Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Irish Soda Bread

This week's recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) is Irish Soda Bread.. And it is possibly the easiest recipe there is in Baking With Julia (BWJ)..

The process is: Mix flour, salt, baking soda, buttermilk in a bowl, with a fork. Transfer to a floured surface to knead for 1 minute and make a ball.. Bake it for 50 minutes in the preheated oven.. Wait until it reaches room temperature to eat.. Do you know any bread recipe easier than this? At least I never knew baking a bread could be this easy before..

The original recipe uses unbleached all purpose flour and gives the option of adding raisins for a non-traditional (according to Dorie Greenspan) Irish soda bread.. After reading comments on TWD blog about the recipe being open to improvisation in terms of additional ingredients, I decided to make 2 versions of it: One with all purpose flour and raisins - following the original recipe, and second one with half all purpose half whole wheat flour, with 1,5 tablespoons caraway seeds.. Result: They are both delicious but very different than each other.. First one is soft, white and sweet with the additional raisins (which I boiled in water for 2 minutes, drained and dried before using for the bread), second one is brown, heartier and flavored generously with caraway seeds.. They both have substance and texture to support variety of toppings for open-faced sandwiches..

With all purpose flour and raisins..
With half all purpose half whole wheat flour, and caraway seeds.. And also baked in cast iron skillet.. 
BWJ says that this bread is only good for day one and gets rock hard afterwards.. I was positively surprised that it was not the case.. I baked them on Friday, tasted a piece when cooled to room temperature, wrapped with plastic wrap and kitchen towel.. We, my husband and I, ate our bread both on Saturday and Sunday for breakfast.. Although not as good as fresh, I am happy to say that the bread keeps for 2-3 days, locked in sealed plastic bags at room temperature.. They are also good toasted..

Below are pictures of our delicious breakfast items with home-made Irish soda bread.. We ate raisin bread with butter and apricot lekvar (thick dried apricot paste with lemon juice and almonds - from rugelach recipe) and some crushed almonds on top, and the other one with dill-cream cheese and smoked salmon, topped with some fleur de sel..

Raisin Irish soda bread with butter and apricot lekvar..
Caraway seeds Irish soda bread with dill-cream cheese and smoked salmon..
Conclusion: This recipe is so easy and open to variations, I will for sure bake it again and again.. And I recommend you to try it even if you don't consider yourself a baker or are scared of baking a bread.. It is very easy, and eating bread you baked is so satisfying.. You can watch the video of the Irish soda bread episode of Julia Child's TV show, from this link..

For the recipe please visit blogs of Carla and Cathleen : Chocolate Moosey and My Culinary Mission, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

Looking forward to meeting you in two weeks with the next recipe for TWD: Pizza Rustica..

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Rugelach

The first recipe of March for Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) is Rugelach.. According to Wikipedia, it is a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin.. Baking with Julia (BWJ) version of it is made with cream cheese dough and filled with very thick dried fruit butter (called lekvar), nuts, dried fruits and cinnamon sugar.. The end-product is big, sweet, flaky, nutty and delicious rugelach..

Surprisingly (although my husband is Jewish), I had not tasted rugelach before.. The first thing I did before tackling baking them was to buy some from a bagel store, in order to have an idea about what to expect.. The ones I bought from the store were tiny, soft and tasty.. After tasting variety of fillings, I decided to make mine with apricot lekvar (BWJ gives you prune or apricot lekvar options), almonds, walnuts and raisins.. and of course cinnamon sugar, which is a must..

Overall, I found the process of baking the rugelach easy.. But it requires patience with all the wait times to chill the dough.. I divided the tasks to be completed into 2 days: On Thursday I prepared the apricot lekvar, prepared the dough, rolled and filled the rugelach, and left the rolls in the fridge overnight.. On Friday, I sliced them, coated with cinnamon sugar-nuts mixture and baked.. Here are my comments on the steps:

Instagram by Ferda :
Preparing the apricot lekvar
     - Apricot lekvar: is very easy to make and delicious.. Paste of dried apricots, brown sugar, lemon juice and almonds.. BWJ says it goes well with brioche, croissants and toasted whole wheat bread.. I think they would also be a very good condiment on a cheese board.. I will try when I have company next time..

     - Cream cheese dough: comes together very easily, and also easy to roll.. It is soft but not sticky.. And delicious and flaky once cooked..
     - Fillings: listed in the recipe are too much for the amount of dough.. If I spread total amount on the rolled dough, it would be impossible to roll-up.. I ended up using only half of the lekvar, cinnamon sugar, and raisins..

     - Rolling-up: was not very easy even though I did not use total amount of fillings.. It might have helped if I put the dough back in the fridge for a bit and cool down in between rolls, since it gets more difficult to deal with when it stays out of the fridge for a while..

Instagram by Ferda :
Slicing the rugelach
     - Slicing: was piece of cake because I left the rolls in the fridge overnight, and they were solid when slicing..

     - Baking: was tricky.. There was definitely a learning curve for me there.. I baked the first batch for 25 minutes as recommended, but did not double the baking trays since I only have one.. And that batch of rugelach got overcooked - dark and dry.. I thought if this was it, this recipe definetely did not worth the effort.. Then, I baked the second batch for only 20 minutes, and they were golden and delicious.. Everything promised in the book.. And yes, they definitely worth the effort :)

Conclusion: I was pleasently surprised with the end result.. My rugelach were delicious.. I will definetely bake this recipe in the future, and play around with the fillings.. I still have to try the prune lekvar, which - I heard from My little yellow cookbook - is delicious.. And also, my husband liked them a lot too with the disclaimer that they were not the traditional rugelach.. They are better :)

You can find the actual recipe at page 325 of Baking with Julia, or from this week's hosts' blogs: The Urban Hiker and My Baking Heart.. 

Coming in two weeks : Irish Soda Bread :)