Category Archives: Baking

Bara Brith for St.David’s Day

As my wife originates from Wales I try to cook up something Welsh related on March 1st every year to celebrate the feast day of St.David. Last year it was Welsh cakes; this year I turned to another famous baked item from Wales: bara brith.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comBara brith translates from the Welsh into “speckled bread”, a fruity loaf made with dried fruit and mixed spices. The fruit is traditionally steeped in tea overnight to enhance the flavour, and the loaf is typically served sliced and buttered with a cup of tea.

Mixed spice is a peculiarly British blend that seems to have no direct equivalent in the States. The closest thing in the USA is pumpkin pie spice but that is usually too heavy on the cinnamon for my liking, so I mix my own blend from allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, coriander and ginger.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comThis is a relatively simple recipe. It just needs a little forward planning to soak the fruit in tea the day before you plan to bake it.

Enjoy, and have a happy St.David’s Day, or dydd gŵyl dewi hapus.

Bara Brith

Based on this recipe

1lb dried mixed fruit  (I used a 50/50 mix of sundried raisins and golden raisins)

9oz brown sugar

10 fl.oz. warm black tea (I made a strong brew of English Breakfast Tea)

2 tsp mixed spice (see recipe below)

1lb self raising flour

1 egg, beaten

Mix the fruit and the sugar with the tea and leave to steep overnight.

The following day, preheat the oven to 325F.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comSieve the flour into the fruit and tea mix and then add the mixed spice and the egg. Mix well.

Pour the mix into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper.

Put in the oven and bake for around 70-75 minutes. The bara brith is done when a skewer stuck into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

bara brith from britinthesouth.com

Mixed Spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

0.5 tsp ground mace

0.25 tsp ground ginger

0.25 tsp ground coriander

0.25 tsp ground cloves

Mix the spices together until thoroughly blended. Store in a sealed container. As well as using in this recipe this is a versatile mix that can also be used in other British baking recipes like fruit cake and hot cross buns.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

“Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread”

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comIt is not usually a good thing to have something lurking about your kitchen for years on end, quietly fermenting, but when the item is question is a sourdough starter it is a wonderful thing indeed. It requires a little care and attention and regular feeding but pays back time and time again, adding that gorgeous sour tang to breads and pizza dough.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comMy starter is a relative youngster, which will celebrate its 5th birthday later this year. I sometimes use it to make”real” sourdough bread, without the need for added yeast, but that takes a little forward planning, so often, when feeding time rolls around, I take the cup of unfed sourdough starter that would otherwise be discarded and use it to add a delicious sour dough note to a conventionally made dough. Usually that is just a loaf or a batch of pizza dough but occasionally I feel like doing something different.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comAs I write this we’re in the middle of that cold post-Christmas stretch of January when spring seems so far away. I’m cooking a lot of soups and stews and wanted something a little different on the bread front to go with a batch of soup. Months ago I’d jotted down an idea for adding cheddar and cider to bread and now seemed like an ideal time to experiment. When I say cider, I always mean what is known as “hard cider” in the USA, i.e. the one with alcohol in it.

The recipe is similar to one I use for making regular bread but instead of water I used cider, a bottle of homemade from 2012 which was still surprisingly good, and I added a generous amount of grated cheddar. This will work best with a strong and/or aged cheddar. I used one that was a bit like me: aged and English.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comThe dough came together easily in a mixer with a dough hook and after rising it was simply a case of dividing and shaping it into rolls and arranging them in a skillet to rise again before cooking.

I was delighted with the result. The bread was soft and delicious with both the cider and cheese coming through in the final bread but in a subtle way. It was tasty enough to eat by itself, but even better with butter or a hunk of cheese, and it made a great accompaniment to home made soup.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread

1 cup unfed sourdough starter

1 cup cider

1 tsp salt

1 tsp instant yeast

2.5 cups all purpose flour

2 cups grated cheddar

Put all the ingredients in a bowl. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook but you could do it by hand of you prefer. Knead for 6-7 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave until it has doubled in size. Don’t worry if it takes a while: my dough took about 4 hours.

