Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Soda bread is an essential start of the celebration in our house.¬†ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I loved the muffin adaptation- and the coarse sugar topping. I weighed the dry ingredients, reduced the baking time, and used turbinado sugar for the topping. Yummy.

  • 6 1/4 oz (177 g, 1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz (85 g, , 3/4 cup) white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup (2 5/8 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups currants (first choice) or raisins
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 227 g) buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz, 85 g)¬†butter, melted; or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • turbinado¬†sugar, for topping
  • butter and/or jam, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 400¬įF, preferably on convection. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan with cooking oil spray; or line with papers, and grease the papers.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).
  4. Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won’t take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups.
  6. Top with turbinado sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake the muffins for 14-15 minutes on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven.
  8. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don’t get soggy. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.
  9. Serve them plain, or with butter and/or jam.

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Single-Crust Damson Plum & Apple Pie

I “had” to make this¬†wonderful weeknight pie with the Damson plums I received in my CSA share. ūüôā Apparently, they are too tart to be eaten raw and must be cooked. Lucky for me, I received over two pounds of them and was able to enjoy them in two different desserts!

The combination of tart fruit with a sweet cookie-like crust in this pie was absolutely delicious. Blending plums with apples was a wonderful bridge from summer to fall as well.

This recipe was adapted from The Guardian, contributed by Nigel Slater, via Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe used prune plums. It was almost a cobbler with its crumbly lid and oozing filling. Amazing.

I’m sharing my pie at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #138 this week, co-hosted by my friends Mollie @The Frugal Hausfrau and Johanne @French Gardener Dishes. Enjoy!

For the Pastry Lid:

  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (I used the zest from about 1/2 a naval orange.)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup plus 6 1/2 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse or flaky salt
  • milk or heavy¬†cream, for brushing crust
  • turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling crust
  • softly whipped, lightly sweetened cream, or vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional (unnecessary!)

For the Filling:

  • 1 pound ripe Damson plums or Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
  • 1 pound apples, peeled, cored and cut into smaller chunks (I used Pink Lady apples.)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • squeeze or two of fresh orange juice
  1. Make the pastry lid: In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the lightly beaten egg and scrape down sides.
  3. Slowly add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until combined.
  4. Scrape dough into a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and stick in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes, or until firmed up.
  5. Assemble the pie: Preheat oven to 350¬įF (180¬įC or gas mark 4).
  6. Butter a pie dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  7. Add the fruit and sprinkle it with the sugar, cinnamon and orange juice. Gently toss the ingredients together once or twice. 
  8. Roll out the firmed-up lid dough between sheets of plastic wrap or on a very well floured counter.
  9. Gently lift it onto the pie and fold the edges underneath to fit the dish. Crimp the edges, as desired. (Note: The crust may tear- all the better to let juice erupt through.)
  10. Cut 4 vents in the top to allow steam to release and additional juice to bubble through.
  11. Brush the crust with milk or cream, sprinkle with sugar. 
  12. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly golden on top, covering the edges after the first 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.
  13. Scoop onto dishes and serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream, as desired. (I thought it was perfect on its own!)

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Banana Oat Muffins with Maple Syrup Drizzle

I have had this recipe from nancycreative.com bookmarked to try for a long time. I am always looking for new and tasty ways to enjoy my super-ripe bananas and the maple syrup drizzle in this recipe sounded absolutely delicious.

Ironically, when I assembled the muffins, I decided to top them with turbinado sugar prior to baking instead of using maple syrup. “What!?!?” you say? Well, you are not alone. It was a mistake… My entire family revolted. ūüėČ We enjoyed them immensely with both the turbinado sugar and the maple syrup!

As well as the additional sugar topping, I also adapted the original recipe to incorporate whole wheat flour and rolled oats. Great.

Yield: Makes 10 muffins

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 3 T canola oil (or light olive oil)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup plain¬†Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • turbinado sugar, optional, for topping
  • pure Maple Syrup, optional, for drizzling over muffins (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per muffin)
  1. Preheat oven to 375ňöF, preferably on convection. Line a muffin pan with 10 (parchment) paper liners; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. In medium bowl, mix mashed bananas, oil, egg, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract, blending well.
  4. Add banana mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with turbinado sugar, if desired.
  5. Bake at 375ňöF for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack or serve warm.
  6. Right before serving, lightly drizzle some maple syrup on top, if desired.

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Magdalenas

I wanted¬†to make these as soon as I read Linda’s post about this Spanish version of French Madeleines on La Petite Paniere. I also had to post them as soon as I made them! I loved her description- ¬†they seemed like a dessert but are eaten as a special bakery breakfast in Algeria. They are very light, only slightly sweet, and were absolutely delicious with raspberry jam.

