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dried fruit

Baking

Apricot Cherry Oat Bara Brith Loaf Recipe

apricot cherry oat bara brith

Bara Brith is a lovely Welsh snacking cake. It is quick to prepare but very hearty. Bara Brith means speckled bread in Welsh.  It is a delicately sweet loaf that is loaded with dried fruits that soak in strong tea overnight. I have added a bit of rum to the tea to smooth out those black tea tannin flavours. The rum is optional, but it really brings together the tea and dried fruit flavours very well.  But, by all means, leave out the rum, if you must. It is completely optional.

I have added in loads of extra flavour components to really make the flavours of this Apricot Cherry Oat Bara Brith pop! There is maple syrup, marmalade, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger as well as demerara brown sugar and dried fruit. The aromas coming from the oven are to die for!

 

apricot cherry oat bara brith

Bara Brith has been made in Wales for over one hundred years and was traditionally eaten on St. David’s Day or Christmas day, thickly sliced and slathered in butter. It has fallen from popularity in the last ten years and therefore some major supermarkets have removed it from their shelves. Traditional Bara Brith is made with currants. In this recipe I have used a combination of dried apricots and dried cherries which go really well together. And the oats add a lovely texture to this baked treat.

This Apricot Cherry Oat Bara Brith makes a lovely addition to packed lunches. It is also excellent with morning coffee or your afternoon tea. Not bad with your favourite program or movie after dinner either.

 

apricot cherry oat bara brith

Next time you are in the mood to bake a sweet treat for your family, try this Apricot Cherry Oat Bara Brith. It’s really hits the spot.

Apricot Cherry Oat Bara Brith

Print Recipe
Serves: 8-10 Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 75 g dried cherries
  • 175 g dried apricots
  • 250 mL of strong black tea
  • 2 Tbsp rum
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • 2 T marmalade
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g medium sized oats
  • 100 grams whole wheat flour
  • 250 g white flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 175 grams demerara sugar
  • 2 T maple surup
  • 2 T milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger

Instructions

1

Soak the dried fruit in the strong black tea and rum (optional) in a bowl overnight.

2

Next day: Preheat oven to 350 F. degrees

3

Drain the dried fruit mixture.

4

Mix together the melted butter and marmalade. When this mixture is cool, add in the two eggs.

5

Mix together the flour, oats, baking powder and brown sugar and spices.

6

Add the butter, marmalade, egg mixture to the flour. Add in the milk and maple syrup.

7

The batter should be able to drop from a spoon. If it is too thick, add in more milk.

8

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

9

Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan.

10

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top starts to over brown before the cake is done, cover the top of the cake with tin foil and continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean.

11

Cool cake in the pan for about 5-10 minutes. Then remove onto a rack.

12

Wait until the cake is cold before cutting. About 1-2 hours.

13

Serve as is or with butter.

14

Enjoy!

Baking

Tomato Soup Cake

tomato soup cake with coffee mug

A favourite snacking cake when I was growing up was Tomato Soup Cake. My mom would make it for lunches or for an after-school snack.  She got the recipe from my paternal grandmother, after her and my Dad were married so she could bake it for him. Tomato Soup Cake has been around a long time and was a family favourite back when my Dad was growing up on the farm in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

We always loved this cake and never once questioned the name of it. It didn’t taste or smell like tomatoes but was a beautiful rose colour with a spicy aroma. Once, while having lunch at school (which I seldom did), my friends asked what kind of cake I was eating. “Tomato Soup Cake”, I answered. Ooooh! was their negative response. I was in grade 7 and had never imagined that as a response to this delicious cake. But that never deterred me from loving this cake. My friends didn’t know what they were missing. My Mum’s Tomato Soup Cake was rose-hued, warm with spices and sweet with plump raisins. With four always-hungry children in the family and a husband who grew up snacking on this cake on the family farm, my Mum’s baking never lasted long.

Tomato Soup Cake is a fantastic snacking cake and one that you will definitely want to add to your baking repertoire. Perfect for a ‘Retro Party” but also modern in flavour, colour and scent, this delicious cake checks off all the boxes for something easy, quick and yummy to bake up either for afternoon tea with friends, to pop into someone’s lunch kit, or an after dinner dessert. This rose-coloured moist cake, aromatic with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and dotted with plump raisins is just so good. You can serve it with cream cheese icing, but my Mom just served it up plain, or sprinkled with icing sugar. It’s so moist, sweet and heavenly-scented with spices that you really don’t need extra icing. But you could add it if you prefer the extra creamy sweetness.

When I got married, a friend of my mom’s gave me a cake pan, a wooden spoon and her recipe for Tomato Soup Cake. I thought that was the sweetest gift! Now I bake Tomato Soup Cake for my own kids. Everyone in our family loves it.

slice of tomato soup cake

Enjoy!

