Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snow day baking - Irish Date and Walnut Loaf baked as a cake!

It's a beautiful soft snow day here in Maine - the snow is falling quite heavily and consistently but it is not windy or frigid which makes it all that much prettier and more enjoyable to take a walk, snap some pics and come back to a crackling fire in the wood stove and bake a nice homey cake with St. Patrick's Day in mind. The recipe is from my trusty little book 

This is a lovely, simple and easy cake or loaf to make by the 'melting' method - the dates make it moist and the tea adds that lovely deep flavour and colour. 

Let's get baking shall we?
INGREDIENTS: Avail yourself of the following - this is for one loaf in a one pound tin or a small cake in a 6" diameter cake pan - the recipe can be doubled for a bigger cake or, obviously, two loaves - this cake gets eaten very quickly so you may want to go right ahead and make the double amount. 


4oz/ 110g/ 1/2 cup mounded chopped dates medjool or deglet noor

4fl oz/125ml/1/2 cup boiling water OR same amount of good strong tea

2oz/1/2 stick salted butter

2oz walnuts - toasted for about 3 minutes in a 325F oven - keep your eye on them - they catch quickly - cooled and broken into small pieces

4oz/125g/1/2 cup sugar

5oz/140g/1 1/4 cups white flour unbleached

1 egg beaten

1/2 teaspoon baking soda/bicarb

1 tablespoon milk

METHOD: Pre heat oven to 200C/350F

1. Soak the chopped dates in the boiling water or tea (the tea adds a lovely complex flavour) in a large pan so the dates are in one layer, for 15 minutes.

2. Add the butter and allow to melt.
3. Allow to cool, then add the chopped walnuts, beaten egg, sugar and flour and stir well.

4. While mix is cooling using either a 1lb loaf tin or a small cake pan - mine is 6" diameter - grease and line with parchment/greaseproof paper:
5. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add to the batter and stir well until all is blended.
6. Pour batter into chosen tin and bake for about 45 minutes - then cover the tin with aluminum foil and bake for a further 15 minutes - until a toothpick/skewer comes out of the cake clean.

7. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then take out of the pan and put onto a wire rack to cool completely.
I've already made 2 of these cakes and both times the top cracked - but I am not worried about that - the taste is what I'm concerned about - and that taste is GOOD!!!
 This is one of those cakes/loaf that taste better the next day so if you manage it don't eat the day of baking, hold off until the next day then find yourself some nice softened butter, slather a slice with such, get a good hot strong cup of tea and watch the snow fall gently outside :)
If you happen to be interested the blue design is my Blue Rhapsody pattern available as napkins from CafePress here: NAPKINS
Happy Baking and do enjoy the snow if you're in Maine:)

Here are links to my Saint Patrick's Day designs at CafePress - with and without the Gaelic phrase for "Friends Forever"
You can buy items with my design and the Gaelic phrase HERE
You can buy items with my design and no lettering HERE
Thank you!! Happy Baking!

This blogpost is part of the Buttercream Bakehouse Saint Patrick's Day bloghop
buttercream Bakehouse

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bye Bye Nemo!!

My favourite gnarly old apple tree looking pretty in the beginning of the storm - now available as a print in my ETSY shop.
 The blizzard known as Nemo was quite the challenge here in Maine - a huge snowfall in a short amount of time and wind gusts up to 70mph combined with temperatures down to 0F - I have to say it wasn't much fun for me as I spent most of my time stoking the fire and checking that our pipes weren't freezing because the winds were blowing hard from the North East right at a vulnerable part of our old farmhouse BUT - we made it through with little problem and are glad to be on the other side - yea!!!
 Above: In the height of the storm - look how much of the fence is covered already since the first photo... and James sculpture "Leap,Run,Leaping" is barely visible.
 The snow was blown into huge drifts and dunes - some ground was laid bare despite more than 2 feet of snow falling.
Available as a print in my ETSY shop :)
Bye bye Nemo - we're looking forward now to rain and higher temperatures this week - should be interesting how rain and this amount of fresh snow combine!

The top and bottom images are now available in my Etsy shop HERE :)