Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blueberry Poppy Loaf

Have you ever come across an interesting recipe in a book that you have owned forever and wondered why you hadn’t noticed it before? Well that’s what happened with the Blueberry Poppy Loaf I came across while flipping through More of Canada’s Best Bread Machine Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt. I can’t tell you why I had missed it all this time, especially since I leaf through this book often.
The interesting part of this recipe is that the bread’s only liquid is sour cream. I love sour cream and I love the flavour and richness it imparts in cakes, but making yeasted bread with it would be a first for me. It also had dried blueberries along with poppy seeds which sounded like a pretty good combination, and one you normally don’t see in bread.

I had seen dried blueberries in the bulk store and remembered that they were quite expensive but I only needed half a cup so really that couldn’t add up to much, right? Well I set off to the grocery store and headed straight to the bulk foods section and there in a bin were tiny little dark blue dried wild blueberries. The price was just over $4.00 for 100 grams so I scooped a little more than I needed and figured that amount would cost only a few dollars. I picked up some other things I needed and went to the check out. It wasn`t until I got to the car that I checked the bill to see just how much the blueberries had come to and it was a good thing I was seated in the car because had I been on a chair I probably would have fallen off of it. The dried blueberries cost $18.00! Even if I only used half the blueberries I bought that still would be a lot. Well I thought this better be really good bread for that price. I shudder to think what they would charge for this bread in a bakery. Anyway I was still looking forward to making this bread.

It was super simple to put together especially since I just had to throw all the ingredients into the bread machine pan and let it do all the mixing. The recipe called for ½ cup of poppy seeds but I thought that seemed like an awful lot so I just used ¼ cup. The dough mixed up quite nicely and I let it rise in the pan. When it was doubled I divided the dough in two portions and shaped them into batards. I allowed the shaped dough to rise again until doubled and then baked them in a preheated oven. As I’ve mentioned before I never bake bread in the bread machine.
The loaves baked up beautifully and I couldn’t wait to try this million dollar bread. When they were just cool enough I sliced into a loaf to try it out. It was excellent! The crust was tender crisp as you would expect with the high fat content of all the sour cream in the recipe – a full two cups.

I was glad I had cut the amount of poppy seeds in the recipes because there were plenty in the crumb and I honestly think the full amount would have been far too much. The blueberries were plump with an intense blueberry flavour. I thought the bread was delicious and that making it once in a while given the cost of the blueberries was a justifiable indulgence. I had it the next morning toasted with butter and it was a real treat. I’ll definitely make this bread again even if I have to mortgage the house.
Submitted to Yeastspotting.
Blueberry Poppy Loaf
Make 2 loaves
2 cups sour cream
2 tsp. lemon zest
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 tsp. bread machine yeast
1/2 cup dried blueberries
Measure all ingredients expect dried blueberries into baking pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Insert pan into the oven chamber. Select Sweet Cycle. Add dried blueberries at "add ingredient" signal.
Set the machine to dough cycle. When the cycle is complete allow the dough to rise until doubled.
Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each piece into a batard or free form loaf. Allow to rise until double and bake in a preheated 400 F. oven.
If you don't have a bread machine you can use a mixer.
Combine sour cream, lemon zest, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the flour and poppy seeds and mix using dough hook for about 5 minutes. Remove the dough from bowl and on a lightly floured roll out the dough and add the blueberries. Roll the dough up and knead for a few minutes to incorporate the blueberries. Place in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled. Divide the dough into two and shape into free form loaves. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled. Preheat oven 30 minutes before baking. Bake the loaves for about 30 to 40 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies

My daughter Andrea is giving her best friend Eryn a bridal shower at the end of July, just a week after I get back from Italy, and Andrea has asked me to help her out. I won’t give away everything we are making for the shower just in case Eryn reads this, but I can say that I will be baking some cookies for the event. As well, my friend and neighbour Maria asked if I would bake some cookies for her son’s fiancĂ©’s shower, taking place the day after I get back. So I will hit two birds with one stone by baking big batches of cookies ahead of time for both parties. I asked Andrea, while she was on the phone with Eryn one day, to ask her what kind of cookies she likes and without any hesitation Eryn said “anything with chocolate”.

As I flipped through my binder of recipes for cakes and cookies I’ve collected over the years I came across a chocolate cookie that would fit this bill. Grammy's Chocolate Cookies are chocolaty crisp cookies that would satisfy any chocolate lover as the recipe has a generous ¾ cup of cocoa powder and it yields over 100 cookies, plenty for both showers.

I can just picture Grandma baking up a batch of this easy cookie for all her grandchildren when they come to visit and I can picture all her grandchildren dunking these delicious cookies in their glasses of milk and devouring every single bite.

They really are very simple to whip up. Mix the butter, sugar and eggs until light a fluffy and gradually add a mixture of dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, cocoa, salt into the egg mixture. Refrigerate the dough for one hour and then roll the dough into one inch balls and dip the top of th cookie into a bit of granulated sugar. Place the balls onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The little balls of dough flatten out as they bake. I placed them into freezer bags to keep for the shower.

Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 100

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar, plus more for dipping
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, coco powder, baking soda, and slat. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients, and combine with mixer on low speed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until dough is firm, about 1 hour.
3. Heat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dip top of each ball into sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Cool on Baking Sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool