Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Category: Bread (page 2 of 3)

Date and Walnut Loaf

This sweet, moist bread tastes great with a cup of coffee or tea.  With chopped dates and walnuts, lemon zest, and black tea as ingredients,  it has a uniquely rich flavor. It’s the kind of sweet bread that makes me want to slow down, sit in a sunny spot, and and enjoy a few moments of peace.  Dates are so old-fashioned, yet so in style again, as we are looking to get away from processed sweeteners and get back to more natural sweeteners.  Plus, they are loaded with nutrients, such as potassium and iron.  Walnuts have their own nutritional benefits too, so this bread is both rich in flavor and dense in nutrients.

DSC_0534-001Since it is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be a fitting day to share this recipe, since I found it in one of my latest cookbook obsessions–“The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle”, published by Love Food.  This type of bread is not solely Irish (it seems to have been popular in England and Scotland as well), but in any case, the recipe I share below is from an Irish cookbook.  I love the part where the recipe calls for soaking the dates and lemon zest in tea, and then adding that mixture to the batter.  The tea makes the bread such a pretty color, and gives a subtle flavor that helps balance the sweetness.

date bread in handsWe are lucky to have such bright, breezy St. Patrick’s Day this year.  I can remember some St. Patrick’s Day snowstorms, so I am happy to see the bright sunlight today!  For some reason, this bread really touched me this week.  My husband, daughter, and I loved it, (my son, not so much….) and for some reason it’s the kind of bread that made us slow down when we ate it.  It’s meant for a snack or a tea/coffee break, and it is the kind of thing that encourages contemplation and conversation, as least for me.  walnuts dates lemonMaybe because it feels old-fashioned and has the essence of a slower-paced time.  Maybe because it’s so richly flavored that we had to savor it slowly.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s been sunny the past few days, and the novelty of being in the sun has lulled us into a state of contentment.  In any case, this bread is sweet. It also tastes just as good the next day (if it lasts that long).  I hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and a great weekend! Now it’s time to join the party at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Naina @ Spice in the City and Julianna @ Foodie On Board.date bread with teapot 1crocus and rockdate bread in hand on porchdate bread in sun 2date bread loafdate bread on bench18

Date and Walnut Loaf

  • Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup of hot tea
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little more for greasing the pan
  •  1/3 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped
  • walnut halves to decorate

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease an 8 and 1/2  X  4 and 1/2  X  2 and 1/2-inch loaf pan, and then line it with parchment paper.

Place the chopped dates, baking soda, and lemon zest in a bowl, and pour in the hot tea.  Let soak for 10 minutes, until softened.

In the meantime, cream the butter and sugar together until  the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

When the dates are done soaking, add that mixture to the butter mixture and stir well to combine.  Add the flour mixture, and fold in, gently combining.  Fold in the chopped walnuts and gently combine again.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Smooth the surface and place the walnut halves on top to decorate.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden brown, and firm. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then turn it onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice it and enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle

Brown Soda Bread With Molasses

This rich, hearty, earthy bread is so satisfying, so delicately flavorful, that you will find yourself enjoying every bite.  With just a few ingredients, it is very easy to make, and you can have a homemade loaf of bread on your table in a little less than an hour.  It’s delicious for breakfast with a little butter or marmalade, or with dinner alongside a bowl of stew or soup.

soda bread with hands 4Sometimes the best things happen as a result of necessity.  I often freak out when life throws me a monkey wrench or a curve ball, but really, often, something good comes of those curve balls.  Discovering this bread recipe was one of those good things.

Yesterday, the kids and I were snowed in with no bread in the house.  After a winter with a relatively small amount of snow (for Michigan anyway), we suddenly got hit with a big snowstorm, and it snowed all day and all night.  My husband went to work amidst snow drifts and howling wind, but the kids had a snow day off of school, and I stayed home with them .  My husband barely got out of our driveway, so I knew I had a lot of shoveling to do before we went anywhere or he got home.  We also lost electricity for a few hours.  My original plans for the day vanished into the winter wind.

soda bread against whiteWhile the kids and I were sitting close to our gas fireplace to stay warm,(thank goodness for that during power outages!), I found the recipe for this tasty bread in a cookbook my mom recently gave me called The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle.  As soon as our electricity came back, I made this bread, and then made another loaf this morning.  We had it with soup last night, and with breakfast this morning.  I am really excited about this bread, because everyone in my family likes it, and it is so versatile.  It tastes rustic and homemade, yet only takes around an hour to make, including baking time.  There is just the tiniest hint of sweetness from the molasses.

