Thursday, October 9, 2008

A plum by any other name....

.... is still a plum to me. Apparently the official title for this loaf (or quick bread) is Italian Prune Nut Bread. It calls for Italian prunes.... or prune plums as they are also called...but I finally found out that they are the same little plums we used to pick off the backyard trees in any neighbourhood in Kamloops when we were kids ...

The grocery store had a very small display of them... I bought them all. I'm freezing some for when I want this loaf and there is two feet of snow on the ground. I'm also baking two more today. It's that good!! One of the tastiest loaves I have ever baked.

Italian Prune Nut Bread
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt ( I never use it because I used salted butter)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream (I used fat free yogurt)
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 cups Italian prunes, pitted and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces.
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar, cinnamon and baking soda.
Blend sour cream and orange peel...
.. add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients.
Stir til blended.
Add prunes and nuts; mix well.
Divide between two greased loaf pans (9x5x3).
Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes
.... or until tooth pick inserted in centre comes out clean.
Cool 10 mins. in pan
Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on rack.

............ options .... I added a bit of ginger, all spice and nutmeg to the cinnamon. Be careful with nutmeg and all spice..just a tiny "sprink" goes a long way! The nuts in mine were walnuts and I lightly toasted them before chopping. I halved the recipe for my test loaf.... but it was so good I will be making more right away. Double wrapping with foil and plastic keeps loaves as fresh as the day you bake them. Just thaw and enjoy later. Last week I sliced an egg nog loaf from Christmas baking..... perfect for a surprise treat at tea time ...

Mennonite Girls Can Cook is the site where I found the recipe .... look under quick breads if the link doesn't take you immediately to the page. Have a look at all the other wonderful recipes while you are there ..... I love the beautiful photos. It seems that Mennonite Girls can indeed cook .... and they all seem to be pretty amazing photographers as well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tuscan Peasant Bread

I got this recipe via Susan's blog... she mentioned that instead of the pinch of salt and pinch of sugar...she adds a teaspoon of salt (which helps regulate the action of yeast) and she adds a teaspoon of honey instead of sugar. I used a multi grain flour in place of the whole wheat suggested. You can see some of the flax seeds in the sliced picture. It is pretty yummy toasted.. even with Becel....

It is a rather bland bread with a lovely, chewy crust. One bread book I have suggests using this type of bread with salty or very flavourful dishes. Great with cheeses and olives... (not that I eat any of those!).. but if you do.... and lucky you might I add ... sigh... ..

The dough is pretty forgiving and if you leave it longer or punch it down more than once or big deal...

My oven is exact and I found that 55 minutes was too long. Even with parchment on the bottom of my baking sheet... it got a bit more toasted in a few areas than I liked. I think perhaps 400 F next time and probably only about 45 mins. I think I will also form two smaller loaves and use my baking stone instead and see how that turns out. This large loaf is different though and was fun to make...but of course was too long for the toaster slots... had to cut each slice in half. And the guy must have been eating Rice Krispies while waiting for it to cool...I didn't hear any snap, crackle, pop...