Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

My kids ate this tender and delicious soda bread with their bowl of celebratory Lucky Charms for breakfast this morning. 😉 It was also wonderful on its own with and without a little butter and jam. It could be warmed and served with dinner as well.

The recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins and Breads by Kathleen King, the founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour, unsalted butter, coarse salt and modified the baking time for a convection oven. My husband thought that it may be the best version I’ve ever made. Great.

Yield: two 7 to 8-inch round loaves

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 8 T (1/2 cup or 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 to 3 T caraway seeds, to taste
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used low-fat)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and toss lightly.
  5. Add buttermilk and mix with a fork until all dry ingredients are moistened. (The dough will be very soft and wet.)
  6. Form the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured board or counter. Knead for about 30 seconds or until the dough is smooth.
  7. Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape into balls.
  8. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut and “X” on top of each loaf about 1/4-inch deep.
  9. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 50 minutes in a standard oven, or until crusty and golden. (I baked my loaves on convection for 37 minutes.)

Wave Birthday Cake (Yellow Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Vanilla Oreo Filling)

One of the few things that my daughter loves as much as her birthday is the beach. That being said, she naturally chose a “wave” theme for her celebratory 14th birthday cake this year. 🙂

The cake recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe was adapted from various sources. It was incredibly moist and absolutely delicious.

Similar to my husband, my daughter requests a similar birthday dinner annually, calzones. 🙂 This year we started the day with pumpkin doughnut muffins instead of crumb cake though! Her traditional birthday number cookies were orange inspired by monarch butterflies- another love.

For the Yellow Cake:

Yield: Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (245g/8.6 oz) sour cream
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Dust with flour and shake out the excess.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Beat in vanilla.
  7. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, ending with the dry ingredients.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  9. Fold egg whites into cake batter, and pour into the prepared pans. (I weigh the pans to evenly distribute the batter.)
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Remove pans to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before removing cake from pans; finish cooling on a rack (parchment paper side down).

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7 vanilla Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the decorative “sand”
  • blue gel food coloring
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Meanwhile, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter or cake stand.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread over the top of the first layer of cake.
  8. Place the second layer, inverted, on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale blue with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale blue frosting. (I used a relatively thin coat.) Reserve 1/4 cup of the pale blue frosting if needed for touchups.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “ocean blue.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with an open star piping tip.
  13. Then, starting at the bottom of the cake, pipe “waves” of varying sizes. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  14. Pipe “waves” of varying sizes on the top of the cake. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  15. Crush additional vanilla Oreos in a food processor. Sprinkle in the center of the cake and around the outer edge of the serving platter for the decorative “sand.”
  16. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Brown Sugar Cookies with Pecans

I tried to rename these cookies because the title “brown sugar cookies” doesn’t seem to do them justice. The original recipe describes them as “butterscotch-flavored.” I would also suggest “butter pecan-flavored.” We absolutely loved them! 🙂

This recipe is from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King, the founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I used coarse salt and chilled the dough prior to baking. Wonderful!

Yield: about 35 cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I used raw pecans)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture and pecans.
  5. Using a small cookie scoop, drop by tablespoons onto a plastic-wrap lined cookie sheet or container. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  7. Place cookies on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until cookies feel firm in the center. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Easter Carrot Cake

This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life. My entire family felt the same way. I’ll never be able to try another version.

When my friend gave me this special cookbook, she mentioned that the carrot cake recipe was wonderful and that it incorporated crushed pineapple. I can’t believe I waited so long to make it! The author notes that this is their most popular cake- and that its sales in the bakery double every year. It really was unbelievably delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I roasted the walnuts, reduced the baking time, and lined the cake pans with parchment paper.

Yield: One 9-inch, 2-layer cake

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots (from 5 to 6 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roast the walnuts until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, grease paper and dust pans with flour.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  6. In another large bowl, mix sugar and oil.
  7. Beat in eggs with an electric mixer. (I used a hand held mixer.)
  8. Stir in carrots, roasted nuts, and pineapple.
  9. Stir in the flour mixture.
  10. Pour into prepared pans. (I use a scale to ensure that the pans hold an equal amount of batter.)
  11. Bake for 35 minutes on convection, or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove pans to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pans.
  13. Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

For the Cream-Cheese Icing and To Finish the Cake:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Spread the icing between the 9-inch layers and over the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Chill before serving. (I made the cake a day in advance.)

Note: This cake is very moist and keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator; it also freezes perfectly unfrosted.

One Year Ago: French Apple Cake

Two Years Ago: Carrot-Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Three Years Ago: Outrageous Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Four Years Ago: Jacques Pepin’s Plum Galette and Raspberry Custard Tart

Five Years Ago: Carrot Cupcakes and Cheesecake Brownies

Banana Honey Muffins

I loved these wholesome, naturally sweetened muffins more than everyone else in my house. The cookbook described them as “a great alternative to a heavier banana bread.” Agreed! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour and wheat bran for the wheat germ.

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or wheat bran
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mashed, fully ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flours, wheat germ/bran, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter. Add honey, vanilla, and mashed banana.
  5. Add butter mixture to flour mixture and mix lightly.
  6. Spoon mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

One Year Ago: Applesauce Oatmeal Bread

Two Years Ago: No-Knead Bread from Sullivan Street Bakery

Three Years Ago: 

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

White Sandwich Bread

After all of the heavy eating during the holidays, I was craving a light soup and salad dinner. My daughter is always asking for Tomato Soup, so I made this bread to serve with it so that it would be a substantial enough meal for my husband. It was a bribe of sorts, as I usually do not support the consumption of white bread. 😉

This wonderful bread recipe was adapted from a favorite book, Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. I halved the recipe and adapted the recipe to use a bread machine. My family loved it!

Yield: one standard loaf

  • 2 1/2 T warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk (I used 1 percent)
  • 1 1/2 T unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp bread machine (dry) yeast
  1. Combine warm water, warm milk, and butter in the bread machine loaf pan.
  2. Place flour over the top, using a knife to spread it evenly into the corners of the pan.
  3. Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the top of the flour.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the yeast.
  5. Set the bread machine to 1 1/2 pound standard loaf and start.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Oat Bran Bread

This is the ultimate peanut butter and jelly sandwich bread. Super moist whole grain bread with subtle sweetness.

The original recipe made 3 loaves which seemed like a little much to me… I made half the recipe and baked it in my favorite Pullman loaf pan. Perfect!

This recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins and Breads by Kathleen King. I doubled the wheat bran in lieu of using wheat germ, used 1 percent milk in lieu of skim, and made half the recipe as a Pullman loaf.

Yield: Makes 1 Pullman loaf (double the recipe makes 3 standard loaves)

  • 1 1/8 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 3/4 cups skim or 1 percent milk
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1/2 T coarse salt
  • 1 3/4 cups oat bran
  • 1 whole wheat flour
  • 2 T wheat germ
  • 2 T wheat bran
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, separated
  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Stir until dissolved and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan, heat milk and add molasses, oil, and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oat bran, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat bran, and 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour.
  4. Add cooled milk mixture and oat bran-flour mixture to yeast mixture. Beat for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour.
  6. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, and knead until smooth and elastic.
  7. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl; brush top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk. (I placed mine in a proofing oven for 1+ hours.)
  8. Punch down the dough and form into a loaf. Put into a greased Pullman loaf pan.
  9. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. (I placed mine in a proofing oven for 1+ hours.)
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, preferably on convection, for 35 to 45 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

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