This time of year you will find you will find a lot of debate on exactly what Irish soda bread is. Traditionalists will insist if it has any ingredients beyond flour, baking soda and buttermilk, it isn’t really Irish soda bread. Then there are people, like me, who think a few added ingredients don’t take away from the charm of a loaf of soda bread cooling on the counter. I try any and all variations of soda bread I can find and generally love them all.
This recipe calls for Treacle, which I gather is a very British ingredient. I couldn’t find it at any of the stores I looked in all over my home town and a bit beyond. So according to Google, molasses is an acceptable substitute so that’s what I used.
Treacle and Ginger Soda Bread
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 TBS molasses
1 3/4 cup flour
1 TBS sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of ginger
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, set aside. In a small bowl, combine the milk and molasses, stirring so all the molasses is dissolved completely. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and ginger. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients to form a soft dough. Shape the dough into a disc about 4 inches across. Put the dough onto a baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, cut an x across the top of the dough about 1/4 inch deep. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
One of the first blogs I ever read was Lauren Smith’s The Oatmeal Artist. I couldn’t believe there could be a whole site dedicated to the subject of oatmeal. Really, what can you do with oatmeal besides serve it with brown sugar and milk or make cookies with it? Fortunately, Lauren’s oatmeal vision isn’t so limited. Aside from cooking oatmeal on the stove top, you can bake it or make overnight oatmeal, which is essentially soaking it. And don’t get me started on the flavor combinations. You could try a new flavor everyday for a year and never have the same one twice. My current favorite oatmeal flavor is the banana bread. It makes my apartment smell amazing and it tastes even better then it smells.
What I really like about Lauren’s site is that most of the recipes are scaled for one but are still filling portions. The recipes are, for the most part, free from processed ingredients. The only draw back to Lauren’s blog is that some of her recipes use hard to find and/or expensive ingredients. However, if you are an oatmeal lover and willing to search a little, there are plenty of awesome oatmeal recipes at The Oatmeal Artist.
These are some of my favorite flavors from The Oatmeal Artist.
Banana Bread Oatmeal
Green Apple Walnut Oatmeal
Baked Cranberry Oatmeal
Can’t have a cake recipe without a frosting recipe. This recipe makes about a cup of frosting. It takes about half the recipe to cover the 4 inch cake recipe from earlier in the week, depending how thick you like your frosting. I personally believe you can’t have too much frosting. If you don’t agree, spread the remaining frosting between two graham crackers and freeze until solid for a treat after the cake is gone.
Homemade Butter Cream Frosting
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
4 TBS butter
11/2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
In a medium sized bowl, cream the butter and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer. Add milk and vanilla beat until combined. For chocolate frosting: add 2 tsp cocoa powder to the powdered sugar.
At the end of December I stepped down from my cake decorating position and went back to my old position as a cashier. While I don’t regret my decision, I really miss decorating cakes. I really want to keep improving my skills and trying new ones. I couldn’t see how though. I am single and don’t need a whole cake sitting around tempting me and I can only bring so much cake to my coworkers.
It didn’t take me long to start thinking miniature cakes for one or two, that is what I do after all. The first step was to decide on what size cakes I wanted to do. I decided on 4″, 6″ and 8″ cakes in round and square shapes. I could use my collection of spring form pans for the round cakes and I have 6″ and 8″ square pans already.
The second step was finding some small batch cake recipes to try and use as a template for my recipes. I settled on a recipe from Debby Maugans Nakos’ Cookbook, Small Batch Baking. Her to frost this cake recipe for classic yellow cake made a perfect 4″ round cake. I will be using her recipe to scale all sizes of my cakes.
I know this cake looks like I have never decorated a cake before but I am relearning how to frost a cake with a spatula instead of a scraper and I am still looking for the perfect frosting recipe. The one I used for this cake tastes good but isn’t right for actually creating any frosting designs.
Classic Yellow Cake
1/2 cup flour
3 TBS buttermilk
1/8 tsp baking soda
Yolk of 1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 TBS butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Place the oven comes rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and baking soda; mix well. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and butter; mix well. In another small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; mix well; mix well. Add the buttermilk mixture and combine until just blended. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges of the pan and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.