This is a picture of the Nutty Wholegrain Shortcake with Tart Apple Topping (recipe in an earlier post 9-19-11). The apples were leftover from student lunch and were a bit lackluster, so I stirred in a bit more brown sugar and cinnamon, and added a generous dash of apple cider vinegar to give them a little more tartness. It must have worked, because I took it over to the concession stand workers at that night's volleyball game, and they brought back a clean plate! Try this one at home and it will become a fall favorite.
This is called a Harvest Braid. It uses the lattice braid technique, but instead of the customary sweet filling, it uses ham, apples, sharp cheddar and nuts. Here's what you need:
Any dough, enough for one loaf of bread
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped ham
1 ½ cups sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ¼ cups peeled and chopped apples (tart baking apples are best)
Prepare dough though the first rising. Punch dough down and knead briefly to expel larger air bubbles. On a lightly floured board, roll out to a rectangle about 18 x 10 inches. Prepare filling by combining ham and cheese in a medium size bowl and tossing to mix. Spread filling lengthwise in the center third of the dough, pressing it together lightly.
Using a sharp knife or a small pizza cutter, cut each outer third of the dough (the part not covered by the filling) into 5 to 10 diagonal strips, cutting from the edge of the dough to about 1 inch from the edge of the filling. Lightly brush strips with water.
Fold strips over filling, alternating left and right, being careful not to stretch the dough. Tuck in the ends of the last strips and pinch to seal. Carefully transfer to a lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and the temperature of the filling is at least 160 degrees. Allow to cool on pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.
This fragrant loaf is traditionally served on Halloween with a gold ring or other charm baked into it that was supposed to bring luck to the person who received it. I haven't made it in a couple of years, but I really should serve it all year long, since it makes the kitchen smell marvelous and it makes a great breakfast bread.
There is some disagreement as to the meaning of the name “barm brack.” It could mean “bread made from barm” (a yeasty by-product of beer making) or it may be a corruption of the Anglo-Irish bairigen breac, meaning “speckled cake.” You can also bake this bread in two 8½ x 4½ x 2½-inch loaf pans, but you’ll need to bake them for 40 to 45 minutes. I like the rounded form better, since it looks more rustic. Here's the recipe:
2 cups strong black tea, divided and cooled to lukewarm
2 packages active dry yeast
1½ cup raisins
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1½ teaspoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons of mixed spice (see note)
6¼ to 6¾ cups all purpose flour
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and a pinch of brown sugar in ¼ cup of tea; allow to develop. In a medium size bowl, dissolve brown sugar in the remaining 1¾ cups of tea; add raisins and allow to soak for ten minutes. Add yeast mixture to tea. Stir in eggs, butter, salt and spices. Stir in six cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition until flour is completely incorporated.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep dough manageable. The finished dough should be moderately soft and only slightly sticky. Lightly oil the surface of the dough and place it back into rinsed bowl and cover with a clean, dry towel. Allow to rise in a warm place free from drafts until doubled, 60 to 75 minutes.
Lightly grease three 8-inch pie pans. Punch dough down and knead briefly to expel larger air bubbles. Divide dough into three portions and shape each into a flattened round about 8 inches across. Place loaves in pie plates. Cover loaves with a clean dry cloth and allow to rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned on top and loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on racks.
Note---You can use any number of spices for this traditional Irish bread, including nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, anise, and mace. My favorite: 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg and mace, with a pinch of ground anise seed.
I'm making pizza for tonight's community night, which we call "haustus" (derived from the Latin word "to be be filled or satisfied"). We'll have beer, soft drinks, popcorn and other snacks, including some of Br. Luke's homemade salsa, plus whatever pizzas I make. I know I'll be making Four Cheese Tomato Top pizza with some of the last of Fr. Ron's heirloom tomatoes. A basic medium-thick crust is the first layer, and that's topped with a blend of asiago, romano, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses mixed well with chopped fresh herbs and one beaten egg. And here's a tip: don't use the cheaper Kraft or store-brand cheese blends---they're much too bland---but go ahead and spring for the BelGioso or Sargento Italian cheese blends, or even the imported if you're really flush. There's a world of difference. The last layer is made up of slices of garden tomatoes (don't bother with hothouse pinks!) that have been drained on paper towels for about half an hour. I hope the picture will make you want to try it yourself.
The flavors in this recipe include the sweetness of the brown sugar, the slight sourness of the tart apples, the salt in the shortcake and the slightly bitter taste of the nutmeg, which means that in each bite you are savoring something on every taste bud across your entire tongue!
Whole Grain Nutty Shortcake with Tart Apple Topping
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ c. whole grain wheat flour
¼ cup quick cooking oatmeal
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup milk
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ c apple cider or apple juice
5 cups tart apples; peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the flours, brown sugar, oatmeal, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or two knives. Stir in the pecans. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until blended; beat for one minute. Divide dough in half and into two greased 9-inch pie pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly firm to the touch.
While the shortcake is baking, make the topping. Combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in a large saucepan. Stir in the cider and cook over medium high heat until the sauce is clear and thickened. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the apples. Cover and let simmer until the apples are tender. Spoon half of the apple mixture over each shortcake layer (you may serve them individually or stacked.) Serve warm with whipped cream and toasted pecans for a garnish.
NOTE: You can cut the shortcake into smaller pieces and spoon the apple mixture on top for individual servings, using small bowls or small dessert plates.
I hope to use this page to let Bread Heads know what's going on in the abbey kitchen, what kind of recipes I'm working on, and to make some suggestions for seasonal baking. Here you'll find recipes, instructions and illustrations for dough shaping, and the occasional book review. So check in often to see what's new in my world of baking.
Fr. Dominic Garramone AKA