Place the risen dough on a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate it and then and divide and shape into 7 equal sized rolls. Line an ovenproof skillet with baking parchment and arrange the rolls into a “daisy” pattern as shown below. Make sure the rolls are touching each other.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comCover and leave to rise again for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Just before putting the dough in the oven give the top of the bread a quick spritz of water from a spray bottle to help get a golden crust. Cook until golden brown on top and the base sounds hollow when you give it a tap, about 40 minutes.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles

This idea came to me as I was trying to think of a little something to take along to a Halloween party.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.comEvery year as Halloween approaches the beer shelves in local stores seem to groan under the weight of an ever increasing selection of pumpkin beers. One local brewpub even serves a draught version straight out of a giant pumpkin.

I have to confess that I’m not a huge fan of drinking pumpkin beer as it comes but I thought it would make a great ingredient in pumpkin bread, adding moisture and flavour. I could then use the beery bread as the basis for an autumnal chocolate treat.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.com
I used this recipe to make the pumpkin bread although you could simplify things by just buying some. I tweaked the recipe a bit. I had an abundance of butternut squash from my CSA box so roasted that and used it instead of pumpkin puree, and I reduced the amount of cinnamon used as I can find it overwhelming in many desserts at this time of year. It is easy to adjust the cinnamon and other flavourings as you make the truffles to get just the right amount of pumpkin spice goodness.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.com
Luckily I didn’t need all the bread for the truffle recipe and enjoyed a few slices for breakfast this week. A recipe I will definitely be making again.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles

8oz pumpkin bread

2oz agave syrup

1oz unsalted butter

0.5 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Salt

8oz dark chocolate

Nutmeg (optional)

Crumble the pumpkin bread into a bowl. Melt the agave syrup and butter together in a small pan over medium heat.

Pour the syrup mixture over the crumbled bread and mix well to combine. Add cinnamon if required and a pinch of salt.

Melt 4oz of the dark chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Add the melted chocolate to the bread and syrup mixture and stir to combine. At this point you can sneak a little taste to check if any adjustments to the seasoning is required.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.comWhen cool, place in the refrigerator for an hour or two until the mixture is firm.

Taking a teaspoon full of the mixture at a time, roll into balls to form the centres of the truffles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then return to the fridge to firm up again.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.comMelt the remaining 4oz of dark chocolate for the coating in a double boiler. Dip the truffle centres in the melted chocolate to coat and place on baking parchment to set.

You can enjoy them as they are or sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg or whatever takes your fancy to get another burst of flavour.

Yield: 25 truffles

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.com

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Blueberry and Mascarpone Tart with a Pecan Crust

Blueberry and Mascarpone Tart with a Pecan Crust from britinthesouth.com Oliver Farm is located about 150 miles south of Atlanta and has been owned and operated by the same family for five generations. In recent years they have started producing cold pressed oils from pecans, sunflowers and peanuts, as well as pecan flour.

I discovered them at a local farmers market and picked up a bag of their pecan flour as well as a bottle of pecan oil. They sat in my kitchen for a while as I pondered what to make with them, before I came up with the genius idea of checking out the recipe suggestions on the Oliver’s own website. A few caught my eye but I was particularly intrigued by the “pecan pat-in crust” recipe which used both the oil and the flour and seemed both simple and versatile.

Blueberry and Mascarpone Tart with a Pecan Crust from britinthesouth.comHaving made my crust the next question was what to fill it with. Luckily, our CSA box from Riverview Farms has been supplying us with an abundance of blueberries in recent weeks so I combined the sweet berries with a rich creamy filling of eggs, mascarpone and vanilla to complement the pecan crust.

The result is a tasty and eye catching dessert that is quick and easy to make.

Blueberry and Mascarpone Tart with a Pecan Crust

For the crust (taken from this recipe for “Pecan Pat-In Crust” at oliverfarm.com)

1 cup pecan halves

0.5 cup pecan flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons of pecan oil (or substitute vegetable oil)

For the filling

1 egg

8oz Mascarpone

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

A few drops of Vanilla Extract

8oz Blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350F and position rack in the middle of the oven. Place the pecans, flour and sugar in a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely ground. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and pulse again briefly. Then check to see if the mix is sticking together. If it isn’t, add a little more oil and blitz again in the food processor. Once the ingredients are combined put the mixture into a pie dish and use your fingers to press it evenly across the bottom and up the side of the dish. This quantity will fill a 9″ pie plate, or you can do as I did and use two 4″ cases  to make two smaller tarts. Bake for around 10 minutes until the crust is dry to the touch and starting to colour a little. Remove the oven and set aside to cool.