DSC_0945And after raging for a few minutes about losing electricity for the second time this week due to the weather, I found myself enjoying the quiet time.  My kids and I ate pretzels and pistachios for lunch, sat around the fireplace together, and listened to music on our hand-crank-powered radio.  They went outside and built a fort in the snow, and when they came in, all their wet things dried quickly by the fireplace.  Our power came back within a few hours.  I didn’t get a lot done that day, but had quality time with my kids and made this awesome bread.

I hope you all have a great weekend! soda bread with dogsnowy pines 2I am sharing this recipe with the group of amazing bloggers at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

Brown Soda Bread with Molasses

  • Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, oats, salt, and baking soda.  In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and molasses.  If you don’t have buttermilk, substitute with regular milk and a tablespoon of vinegar.  Make a well in the flour mixture, and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well.  Gently stir the mixture together, until well combined.  Using floured hands, form the batter into a soft ball.

Shape the dough into a circle and place it on the lined baking sheet.  Press the ball gently to about 2 inches thick.  With a sharp knife with a long blade, cut a deep cross across the top.

Bake in your 450-degree oven for 15 minutes.  Then reduce the heat to 400 degrees.  Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool slightly on a wire rack, and slice.  Serve warm.  Also tastes great the next day, warmed up or toasted, or just as is. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle.

 

Oatmeal Gingerbread

Ginger, molasses, cinnamon, and cloves give this bread a deep, rich, classic gingerbread flavor.  The addition of whirred oats to the flour increases the nutritional benefits, as well as making each slice hearty and substantial.  Serve it with your favorite hot drink, and possibly some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream , and it is the perfect snack or dessert. (It works for breakfast too!)

Below, I am sharing another recipe based on one I found in Susan Wittig Albert’s fascinating book, “China Bayles’ Book of Days: 365 Celebrations of the Mystery, Myth, and Magic of Herbs from the World of Pecan Springs.”  The recipe is for a form of traditional Scottish oatmeal gingerbread.  I substitute blackstrap molasses for the treacle and bake it in a standard-sized loaf pan instead of a 7-inch square baking pan, but other than that, I stick pretty close to the recipe in the book.  And my gingerbread has come out delicious every time.  ginger oat bread with pansies 7I love the fact that this gingerbread tastes sweet and full of richly spiced flavor, yet has good nutrition in it too.  The molasses and oats contribute all kinds of good things, including iron, magnesium, manganese, not to mention fiber and protein from the oats.  When I cut a slice of this bread, it is dense and substantial.  I feel like I am doing something good for both my taste buds and my body.  And my soul too, because gingerbread is a delicious solution (however temporary) to a soul’s longing for comfort.  The smell of gingerbread baking is the iconic cozy smell, and it brings back all kinds of memories for me, of wandering through my mother’s kitchen after spending time outside in the cold.

gingerbread and teaThis is the perfect time of year to make gingerbread.  (Actually, any time between now and spring is a good time.)  When the wind is gusting right through our coats and the leaves are swirling around, we need something warm and comforting.  As I am writing this post, the wind is blowing so hard that it is rattling the windows and making the house creak.  We lose electricity quite frequently out here where I live, among so many trees, so I am hoping to get this post done before we lose power.  And hopefully, we won’t lose power.  All this dramatic weather is enough to make one feel kind of moody, wistful, nostalgic, and excited, all at the same time.  It’s a good time to indulge in the more complicated aspects of our personalities.  Maybe that’s why the multi-layered spicy taste of the gingerbread is so appealing.

gingerbread with pansies 4There is something cleansing about going out in the crazy, windy weather, especially if there is something warm waiting on the other side of the door.  This quote by L.M. Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables series (one of my favorite sets of books when I was a girl), says it perfectly:  “It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.  Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”

I hope you all have a great weekend, and that the wind blows the fogs out of your souls as well.  And that you have a hot drink and a warm piece of gingerbread waiting when you come in!  This recipe will be shared at Angie’s festive Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Judi@Cooking With Aunt Juju and Stef@The Kiwi Fruitbutter meltinggirl holding gingerbreadgingerbread with whiteNovember skywind in the oaks

Oatmeal Gingerbread

  • Servings: 8-12 pieces
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2  cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses (I prefer blackstrap molasses)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of whirred oats (make this by whirring 1/2 cup of uncooked, old fashioned rolled oats in your blender)
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a standard-sized loaf pan with butter. (You can also use a 7 inch square baking pan).  In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, granulated sugar, and molasses over medium to low heat until the butter is just melted.  Stir to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.  Add the whirred oats, brown sugar, and spices.  Stir to combine.  Add the melted butter mixture and the milk, then stir in the beaten egg.  Stir until all combined.  Pour into the greased pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then cool completely on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.  Enjoy!

