Irish Soda Bread

I guess it’s about time I post about the Irish Soda Bread I made a while back. Leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, I searched and searched for the perfect recipe, and I found one that looked rather promising. However, just before I was going to make it, I got a different recipe from a friend, who said it was amazing. So my plans changed because I just had to make this other one. However, I have no idea where the recipe comes from because I only got a picture of the ingredients and steps from the cookbook it’s in.

This bread came together pretty easily, albeit extremely messily. My hands were absolutely covered in dough despite liberal flouring, and the counters and floor looked a bit worse for wear afterwards, too.

Mine was definitely a more rustic-looking soda bread, because I might have taken the “don’t knead it until it’s smooth” bit a tad too far. Oh well. The interior was super fluffy and moist, so I’ll sacrifice aesthetics for taste for the moment.

Hot out of the oven the bread looked delicious, and it was painful to have to take pictures before digging in.

I think I’ll definitely break out the soda bread every now and then, since it’s a bread I know I can make without messing up. I’m still not BFFs with yeast yet, but I think we’re slowly becoming more fond of one another, as evidenced by the light and fluffy pizza I made on Sunday. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

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Brown Butter Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Brown butter. Oh my goodness, why didn’t I make or use this delicious thing before? I’ve been reading about brown butter everywhere, but I never took the time to actual make any of the recipes I saw. Until now. And oh boy do I wish I had done it sooner!

I’ve been craving chocolate chip cookies for a few days now, and if not for my lack of vegetable oil I would have made a batch of my regular cookies. But now I’m glad for my kitchen not being fully stocked. How Sweet It Is posted these Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies, and wow are they good!

They’re more than just a regular chocolate chip cookie. The cinnamon and oatmeal create a banana bread-y flavor, and there’s also an extra bit of a spicy kick in your throat. So not only are they like a hybrid cookie, they are exciting cookies!

These cookies are also super soft, but ever so slightly crumbly.

I rolled the first batch into balls like the recipe said, and they didn’t spread out much at all. I pressed down the second batch a bit and they spread out more, but still stayed nice and thick. Of the two, I’m more a fan of how the second batch turned out.

The brown butter was much more evident in the cookie dough than in the final product, which is slightly unfortunate. There are hints of it working with the cinnamon and the banana bread-y flavor, but it’s definitely not as prevalent once baked.

All in all, this was a delicious little foray into the world of brown butter and alternate types of chocolate chip cookies. Delicious results overall!

Happy Pi Day!

I have to admit, I completely forgot about Pi Day this year. But for a very good reason. My mind has been in such a St. Patrick’s Day mood that I’ve only been thinking about baked goods for that holiday. You would think that if there is a fun occasion for baking I would be on top of all of them, but I guess not. At least not when they’re close to March 17th. 🙂

Even though it’s spring break I have a ton of work to do, but this gorgeous weather is teasing me and I can’t help but stare longingly out my windows at the beautiful clear blue sky. Who could blame me?

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Spring is certainly on its way. I feel like we almost don’t deserve it because of the extremely mild winter we’ve had. It sort of feels like cheating. Oh well, who am I to turn my nose up at what we’ve been given.

Okay, back to celebrating Pi Day!

As soon as I saw what day it was, I scrambled to find something to bake. A fruit pie wasn’t an option because I don’t have enough fruit for one, nor did I want to consume an entire pie myself. Pizza pie, shepherd’s pie, all savory pies were out because the weather right now just doesn’t warrant comfort foods. Ah ha! I can cheat the system! I don’t have to make a pie at all.

And thus my purple Pi-shaped sugar cookies were born!

I’m not even close to the first person to make these, so cheating doesn’t actually seem so bad. It’s in the shape of Pi, so it totally counts!

This is the first time I’ve ever really tried to make sugar cookies with the intention of flooding them. I’m not usually one to even make sugar cookies in the first place, because I can never find a recipe I really like. I’m super picky about them. In this case, I used The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies from Allrecipes.com.  I approve of these ones. Wholeheartedly.

These Pi cookies gave me a chance to break out the tiny piping tips and the couplers I bought back in January and haven’t used yet. I’m a big fan of couplers now, just gonna put that out there.

Not too bad a job, right? I was actually GIDDY when I took these pictures. I am so easily amused by success with baked goods.

This was also the first time I’ve made my own royal icing. I’ve done the gingerbread house thing before, so handling it isn’t new to me, but I’ve never made it from scratch. I used the recipe with egg whites on Joyofbaking.com.

I also got to use the Wilton gel food coloring I got at the same time as the tips. I’m amazed at how little I used and how VIOLET they turned out. The tiny pot is certainly going to last a LONG time. Yay for my wallet!

