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A Note from Marcy

March Madness Bonus Recipes

 

  Carrot Ginger,Cilantro and Orange Soup !!!FREEE!!!
It is not not quite chicken soup and matzoh ball time nor is it barley mushroom weather. But sometimes, you just need a soupy reprieve. This is one of our most requested. 
Baker's Best Cinnamon Bubka With Crumb Topping Bubka is pure heaven - because it strikes just the right note of sweetness – being neither pastry nor bread. It is relatively easy to make - not as complicated as true Danish with its rolled in blocks of butter but certainly richer and moister than average sweet dough. 


Is this a tea or a potion? Is this a beverage or an oasis? A local coffee and tea bistro serves up “Cream Earl Grey’. I had it and it was the type of elegant elixir that makes you float away to an English Country garden reverie.

Honey Vanilla Chamomile Latte
I should call this Can’t Sleep Tea or BB”s Sleeptime Tea because I guarantee this will make you sleepy….sleepier? Well, it is a tonic no matter what. Warm milk, honey, cinnamon and even a chamomile teabag if you like chamomile make this sublime. It is instead of hot cocoa and instead of decaf café latte.

White Chocolate Tollhouse Macadamia Nut Cookies
Crisp, buttery, lightly sweet. A great treat to start the week.

Cranberry, Sour Cherry and Almond Granola
Complex carbs? Easy! Gourmet tastes, and a health food pedigree in an appetite zapping, complex carb snack or breakfast offering.

More Purim and Easter Recipes and The Real Perfect Cupcake Recipe

Fresh Blueberry Hamantashen Filling You will never look at poppy or prune again.
Dried Strawberry Hamantashen Filling It was inevitable. Gorgeous color, wonderful taste.

Classic Butter Vanilla Cupcakes Yes, a glitch we have to own up to. Here is the recipe that works and is as perfect as you would expect and free for another month. Thank you to those who alerted us.

Chocolate Bear Cinnamon Buns Why didn't we think of this before. Maple variation too!
Cherry Cake Doughnut Coffeecake with Cherry Fondant Glaze Inventive and resounding flavor in each tender bite. Easter-ish or spring-like cake. Cut off a hunk and enjoy.


Bakery Style Hamantashen Dough FREE. My favorite (ok, it's a tie with one other)
Traditional Orange Scented Oil Hamantashen Dough FREE. Sometimes about this is incredibly homey.
My Special Chocolate Peanut Butter Hamantashen Filling Gourmet shop new taste.
Pear and Peach Hamantashen Filling Ambrosial new fruit filling.
Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Fondant FREE !Forget store-bought! Make the dough in the bread machine
Hot Cross Scones FREE A test kitchen favorite all year round.
Onion Skin and Tea Infused Eggs Snacks for the holidays
Pickled Beet Pink Eggs Beets provide the pink; spice perks up the eggs. Happy Easter
New Zealand Cinnamon Toast Bread A tale of two cinnamon breads. Sort of like....brioche in a cinnamon coating. Just sublime.

!!!FREE!!!! 

Bring this in to the office on a Friday near you or make it for a mid-week treat for friends. This is easy as pie (only it’s a tart), and features a dense browni batter inside a buttery pie crust. Top with melted chocolate, drizzle on white chocolate (and toasted almonds) and you have a slice worthy of raves.

  Is it true? Toronto has something Montreal bakeries don’t? According to culinary writer/reporter Matthew Goodman buns from the Open Window Bakery are legend. His recipe, calls for a lean dough and vegetable shortening. The BB Test kitchen used butter and/or oil, (we are not keen on shortening until it is the new no trans fat one by Crisco), and made the dough a bit richer to offset staling. The result is a plump blueberry bun that is authentic Open Window Bakery inspired but …..better (we think). 

Chewy, Crisp, Big, Caramel, Old-Fashioned General Store Oatmeal Cookies Golden wonders, chocka full with raisins, this is so incredibly satisfying in each and every bite.

   
Ever buy that Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal and wonder, heck- why not just have cinnamon toast? Now you can.

 

OUR REGULAR MARCH ISSUE:

 

Baking With A Brogue, Best of Irish Baking

It might as well be spring for the BB Bakery is restless with new temptations. May we treat you to some of our solid emerald favorites? Bake to your heart’s content and add another jig to your workout.  Stay tuned for Purim treats too! And for your reading pleasure,The Soda Bread Queen Meets Lord of the Dance (see below) 


Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends of BetterBaking.com,

Top o’ the morning to you all!

Welcome to a baker’s jaunt through some Irish-inspired baking and a special hello to the month of March.  We can’t really pretend I’m Irish but from my floury perch, I can entertain notions of another sort of heritage. Sometimes, it's not easy not being green.

