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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Let This Bread Tell Your Fortune ... and Other Things I've Baked

I like to bake but I'm not always successful at it. I am successful at watching The Great British Baking Show and being inspired to get better at baking. In September, I felt inspired to try a few recipes. Some worked out well, some were not so great. 

My best results came from barmbrack or (bairin breac), a traditional Irish holiday cake. I followed a recipe from Allrecipes that does not use yeast. 

Barmbrack is a fortune telling cake. Items are baked in the cake and when you find an item in your slice, that's your fortune. If you find a ring, you'll be married in a year. Find a thimble or button and you'll never marry. Find a pea and you'll go hungry, find a cloth and you'll be poor. Find a coin and you'll be wealthy, find a matchstick and you'll be beaten. So there's a mix of good and bad results. 

Since this was to be a family cake and our first barmbrack, I didn't really want anyone to get a matchstick or think they'd be hungry. I worked with my husband to substitute some items. We used the ring and the coin, but we also put in a key for luck and a knot to symbolize that you'd solve a problem.  

I also substituted orange marmalade for the lemon marmalade but I think the family liked that flavor better.

Cakes like barmbrack are winter holiday cakes and include a lot of dried fruit that would be a real treat in the winter. 

I used orange essence prunes and sultanas (golden raisins) in this cake.

The dried fruits are soaked in tea. I used Bewley's Irish.

It was really aromatic.

Mixing this cake was easy and it baked quickly in the ring pan.

It's quite a moist cake and very fruity. My kids said it reminded them of stollen, another one of my favorite cakes. I love stollen, and I love that my kids know what stollen is. We usually buy it from Black Cat Bake Shop.

We usually enjoyed a slice with a nice slab of salted Kerrygold butter. You can use American butter, but why would you?

Since I zested an orange for the barmbrack, I decided to try to make candied orange slices. Yes, I saw them on GBBS and it seemed easy. I should have known it required more skill than I have right now, but also it required orange juice and I didn't have that either. I wouldn't call these a success, just a good learning experience.

While I was rummaging in our cabinet, I found the bag of masa flour and thought about trying to make tortillas. AGAIN.  Months ago I finally found a tortilla press and bought it but never used it.

Also, we had a friend sleeping over who is gluten free and I thought, corn tortillas are gluten free! And so is taco meat!

So I decided break in our tortilla press and make some corn tortillas. They were OK.

I mean, we still ate them. 

But I just can't figure out the right wetness to make the tortilla balls so that they flatten out nice and thin in the press AND slide off the paper easily onto the grill AND cook without tearing and breaking. 

Maybe I'm not grilling them long enough? Or hot enough?

We fried some up in the pan after grilling them to see how that tasted, and it was good. But I still haven't come anywhere close to making tortillas that taste like restaurant ones. 

Coming up this month? I'm thinking of attempting a trifle and maybe a swiss roll. Stay tuned. 

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