Blueberry and Mascarpone Tart with a Pecan Crust from britinthesouth.comFor the mascarpone layer, separate an egg and then beat the yolk with the tablespoon of powdered sugar. Stir in the mascarpone and a few drops of vanilla extract. Beat the egg white until stiff and then fold into the mascarpone mixture. Spread this on the pecan crust and place in the fridge to set.

Finally, arrange the blueberries on top of the tart. Keep chilled until you are ready to enjoy.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sourdough Pancakes with Serviceberry Syrup

When I lived in Britain I had a pretty good grasp of plants that I could forage for locally: wild garlic and hops in the spring, blackberries in late summer, sloes in the autumn.

Sourdough Pancakes with Serviceberry Syrup from britinthesouth.comMoving to Georgia meant a different seasonal calendar as well as new, unfamiliar plants. One fruit that was totally new to me was the serviceberry, also known as the juneberry or saskatoon berry. I first heard about them through the work of Concrete Jungle, an Atlanta based non profit that harvests fruit and nuts from thousands of untended trees around the city and donates them to the poor and hungry. Their map of food sources in the area shows an abundance of serviceberry trees around the city. Last year I stumbled upon a solitary tree on public property in my neighbourhood and tried these delicious, sweet little purple-red berries for myself. This year I managed to pick a few cups of berries to experiment with whilst leaving plenty for other foragers and the local birdlife.

Sourdough Pancakes with Serviceberry Syrup from britinthesouth.comI turned my haul of serviceberries into a gorgeous bright purple syrup that paired beautifully with a stack of sourdough pancakes but would also be great on waffles, or stirred into oatmeal.

Serviceberry Syrup

4 cups serviceberries

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

Add the water to the serviceberries in a saucepan and crush. I used a potato masher.

Slowly bring to the boil over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool a little and then strain through a jelly bag or muslin. This yields about 1 cup of juice.

Sourdough Pancakes with Serviceberry Syrup from britinthesouth.comAdd 1 cup of sugar to the cup of juice and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has thickened a little. Do not let it boil.

Once it is cool pour it into a jar or bottle and it will keep in the fridge for two months.

Sourdough Pancakes with Serviceberry Syrup from britinthesouth.comTo enjoy my syrup I whipped up a batch of sourdough pancakes. My go-to pancake recipe is this one from kingarthurflour.com which calls for sourdough starter and the preparation of an overnight sponge, so it takes a little planning. I found it worked perfectly for me as I left the berries to strain overnight whilst the sourdough batter bubbled and worked its magic. If you have less time on your hands this is a great alternative recipe.

Once you have a stack of freshly cooked pancakes, drizzle generously with syrup and enjoy.

Sourdough Pancakes with Serviceberry Syrup from britinthesouth.com

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sticky Toffee Pudding Truffles

Sticky toffee pudding is considered to be a British classic. A sponge cake studded with chopped dates and drizzled with toffee sauce, it is a staple on many dessert menus across the pond.

Sticky toffee pudding truffles from britinthesouth.comIt is in fact a relatively recent invention, with a number of claims and counter claims as to who exactly came up with the recipe. It first came to prominence in the 1970s at the Sharrow Bay hotel in the Lake District, who declare their version to be the original. According to this article by English chef Simon Hopkinson their recipe may have actually come from a Mrs.Martin of Lancashire whose recipe appeared in the 1971 book “The Good Food Guide Dinner Party Book”, and there is conjecture that she received the recipe some years earlier from a Canadian source. Another Lake District location, the Village Shop in Cartmel, also claims to be the birthplace of the pudding.

Whatever the origins of sticky toffee pudding, I thought it was a perfect candidate for turning into a bite sized truffle. Obviously I needed to start by making a sticky toffee pudding. Thankfully there are no shortage of recipes; it seems that almost every British chef or food writer has at some point published their own version. I opted for this version from Nigel Slater.

Sticky toffee pudding truffles from britinthesouth.comHaving produced my pudding and separate toffee sauce it was then a case of combining them with some chocolate to form the truffle centres and then coat them in yet more chocolate to finish. I was delighted with the result. The dark chocolate coating balanced with the sweetness of the centre to make a delicious treat.