What’s not to like about a tradition that celebrates, as North American home bakers do fine, simple things like cream, butter, rhubarb, toasty oats, rustic breads, and hardly things that make the most of humble spuds. Certainly, there is more to Irish cuisine than these trusty elements, and the new cookbooks I have been collecting are evidence of that. But basics have their appeal and with so little time, so many recipes and directions, I have not strayed too far into nouvelle Ireland and stayed instead, on the nicely beaten path. If the recipe titles are a wee bit whimsical, I ask you grant me gentle passage. Don’t you agree that an impish spirit in the bakery is just the arsenal one needs when shooing winter on its way? All the recipes in this issue are special but my heart belongs to the queen of the lot: Traditional Irish Soda Bread.

My love affair with this recipe started many years ago when I made a few prototypes and later an entire line of soda bread varieties for a company in New England called Titterington’s Scone Company.  Each soda bread formula I created only seemed to birth another. I was hooked. Indeed, my passion for this simple bread has only bloomed over the years. I happen to prefer things not-too-sweet, hearty and somewhat rough-hewn. Nothing beats freshly baked, wheaty soda bread, speckled with caraway seeds. I enjoy soda bread instead of toast or often split a thick slice horizontally; top it with Dijon mustard, caramelized onions, and smoked turkey. A small wedge of toasted soda bread with honey is wonderful with tea and mini soda bread scones I sometimes make are rather fine with semi-melted asiago or Clementine marmalade. There is the classic soda bread I am showcasing in this issue, but if you check the Recipe Index you find variations ranging from flowerpot-baked soda breads to sour cherry and chocolate ones. Ah, the liberties of a baking libertine. Mind you, some Irish chefs are now making Soda Bread Tarte Tatin so I am in good company.

If you have not ever made real Irish soda bread, you are in for a treat. Soda bread, like all soul food, is always best when it is born of someone’s caring hand, stirring the pot and tending the home oven. Whether you are in Kilkerry, Kildare or Kalamazoo, all you really need is a warm heart, good intentions, and a stoked fire to make wonderful Irish Soda Bread.

Soda Bread Tales…..Or
The Soda Bread Queen Meets Lord of the Dance

I cannot think of soda bread without thinking of last year, just around the same time. I mentioned to my friends at tango that I was making soda breads and Jean-Michael, my (then) partner, perked up and began to wax lyrical about soda breads. I was so intrigued that he was a soda bread aficionado. Few folks, even Irish lads and lassies in these parts, even have had soda bread. Perhaps I will surprise Jean-Michel next week with real soda bread, I thought.

As tango class began however, Jean-Michael, a rather good dancer albeit a perfectionist became increasingly bit annoyed at another tanquero. The tango fellow in question had a chronic, nasty habit of looking at his own feet as he led his partner. Consequently he bumped and collided into everyone on the dance floor with alarming constancy. Paulo was otherwise a nice man and a capable partner (having danced with him at times) but a virtual terror on the dance floor. He was, as we say, unsafe at any speed. That evening he did his bumper car routine once too many times for Jean-Michel’s tolerance and without warning, Jean-Michel (and this from a man that quotes Whitman, Proust and wrote a stunning piece on the young Henry James) hauled off and neatly slugged the other man, dragging me with him in one clean sweep! The whole sequence caused Paula and his partner, Giselle, to totter and almost fall over. I was aghast – and caught between apologizing to the other couple and maintain some modicum of loyalty to my own partner. Everyone who saw it was shocked. Tango is a contact sport but it generally does not involve full body checking. Unbelievably, the tense moment was gotten past, but not without sulky angry looks the rest of the night, incredulity from everyone else, and the occasional hissing comments as the both couples danced by each other.

Well, I thought – forget about the soda bread plan! That man does not deserve soda bread, I thought, among other far less polite things. How uncivilized, how gauche – for I am nothing if not allergic to temper.

But as the week went on, I mellowed. A soda bread could not be a bad thing – feelings settle. Stuff happens. Maybe it is guy stuff – real men clobber other real men that step on their toes or jostle their partners.  The day of tango class, I relented, baked and brought a beautiful soda bread with me. It was still warm from the oven, perched on its baking sheet. I gave it to Jean-Michael just as soon as I arrived and was amazed to see tears came to his eyes  - so touched was he. Now that, is the power of the Irish baking. I never saw anyone so moved over something so modest. I was so pleased I had decided to make it after all - rather than withhold the gift. The better road was the higher road and Jean-Michel’s unadulterated pleasure was my reward.

That night, tango class was uneventful (comparatively) and when it ended, I decided I needed to visit the nearby downtown Dairy Queen that had just opened for the season. It was one of those unseasonably mild March nights, where winter shows the rents in its outerwear in the moonlight glow of melting snow on black pavement and a subtle change of scent in the air. Clearly, winter is in retreat; Spring is nipping at its heels.

It was an evening destined for a pre-season hot chocolate fudge sundae with raspberries. Jean Michael asked to tag along.

