for  1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knock down. Roll into a sausage and cut into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Divide between 2 baking trays lined with baking paper. Lightly flatten each ball into disc. Using a round cutter, cut out the centre of each ball. You can bake the centres as “additional” doughnut balls on the trays as well. Cover the baking trays with cling film and set aside in a warm place for a further 1 hour or until risen.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Bake the doughnuts one tray at a time for 8-9 minutes or until light golden. Remove from the oven and move to a wire rack to cool slightly.

For the glaze, combine milk, chocolate and sugar in heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted and combined.  remove from heat and cool slightly.

Brush doughnuts with the extra milk. Toss the doughnuts in the sugar mixture, then dip the tops in the chocolate glaze.

Irish Soda Bread with Black Treacle

I love the idea of bread that can me made from scratch in under an hour! No yeast, no rising, and a delicious nutty, malty flavour.

I researched Irish soda bread online, and discovered that the only essential ingredients are flour, bi-carbonate of soda, buttermilk and salt.

Here is a helpful website aptly named –  Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread: http://www.sodabread.info/

In my recipe I have added a tablespoon of black treacle, to give a little sweetness and that malty flavour. Quite by accident I neglected to add the treacle to the buttermilk before adding to the dry ingredients, so I mixed it into the dough after the addition of the buttermilk. This gave a lovely streaked effect to the baked bread!

Ingredients
340g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ -1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
290mls buttermilk
1 tbls black treacle

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Place flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)

Stir in treacle, and mix well, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

Form into a round then place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

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Serve with lashings of butter, jam or golden syrup!

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