Sticky toffee pudding truffles from britinthesouth.com

Sticky Toffee Pudding Truffles

4oz toffee pudding (from this recipe)

4oz toffee sauce (from this recipe)

4oz milk chocolate

6oz dark chocolate

Melt the milk chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water.

Crumble the pudding and place in a bowl. Add the toffee sauce and the melted milk chocolate and stir to combine. When cool, place in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm.

Taking a teaspoon full of the mixture at a time, roll into balls to form the centres of the truffles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then return to the fridge to firm up again.

Melt the dark chocolate for the coating in a double boiler. Dip the truffle centres in the melted chocolate to coat and place on baking parchment to set before savouring this bite sized British classic.

Crème Fraiche Drop Biscuits

“Biscuit” is probably one of the better known words which has a completely different meaning on one side of the Atlantic from the other. Back in England, biscuit brands such as Rich Tea, Digestives, Hob Nobs and Custard Creams are crunchy baked products, which Americans would call cookies and which are incredibly popular, especially when dunked into a cup of tea.

Creme fraiche drop biscuits from britinthesouth.comIn the States on the other hand, biscuits are soft, flaky and scone-like and are commonly eaten for breakfast. Here in the South, they are particularly loved and even though they are traditionally made with just a few ingredients (flour, buttermilk, lard or butter, baking powder and/or soda and a little salt), there is much debate over exactly which combinations of ingredients and techniques produce the best biscuit. I’ve tried quite a few biscuit recipes over the years before settling on a couple of reliable options which I regularly return to.

English Biscuits, britinthesouth.comI’m a fan of this recipe from Leite’s Culinaria which uses just self rising flour, butter and buttermilk but produces great results. Many Southerners swear by the legendary White Lily self rising flour which is already blended with leavening and salt, making the job even easier.

Creme fraiche drop biscuits from britinthesouth.comAn even simpler but still very tasty biscuit recipe is the one for “Miracle Drop Biscuits” from Sheri Castle’s excellent book “The New Southern Garden Cookbook“. It uses just self rising flour, heavy cream and a little butter. The recipe calls for minimal handling of the dough so they are hand shaped rather than rolled and cut, which results in a slightly craggy appearance but they are none the worse for that.

I decided to experiment with the miracle drop biscuit recipe, replacing the heavy cream with home made crème fraiche. More commonly found in Europe than here in the States it is a thick, rich, slightly sour cream that is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. Over here it can be hard to find and quite pricey when you do come across it but it is simple to make by adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream and just leaving it at room temperature for a few hours until it thickens and develops a characteristic sour flavour. It can then be kept in the fridge for a week or so.

Homemade creme fraiche from britinthesouth.comWith the added tang from the buttermilk in the crème fraiche I thought it would add another layer of flavour to the drop biscuits, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Crème Fraiche Drop Biscuits

Adapted from Sheri Castle

2 cups self rising flour (I used White Lily)

1 cup home made crème fraiche

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Creme Fraiche Drop Biscuits from britinthesouth.comPreheat oven to 475F.

Mix flour and crème fraiche together in a bowl and stir to make a soft dough.

Divide the dough by hand into 6 equal parts and place on a baking tray.

Brush the tops with melted butter and bake until golden, 12-15 minutes.

Serve warm.

Creme fraiche drop biscuits from britinthesouth.com

Lime Syrup Cake with Stoneground Cornmeal and Almonds

Spring has arrived in Georgia with the sun shining, temperatures soaring and trees bursting into blossom. However, the handful of farmers markets that open year round are still dominated by root vegetables and winter greens, and it will be a few weeks until our CSA box starts again, so our day to day eating is still heavily influenced by produce we preserved last summer and whatever is to hand in our store cupboard.

Lime Syrup Cake with Stoneground Cornmeal and Almonds from britinthesouth.comTwo things we are never short of are grits and cornmeal, which are regular features in our CSA box. Stone ground at the farm from their own organically grown corn they are great but we sometimes need to find innovative ways to work our way through them. This moist, delicious cake came about after we had picked up a huge bag of limes for just $2.99 at Buford Highway Farmers Market, and is inspired by this citrus and polenta cake recipe from the wonderful Nigel Slater.