Tomato Soup Cake

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 c. shortening
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 10-ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2

Mix together the flour, baking powder and spices.

3

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.

4

Mix soup, water and baking soda.

5

Let this mixture sit for a few minutes, then stir into butter/egg/sugar mixture.

6

Stir in dry ingredients and raisins.

7

Spoon batter into a greased 13 X 9 inch pan.

8

Bake 55 minutes or until golden brown.

More reading about Tomato Soup Cake

The History behind Campbell’s Tomato Soup Cake

A Good Little Read from The Kitchn about Tomato Soup Cake

Baking

Chocolate and Ginger Welsh Cakes Recipe

traditional welsh cakes

I absolutely love Welsh Cakes: their delicate taste and subtle sweetness. They are the perfect treat to have with tea or coffee.

The first time I ever had them was many years ago during my first visit to Wales with my friend Bonnie during our year long adventure. We visited Bonnie’s Aunts, The Bettys (they were both named Betty) who lived in a small village near Swansea on a hilly street (though maybe that’s a given in Wales….I remember all of the streets being hilly) lined with row houses – each one a different colour.

The Bettys put out a proper tea for us everyday around 4 pm. A table laden with cheese and crackers, cakes, bread and butter, fruit and devonshire cream, tea and of course, welsh cakes. I had never had welsh cakes before, but during our stay, I just couldn’t get enough of them.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

Welsh cakes are a cross between a scone and a cookie but cooked like a pancake in a hot skillet on top of the stove and are divine. They are slightly crisp on the outside but tender and crumbly inside. Welsh Cakes are made with flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, egg, milk. The traditional cakes are loaded with currants and sprinkled with sugar and are subtly sweet and delicate.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

Welsh cakes (or pice ar y maen – cakes on the stone, in welsh) are so fast to whip up. They take, at the most, an hour from start to finish. They are fantastic for the beginner baker as they are so simple to make. And they have ‘homemade’ written all over them, as I can’t imagine too many bakeshops spending time cooking these up on a stovetop individually.

They taste best the day they are made or the day after. If you don’t think you will eat them all up within the first 24 hours, you could cut some out and freeze them uncooked until you are ready to cook some more.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

I always make Traditional Welsh Cakes with currants and white sugar sprinkled on top, but this time I tried a new variation with dark chocolate and chopped crystallized ginger with demerara sugar sprinkled over the cakes when they were still warm. Eaten warm from the skillet, the dark chocolate inside is slightly molten and the ginger is soft and lightly scented. My family loved both.

traditional welsh cakes

Welsh cakes were originally baked for miners to carry in their pockets down into the mines. A hearty snack and a taste of home while they were working in the cold, dark mines down below. Try popping one into a loved ones lunch to brighten their day.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

Here are a few variations that are made around Wales as well as in other places.

Jam Split: Popular in South Wales, the cakes are split open and spread with jam inside.

Apple Dragon: Add some grated apple to the mixture to make your cakes more moist.

The Newport Lovely: These are made by the men of Newport for their girlfriends as a wedding gift or engagement gift.

Mynydd Cymreig (Welsh Mountain): These are made in North Wales with two times the amount of baking powder in them, for loftier cakes.

The Kiwi Cake: Welsh cakes have been made in New Zealand for many years, they just call them Kiwi Cakes.

If you try a different variation, let me know. Enjoy!

Chocolate and Ginger Welsh Cakes

Print Recipe
Serves: 15-18 Cooking Time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250 grams white unbleached flour
  • 120 grams butter, cold, diced
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 55 grams white sugar
  • 45 grams cyrstallized ginger, chopped fine
  • 25 grams dark chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tbsp strong coffee
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom

Instructions

1

Stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, spices

2

Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs

3

Stir in sugar and ginger and chocolate chips.

4

Mix in the egg.

5

Add coffee until a nice soft dough is formed.

6

Roll out on a tabletop sprinkled with flour.

7

Cut out welsh cakes with any round shape approximately 7.5 to 8 cm in diameter. I used a drinking glass.

8

Heat a skillet on the stovetop on medium heat. Add a very tiny amount of butter.

9

Place a few welsh cakes in pan, with some space surrounding each one. Do not overfill skillet. You need room to flip them over.

10

When the underside is a nice golden colour, flip over and cook the other side.

11

Remove from skillet when both sides are done.

12

Let cool on a baking rack.

13

Sprinkle with demerara sugar. You can do this either in the pan while the second side is cooking, or while they are on the baking rack. Either will work fine

14

Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

If you want to freeze some welsh cakes for later, you can either freeze some cooked welsh cakes in a ziplock bag. Or you can cut them out and freeze the uncooked cakes. To do this, cut out the welsh cakes, place them on parchment paper on a tray and freeze until firm. Then place them in a ziplock bag or plastic container, layered with parchment paper in between. To cook, simply defrost the cakes and then cook following the instructions above.

