A few weeks ago a Smitten Kitchen’s profound question crossed my Facebook feed. “Is there anything that isn’t better with chocolate?” I assume it was rhetorical. Who could answer no? Her recipe that followed for Double Chocolate had me immediately thinking everything is better with chocolate and necessary at this exact moment. I was on my way home from a weekend Boston and while I had no plans to do anything but order a pizza and binge in front of the couch, I instantly knew it had become a baking night.
I’ve always had a thing for lemon poppy seed muffins. Why I’ve never made them, I’m not sure. The extra stress of shopping for poppy seeds? Who knows. So when I was assigned to Traci’s Burnt Apple blog, through the Secret Recipe Club, I knew exactly what I would be making. I absolutely love Traci’s honesty. In her introduction, she admits to making a muffin so hard her husband tossed it through the wall, literally. She couldn’t cook. Yet her determination and growing family, forced her to take on the challenge. Burnt Apple is filled with healthy recipes, but unless you read the recipe, you’d never know. Everything just looks so tasty!
St. Patrick’s Day causes a frenzy of leprechauns, shamrocks, green beer and everything Irish people can get their hands on. I’ve lived in the same building for almost 7 years and while I don’t know everyone, I don’t think we have any Irish, yet I can the scent of corned beef and cabbage is already permeating the halls, and wafting its way into my apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no exception. I already have some brisket brining and the strong scent of cabbage will take over in a few hours.
Any holiday or reason to cook, I’m all over it. And St. Patrick’s Day is no different…with maybe one exception, the Soda Bread. People get so excited about Soda Bread, with its crunchy caraway seeds and plump raisins, it’s almost like a dessert. The first time I visited Ireland, I was astonished to see our version of soda bread is really nothing like theirs. It’s still yeast free, using baking soda instead as a levener, but it wasn’t sweet at all. No raisins, no caraway seeds, just a simple bread, toasted with plenty of butter. I’m not going to pretend I know why the recipe changed to more of a dessert like bread moving across the Atlantic pond, but it did. Soda bread in both forms is good, but it’s not the bread I fell in love with. There was something about a hearty, ridiculously dense slice of brown bread that just made me swoon.
I swear I really did try to make a great loaf of bread. I wanted to make something incredibly tasty and pay homage to New York. I came across Smitten Kitchen’s New York Deli Rye. Perfect! I was willing to put in the 8 hours it would take, but sadly never got to that point. The bread involves one fermentation stage and two rises. There isn’t actually 8 hours of hands on work, really about 30 minutes, you just need to be home and around to keep checking on your bread. I set aside my Saturday and was ready.