Lime Syrup Cake with Stoneground Cornmeal and Almonds from britinthesouth.com

Lime Syrup Cake with Stoneground Cornmeal and Almonds

8oz unsalted butter

8oz cane sugar crystals (or granulated sugar)

4oz blanched almonds

3 eggs

4oz ground almonds

5oz cornmeal

1 tsp baking powder

Zest and juice of 2 limes

For the syrup:-

Zest and juice of 2 limes

4oz cane sugar crystals (or granulated sugar)

Lime Syrup Cake with Stoneground Cornmeal and Almonds from britinthesouth.com

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Beat together the butter and the sugar.

Lightly beat the eggs, and then slowly mix with the creamed butter and sugar.

Chop the blanched almonds finely and then add those and the ground almonds to the mixture.

Stir the cornmeal and baking powder together and add those to the mixture, then stir in the lime zest and juice.

Spoon the mixture into an 8″ loose bottomed cake tin lined with baking parchment. As some of my cakes were destined to be given away I used three 7″x2.5″ oven safe paper baking pans.

Lime Syrup Cake with Stoneground Cornmeal and Almonds from britinthesouth.comBake in the oven for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 325F and cook for a further 30 minutes.

For the syrup take the zest and juice of two limes and add water to make it up to 1 cup of liquid. Add the sugar, and then bring to a boil and simmer until it has reduced to around 0.75 of a cup.

Lime Syrup Cake with Stoneground Cornmeal and Almonds from britinthesouth.comMake holes in the cake with a fork or skewer and then pour over the syrup, letting it soak in, then allow the cake to cool before enjoying.

Welsh Cakes for St.David’s Day

I can claim no Welsh heritage but my wife hails from that part of the world so on March 1st every year we will find some small way to recognise the feast day of St.David, the patron saint of Wales.

Welsh Cakes from britinthesouth.comA Welsh bishop who lived in the 6th century, St.David does not get the global recognition or celebrations that St.Patrick gets later in March but his day is still widely celebrated in his homeland. Many people in Wales will wear a leek or a daffodil on March 1st in recognition of the day but as that would probably raise some eyebrows where I live I opted for a culinary celebration: a batch of humble yet delicious welsh cakes.

I hesitate to call this an old family recipe but it did come from my Welsh mother-in-law in the form of an an old postcard that is suitably tattered and stained from many years in the kitchen.

Welsh cake recipe on britinthesouth.com

I had never paid much attention to the source of the card but a little research revealed the story of Jeremiah Hoad, an accomplished artist whose work was not simply restricted to whimsical Welsh postcards. His life encompassed a range of Celtic influences. He was born in Scotland in 1924 to an Irish father and an anglo-Scottish mother. He moved to England at the age of 15 and studied at Winchester School of Art. In 1967 he moved to rural Wales and in the early 70s produced the “Lluniau Cymreig” range of postcards and prints featuring black and white line drawings of Welsh influenced themes and landscapes. From 1981 until his death in 1999 he lived in Donegal and produced many fine landscapes of that beautiful part of Ireland. You can see more of his work here.

With the impromptu art history lesson out of the way it is time to focus on the recipe. It calls for two ingredients commonly found in British baking recipes but less common on this side of the Atlantic. If you don’t have self raising flour to hand you can make it yourself by adding baking powder and salt to all purpose flour. Caster sugar is a finely ground sugar: finer than regular granulated but not as fine as powdered. It often crops up in British baking recipes as it is easier to incorporate into the other ingredients and melts faster. You can substitute “superfine” sugar or make your own by whizzing up some granulated sugar in a food processor. In this particular recipe I find you can get away with using regular granulated sugar.

Welsh Cakes

8oz all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

0.5 teaspoon salt

4oz unsalted butter

4oz sugar (granulated or caster)

1 egg

4oz currants or raisins

Pinch of salt

Milk

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Rub the butter into the flour mix. This can be done quickly and easily in a food processor.

Add the sugar, currants and a pinch of salt to the mix and combine into a soft dough. If the mix is too dry you can add a splash of milk to help bring it together.

On a floured surface, roll the dough until it is about a quarter of an inch thick and then cut circles of about 2 – 3 inches.

Lightly grease a griddle or pan with butter and then cook the cakes over a medium-low heat until they are golden on both sides, around 5 minutes per side.

Welsh Cakes from britinthesouth.comOnce cooked sprinkle lightly with sugar before enjoying.