We sat in what is one of Montreal’s last remaining Dairy Queens, chatting about tango over ice cream and chunks of soda bread. Jean-Michel kept noticing and remarking on the newly laid marble floor in the Dairy Queen terrace where we sat – now empty of patrons. I thought nothing of his observation – dancers are always looking at floors and considering their dance worthiness.  My sundae barely finished, the DQ lights began to dim, and the young man who had served us, now began his rituals of closing up the shop and stacking the café chairs on the tables.  I reached for my coat and my purse. Just as we were just about to leave, and only a few ambience lights were left on, spattering out tiny sprays of light on that marble floor, Jean-Michael asked for my coat and purse. Perplexed – I handed him the items, which he cavalierly threw over the chair backs. He beckoned in one gesture, drew me into his arms, and hummed a familiar tango tune, struck a dramatic tango pose, and then whisked me away. We swirled, dipped, ducked, and tripped the light fantastic, to the low growl of the ice-cream compressor and to the awestruck stare of the young man, who simply leaned on his mop, and watched us tango.

”Told you this was a great floor to dance on’, Jean-Michel smiled into my hair, as we covered at least more one mini acre and caused our audience of one to widen his eyes into pure astonishment.

Somebody pinch me, I thought. My life has become a movie.

Best of all, it was one of those times where I followed seamlessly for I hadn’t time to protest or balk. We ended in one of those hovering tango poses that is stiller than statues and then dissolved, the outlines of our bodies dispersing again into the air and atmosphere, leaving shadow version dancers of us, lingering in our own reality wake.

And then we were done. Coat and purse handed back, a wave goodbye to the gaping young man and his mop partner. Into the night and into the streetlight glow we went. It had begun lightly snowing again; so much for spring. As each flake melted the moment it touched my face, and with each crumb of soda bread Jean-Michel casually brushed off my old rose, Old Navy scarf, it occurred to me how many perfect conversations take place without a word being spoken.

My last thought as we parted was to always remember: judge less, bake more. Had I not let things drop, I never would have baked that soda bread and perhaps not had a dance debut at DQ. Who knows? My evening on that mellow March night might have ended with a solo fajita ejected from the window of McDonald’s drive-thru instead.

I keep a list of most special moments in an old diary I have had since high school. The Dairy Queen Tango is up there - proof that ‘special’ can happen any time, any place, out of the blue. You can attribute this stellar interlude to moonlight, spring fever, and what a little tango can do, but I owe it to soda bread and a wee bit of the luck, but more likely the charm, of the Irish.

Spring is around the corner, albeit ducking your view like a leprechaun teasing you out of hibernation. Goodness knows, at this time of year, we can stand some bearable lightness of being. Let some elfin magic have its way with you.   Maybe you too will end up dancing under the stars or simply catching the last snowflakes on your tongue, on another mild March evening, as you walk through the streets of your own city, and tenderly wish the lion of winter a sweet and fond farewell.

Wishing you happy baking, sweet times, and a wee dram of magic in all your recipes,


Marcy Goldman
Baker, Writer and Host
www.BetterBaking.com


!!!Free!!! Buttermilk Irish Soda Bread
The best things in life are simple. To me, this Irish Soda Bread is better than croissants but don’t tell my French pastry chef friends.

!!!Free!!! A Fine Irish Stew
Shiver me timbers, there’s still a chill in the air. Chase it away with a bowl of Irish Stew, straight up. Mop the plate with our chive and potato bread.


Tall and stately, delicate, moist grain and a sinful glaze is how I describe my best chocolate cake ever –after 18 years of professional baking! If you bake nothing else this week, make it this cake. The glaze sets into a truffle-like consistency as if a Godiva truffle melted over its top.


What is more natural than new shoots of green onions and potatoes?

Top 'O the Morning Sweet Soda Bread
Sweeter, finer grained soda bread taste with quick bread aspirations. A blue-ribbon winner.


How are things in Glocca Morra indeed? After this luscious cake, things are A-ok.


A swirl of red strawberry preserves creates sweet havoc in tender and flaky scone, replete with tiny chunks of sugared rhubarb.

Good 'N Hearty Irish Brown Bread
’Everything that rises must converge’, to quote the baker and Irish short story author Flannery O’Connor. A beautiful whole wheat bread, perfect for toast and real marmalade or for sandwiches and ale.

Look to the Rainbow Cookies
A charming butter cookie in four pretty hues create this mystic rainbow. Follow the fellow who follows the dream…..and follows this recipe. Wonderful bakery style cookies that are visually captivating.


Regular oatmeal or Irish McCann’s Quick Oatmeal stars in this round, buttery little cake that is singing with brown-sugar and topped with a pecan/coconut broiled topping. A typical Irish teacake that is now a regular in the BB Test Kitchen


Previous Monthly Essays from A Note From Marcy:

Essays to tickle your funny bone, wake up your inner baker, twinge on your heartstrings, or make you smile and say, Ive know the feeling; I know the place. If you missed an essay, or a season in baking or inner sensibility, we invite you to stroll through our archived Notes From Marcy.

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