IMG_0215

I substituted some potato starch for the corn starch (I didn’t have enough…). I also substituted large for medium eggs, canola oil for safflower oil, and vanilla extract for the vanilla sugar in the original recipe. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven. Tasty and pretty! ūüôā

Yield: 12 Magdalenas (I only made 11!)

  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 g corn starch (I substituted some potato starch as well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 100 ml sunflower oil or canola oil
  • 200 g granulated or caster sugar
  • 5 large¬†eggs, separated
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • turbinado¬†sugar, for sprinkling

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C  or 350 F degrees on convection.
  2. Using cooking oil spray, grease small individuals mini magdalenas mold or muffins tray. (I used standard-size brioche tins.)
  3. In a bowl, combine the flour, the corn starch and the baking powder with a whisk.
  4. Separate egg yolks from whites (in two different large bowls).
  5. In the bowl with the 5 egg yolks, add the sugar, the vanilla extract, and the lemon zest. Whisk together all the ingredients until they become creamy.
  6. Add the oil and continue to mix.
  7. Add the flour, the corn (or potato!) starch and the baking powder mixture. Mix all of the ingredients together. (The batter is quite thick.)
  8. In the second bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin forming. (I used a hand mixer.)
  9. Incorporate the whisked egg whites to the egg yolk-flour mixture and fold in until combined.
  10. Spoon into molds and sprinkle with a little of turbinado sugar over the top. (I used a large ice cream scoop.)
  11. Bake for 17 or 18 minutes on convection (more or less depending the oven) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes. Transfer into a serving plate or basket. Serve with jam or orange marmalade on the side.

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones

These just might be the best scones I’ve ever made. Maybe I just forgot how much I love scones because I don’t have them very often. Maybe it’s because I made them with my HUGE CSA blueberries. These were really really delicious. We ate them warm from the oven with fresh blueberries, nectarines & pluots on the side.

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen’s Very Blueberry Scones. Fabulous!

Yield: 8 scones

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons raw (turbinado) or light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) milk, whole is best here
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon raw (tubinado) or other coarse sugar for finishing

  1. Heat oven to 400¬įF convection. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flours, zest, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add cold butter and work into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas with either your fingertips or a pastry blender.
  4. Stir in blueberries, then milk, mixing only until large clumps form. Use your hands to reach inside the bowl and gently (so gently) combine the mixture into one mass. The more you knead, the wetter the dough will get as the blueberries break up, so work quickly and knead only a few times. (I mixed it just until it came together- I think it keeps the scones more tender.)
  5. Transfer dough to a well-floured counter and pat into a roughly 1-inch tall disc. Cut into 8 wedges, do not fret if the blueberries are now making a mess of the dough; it will all work out in the oven.
  6. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, spacing them apart. Brush the tops of each with egg, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  7. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until scones are golden brown on top. Serve warm. I find most scones to be best the first day, but they can be eaten on day two, gently rewarmed in the oven before eating.

Note: If freezing: Scones can be frozen unbaked. Hold any egg wash until ready to bake. Simply spread the wedges on a baking sheet and chill until frozen solid and will no longer stick to each other, and pack tightly into a freezer bag. You can bake them right from the freezer; you’ll only need 2 to 4 minutes extra baking time.

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Strawberry Slab Pie

Despite being overbooked with so many end of the school year activities- orchestra concerts, dance recitals, field days, parties- we have to squeeze in strawberry picking! The resulting year supply (a well-rationed year supply, mind you!) of strawberry-vanilla bean jam makes it SO worth it!!

After making my special jam, I love to try a new recipe to use our overflowing 8 quarts of mouthwatering strawberries. ūüôā This year the first new one was this amazing slab pie. The juice from the fresh berries resulted in a very syrupy pie. oozing… It also had a lovely hint of orange flavor. The crust was over the top buttery as well. Mmmmm.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe contributed by Joanne Chang. I adapted the recipe to bake in a convection oven. Fabulous!