 

Fresh Herb and Yogurt Biscuits

herb biscuit doughThis time of year, our bodies yearn for fresh, green food.  It has been a long winter, and we are ready for an influx of new growth.  In my yard and garden, there is not much growing yet.  We are barely out of winter, it seems.  However, there are some promising and exciting signs of spring.  Herbs are starting to poke their bright green stems and leaves through the wet, brown remains of winter.  Our chives are almost always the first to be ready, and the oregano is just starting to give some fresh growth.

crocuses after rainAnd of course the crocuses are a treat to see.  I had forgotten where I planted the daffodil bulbs last fall, so it has been fun to walk around the yard and see where there are daffodils popping up.  And the frogs!  In the evenings, the spring peepers are really starting to sing.  I love to sleep with the window cracked (even if it is a chilly night), just to listen to the frogs.

chiveschopped herbsSince I have been longing to make some kind of food from just-picked ingredients, I decided to make biscuits with chopped, fresh herbs.  We have some parsley growing in a pot at the kitchen windowsill,  and that has perked up since the spring sun has been shining through the window, and I picked some chives and some oregano from the yard.  Just picking and chopping herbs is a pleasure for me; I love the scents that are released.  Instead of the standard butter, I used plain yogurt for moisture in the biscuits.  They were delicious.  Biscuits go with almost anything–eggs, soup, or use them to make a sandwich.  The herbs give these biscuits a subtle, savory flavor.  I look forward to joining Fiesta Friday this week at The Novice Gardener!  The co-hosts are Hilda from Along the Grapevine and Julianna from Foodie on Board. biscuit dough 2biscuits on porchbiscuit in hand

Fresh Herb and Yogurt Biscuits

  • Servings: 12 biscuits
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Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour (I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of white)
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped herbs (I used chives, oregano and parsley)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a fork.  Mix in the yogurt with your hands until a dough forms.  (Your hands will get very messy!)  Resist the urge to over-knead this dough–unlike with bread dough, too much kneading with biscuit dough makes the biscuits less fluffy.  Combine just until the dough holds together as a ball.  Then transfer to a floured work surface.  Pat the dough down till it is about 1/2 inch thick.  You may need at add some flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.  With a cutter about 2 inches round (I turn a small glass upside-down), cut the dough into circles and place on greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Enjoy!

Spiced Pear Bread

pear bread on porchIt is an ongoing goal and challenge to use food wisely.  When I see a piece of fruit in the fruit bowl getting a little too ripe, I feel like I need to do something with it.  Of course, this is a good problem to have–too much food–much better than the opposite problem–but I want to continually learn to use the food I have in ways that taste delicious and give us good energy.  Sometimes it is hard to plan or predict how much food to buy at a time–who knew my kids would go through a big bag of pretzels in two days, yet ignore the pears?  I guess I should have known!  Anyway, this spiced pear bread is a tasty way to use a very ripe pear–the juicier the pear, the moister the bread.  And it is a more nourishing snack than a plate full of pretzels! (Pretzels have their place too, but variety is a good thing).  The cinnamon, cloves, and orange rind add to this bread’s subtle, sweet flavor, and it tastes great just sliced on its own or with a little butter or cream cheese on it.  Add a steaming cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and it’s even better.  I based this recipe on one I found in my Dr. Cookie Cookbook by Marvin Wayne and Stephen Yarnall, though I made some changes.  Isn’t that the beauty of recipes, that they are always evolving with the years and with the people who use them.  I am taking this bread over to Angie’s blog at The Novice Gardener for the Fiesta Friday link party.  I always find inspiring ideas there! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. chopped pears and orangepear bread overviewpear bread and orangesunrise on porch

Spiced Pear Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf, or 12 slices
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •  1/4 cup honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce–if your pear is very juicy, lean towards 2 tablespoons, if not so juicy, use 3
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind (you may also you lemon rind)
  • 1 cup finely chopped unpeeled pear (about one pear)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, and set aside.  In another mixing bowl, vigorously stir the eggs, brown sugar, and oil until smooth.  (You can use an electric mixer if you want, but I did not find it necessary as long as I stirred it really well).  Add the honey, applesauce, orange or lemon rind, and stir well again.  Then, gently stir the flour mixture and the pear into the batter until just combined.  Scrape the combined batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake in your oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. It’s okay if the crust cracks a little.  Cool the bread in the loaf pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of the pan onto the wire rack and cool completely.  Enjoy!

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