The only complaint I had about these cookies was that they took FOR. EV. ER. to make. It might have sped the process along if I didn’t have to cut out the cookies with a template, but I can’t complain too much because I love the final product. I ended up cutting/freezing/baking three at a time because that’s how little time it took the dough to come to room temperature and get super sticky.

It was a long process, but I got to learn new things and hone some skills I didn’t know I possessed. In the end it was totally worth it.

Happy Pi Day! I promise I won’t forget next year!

SUCCESS!!!

Biscoff consumption has begun to decrease in the suite as of late. No, it’s not that we’re getting sick of it. It’s the exact opposite, actually, we still love it and want to take baths in it every day. The reason we haven’t been eating it is far more depressing: I can’t find it at Trader Joe’s! The unthinkable happened so much sooner than I expected. I went to the store a few days ago and went to its supposed location, but it was no where to be found! You have no idea how heartbroken I was at this discovery. There were so many things I hadn’t made yet and so many spoonfuls I hadn’t consumed. Oh TJ’s, why must you break my heart into a million pieces. Looking at prices on Amazon also broke my heart, because even though I love it, I will NOT pay nearly $10 for a jar. No way. I can’t believe my love affair with Biscoff  has ended after only one jar. I’ll look again when I go shopping next week, but I won’t be too optimistic, so that my heart doesn’t break all over again.

Despite the sorrow we have been experiencing, we’ve had to persevere and get our work done. Midterms are over and the final spring break of my life has officially begun. This is my last official school vacation, and I’m having some mixed feelings about it. I still have April vacation when I don’t have to go to work, but this is still the end of an era for me. Seventeen years of schooling is almost over and it’s absolutely terrifying to think that I’m almost a real adult. Almost a real adult who will soon (HOPEFULLY) have a real job and a real apartment . . . and real bills (yuck!).

But I’m not going to dwell on that anymore right now. Instead I want to celebrate my victory over the dreaded kitchen demon yeast. I have a very mixed history with this leavening agent, and I’ve never really had much luck with it, save for when I make cinnamon rolls. I’m happy to report that that all changed with last night’s dinner.

I was checking the usual baking blogs in the morning, and what did I happen to find but the yummiest looking pizza ever! How Sweet It Is never fails to disappoint, and this Garlic Bread Pizza Crust takes the cake! I was a bit wary because of the yeast, so just to be sure it would work and rise well, I went to the store (not Trader Joe’s) and bought a different brand entirely, and after the results I think I’m going to stick with it from now on. I also took the time to meticulously measure the temperature of the water (yay multipurpose candy thermometer!), so that could have been a factor in my favor as well.

The dough was so soft and pliable and easy to manipulate. It came together really quickly, but it was a bit on the sticky side from time to time as the flour worked into it from the kneading surface. It rose amazingly well during the hour and a half wait time, but it was torture to have such a great smell in the kitchen that I couldn’t devour for such a long time. That’s another thing: this dough smells phenomenal! The combination of yeast, olive oil, honey, and basil is heavenly!

After the rising period, I was hesitant to start rolling out the dough. I never have the best luck with getting dough into the shape I want, but once again this dough surprised and pleased me to no end. But silly me disappointed myself. I plopped the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured counter top. It plopped into a PERFECT circle and it was SO easy to press out. But . . . it was too soft to transfer to the baking sheet, so I lost the perfection and had to do it all over again on the sheet itself. It wasn’t as perfect this time, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s more important that I’ve learned from the disappointment this mistake resulted in, and I now know what not to do in the future.

The pizza was already gigantic on the baking sheet, but after rising again and baking it was INSANE! It spanned the width of the pan and was about an inch and a half thick in some places. Now that’s my kind of pizza! All I could do was stare at it for a few moments with my “It’s a mountain!” suitemate. We were in awe!

There are no words for how well the smell translated into taste. The crust was everything I expected: fluffy, tender, flavorful, buttery, GARLICKY, and cheesy. The cheese and sauce were a bit lacking in flavor though, so I sprinkled on some more Parmesan and cracked some garlic pepper. Much better. I think this is definitely a crust that works better with some additional salt and punch, so I’ll have to expand my pizza cheese horizons beyond shredded mozzarella. I also probably shouldn’t use my go-to spaghetti sauce on it either, because it needs a sauce with more depth of flavor. Next time there will also definitely be pepperoni and maybe a drizzling of olive oil in the last few minutes in the oven. Looks like I’ll be experimenting soon!

You also wouldn’t go wrong with just making the dough alone and bathing it in extra butter/garlic/Parmesan instead of making a pizza. I just wanted to keep eating the outer crust, cheese and sauce be darned! It’s so addicting!