Yield: 6-8 servings

For the Pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse¬†salt
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and chilled
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cold whole milk
  • baking spray

For the Filling & Pie:

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered (4 cups)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sanding or turbinado sugar

To Make the Pastry:

  1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, sugar and salt and mix at low speed.
  2. Add the butter and mix at medium speed until almost incorporated, with some pecan-size pieces remaining, about 1 minute.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the milk.
  4. With the machine on, drizzle the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the pastry just starts to come together, about 30 seconds; it will be crumbly.
  5. Scrape the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Using the heel of your hand, smear the pastry against the work surface to work in the butter. Form the pastry into a 1-inch-thick disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350¬į (on convection, if possible).
  7. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving 
3 inches of overhang on all sides.
  8. Cut one-third of the pastry off of the disk. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the smaller piece of pastry to an 8-inch square; transfer to a parchment paper‚Äďlined baking sheet and refrigerate.
  9. Roll out the larger piece of pastry to a 12-inch square, about 1/4 inch thick. Ease the pastry into the prepared pan, pressing it into the corners and up the sides; trim the excess pastry, leaving no overhang.
  10. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for about 25 minutes (convection) or up to 30 minutes (standard oven), until just pale golden and set. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Transfer the pan to a rack and let 
the crust cool completely.

To Make the Pie:

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the granulated sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and salt.
  2. Spread the filling in the pastry crust.
  3. Cover with the chilled piece of pastry crust, gently pressing it down around the edges.
  4. Brush the top with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sanding sugar.
  5. Using a sharp paring knife, make six 2-inch-long slits in the top pastry.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes (convection) or up to 50 minutes (standard oven), until the crust is deep golden.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool, at least 3 hours. Carefully lift the pie out of the pan and transfer to a platter before serving.

Note: The pie can be kept at room temperature overnight.

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Vanilla-Bean Sablés

I learned so many things from this recipe! My first lesson was to learn that the sabl√©, a simple shortbread cookie, is the French equivalent of the American chocolate chip cookie. The “icon.” Greenspan says that these cookies are really known for their fine texture (sabl√© means sandy)- “snappy around the edges, cakier in the center- its fresh butter flavor and, often, its bit of saltiness.” I HAD to try her version- what an irresistible description!! ūüôā

Typically, the sugar and butter in cookie dough are mixed until light and fluffy. My next lesson was learning that in order to achieve the desired sandy texture in these cookies, the sugar and butter are mixed only until a smooth consistency is achieved (much less) so that air is not incorporated into the dough.

My third (most exciting!) lesson was learning how to achieve super-tight cookie logs! Greenspan includes her party-trick technique (with photos in the book) that I describe below to share with you. Worked perfectly. LOVE it!!

This recipe is from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. Delicious and pretty cookies- perfect for dessert, a snack, or with a cup of tea.

I’m sharing these with my friends for Fiesta Friday #60 at The Novice Gardener- Enjoy!!

Yield: about 36 cookies

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 moist, fragrant vanilla beans
  • 2 sticks (8 oz; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Edging:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • coarse sanding sugar or turbinado sugar
  1. Put the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the pulp over the sugar. (I save the pods in a jar filled with turbinado sugar to make vanilla sugar.) Using your fingertips, rub the vanilla pulp into the sugar until it’s fragrant.
  3. Add the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt to the bowl and beat on low speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy (you DON’T want it to get light and fluffy), scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Drop in the egg yolk and beat for 1 minute.
  5. Add the flour all at once and pulse the mixer on and off to start incorporating it into the dough. Mix on low speed just until the flour has disappeared (or do this last little bit by hand with a flexible spatula).
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log about 9 inches long. (**Trick to get really tight logs (perfectly round and free of air pockets): Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Place the cookie log one-third in and parallel to one short edge. Fold the remaining two-thirds of the parchment paper over the log. Grab the bottom edge of the parchment with one hand and place a ruler on top of the overlaying parchment with the other hand. Wedge the ruler against the bottom of the log. Push the ruler under the log at the same time that you pull the bottom paper toward you. Don’t be afraid to aggressively push and pull- it will result in a firm log. Lift the paper off of the dough.**)
  7. Wrap the logs in parchment and/or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (They can be wrapped airtight and put in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let the logs sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting and baking; no need to fully defrost.) I place them in a wrapping paper tube in order to ensure that they keep their round shape in the refrigerator.
  8. To Bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  9. Add a splash of cold water to the yolk and mix with a fork to blend. Brush each log with this egg wash and roll it in sanding sugar until it’s evenly coated.
  10. Using a sturdy knife, trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged, then cut the dough int 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place them on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake the cookies for 14 to 15 minutes (on convection) or for up to 18 to 22 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies are baked when they are brown around the edges and golden on the bottom.
  12. Carefully transfer them to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. These cookies really shouldn’t be eaten warm; they need time to cool so that their texture will set properly. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about¬†one week.

Variations:

  • Lemon Sabl√©s: Rub the grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Orange Sabl√©s: Rub the grated zest of 1 orange into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Nut Sabl√©s: Lightly toast 1/2 cup hazelnuts (skin them while they are still warm), almonds, pistachios, or other nuts, finely chop them and mix them into the dough once the flour is incorporated.

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