Baking

Honey Maple Whole Oat Granola Recipe

honey maple whole oat granola

 

This is a fantastic recipe for Honey Maple Whole Oat Granola. It is chock full of dried fruit, nuts and toasty oats.

When I was a teenager I went through a phase of making granola for practically every big gathering with my friends.  I made granola for potluck dinners, going away parties and camping trips. Whatever the event,  I would be there with a 3 pound bag of my latest granola invention.

Granola is super easy to make. You don’t really need a recipe to make granola, but it is good to have a basic one to know the proportions of wet to dry ingredients as well as the amount of fruit and nuts to use. Homemade granola is also much healthier as it is lower in sugar and salt than store bought. And just by changing the sweeteners and using an assortment of nuts, dried fruit, and grains you can make hundreds of different combinations.

You could increase the sweetness to go on top of an apple crumble or to sprinkle on ice cream for dessert. Use less sweetener for a breakfast granola, or extra nuts for energy snacks for hikes or bike rides. A handful of chocolate chips or chocolate nibs after baking adds a burst of sweetness for a fantastic boost in energy. Excellent sweeteners to use range from maple syrup in the spring when the sap is running or honey in the fall when farmer’s market stalls are bursting with pails of wild flower, clover or buckwheat honey.

My son and I really like this granola for breakfast or snack with yogurt. It’s not too sweet and the cinnamon and ginger adds a lovely hint of flavour.

granola and yogurt in glass with blue napkin

Honey Maple Whole Oat Granola with Vanilla and Cinnamon

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-16 Cooking Time: 30

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 1/4 cup whole oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, chopped

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

3

Melt the honey, butter, vanilla and maple syrup in a small pot on the stove or in a bowl in the microwave.

4

Mix together the two oats and spices. Pour the liquid into the oat mixture and stir to combine.

5

Pour onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread out the oat mixture a bit, but not too thin as the individual oats will cook too fast and dry out or burn.

6

Bake granola for 10-12 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes then add: the cranberries, raisins and chopped almonds.

7

Continue cooking for about 5 minutes more, until oats are starting to turn golden, then remove from oven.

8

Put the tray on a wire rack. Leave the granola on the tray until cool. Store in a cool, dark place.

frozen rosebud close-up

icy rosebud

Baking

Classic Cream Scones with Orange and Cranberry Recipe

orange cranberry scones on rack

Scones are my favourite go-to treat ever. I love them with tea for a morning snack, in the afternoon with a mug of hot cocoa as well as in the evening spread with jam. This recipe of Classic Cream Scones with Orange and Cranberry is certainly not a low-fat scone, and as it’s made with ample cream and butter you don’t really need to spread it with more butter. Add a dollop of jam if you want to amp up the sweetness.

These scones come together very fast. As such, they make a particularly perfect gift for any occasion. They would be the ideal thing to make for a new mom with a newborn, a neighbour who needs cheering up, a bake sale at your local church or school, or a fundraiser for flood relief, or a sports team. They make an excellent thank you gift for a neighbour who has been collecting your mail, shovelled your driveway after a big snowstorm, or cut your grass when you couldn’t get to it.

orange cranberry scones on a baking pan

I baked a few dozen of these scones last November for my son’s high school Craft Fair. They sold out within a couple of hours. Many people came back to my table to tell me how amazing they were. I made a few different variations but the Cranberry Orange Scones were the most popular. You could also make cinnamon and raisin, chocolate chip or chopped ginger. I’ll make some more variations in the future and post the recipes.

orange cranberry scones with jam on a cutting board with thank you card

Classic Cream Scones with Orange and Cranberry

Print Recipe
Serves: 8 Cooking Time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces all-purpose flour)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 cup whipping cream

Instructions

1

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2

Put dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse 3-5 pulses. Add cubes of butter and orange zest. Pulse until butter-flour mixture is blended together like bread crumbs, it's ok to have a few larger pieces.

3

Pour into mixing bowl and add dried cranberries and stir until cranberries are coated in flour, separate any stuck together. Stir in cream until a nice dough starts to form.

4

Place dough and any unmixed ingredients onto table and knead the dough until it all comes together to a nice somewhat smooth dough. Flatten out into a circle, trying to keep edges smooth, until it has a 9 inch diameter.

5

Cut the disc into 8 triangles and place each triangle on parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.

6

Bake for 5 minutes, then turn pan in oven; bake for another five minutes or so, until nicely golden on top.

7

Remove from oven and place tray on a rack. Let scones cool for 5 minutes or so on tray, then remove from tray and place on rack. You can eat them warm or at room temperature. Store in a cool dark place 2-3 days. You can also freeze the scones for about one month.

Recipe via Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.

pink rose flower

ombre pink rose in my garden