Friday, March 14, 2014

Luck of the Irish

On Sunday March 16, I will be the Chef of the Day on Cookstr. Go to to see my recipes.  Since it will be only one day early, we're celebrating by having Irish Soda Bread.

I don't have to go back very far to find my Irish heritage as both of my maternal grandparents were Irish. Every year for St. Patrick's Day I bake Irish Soda Bread. Although it is easy to make, it's important not to knead vigorously or the bread will be tough. What is called Irish Soda Bread in the US, is actually Spotted Dog in Ireland.

 Irish Soda Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup golden raisins

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk and mix until a sticky dough forms. Mix in raisins.

Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough gently 8 to 10 times or until dough comes together and is no longer sticky.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a round loaf, about 7 inches across. Place on baking sheet. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until deep golden brown and no longer moist on the surface. Cool on wire cooling rack a few minutes before slicing. Makes 2 loaves.

Tip: This year I added sunflower nuts instead of raisins, using 1/3 cup.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Best Cake of the MN State Fair

The State Fair- the great Minnesota Get Together- is one of the highlights of the year in Minnesota. (The other would be hockey season). Almost 2 million visitors visit the Fair and gorge themselves on fried foods and anything "on a stick". This year my husband feasted on a Breakfast Lolly (sausage on a stick dipped in pancake batter and fried) with maple syrup and I sampled walleye on a stick.

This event runs from for 10 days ending on Labor Day. There is such a heat wave at the moment that fair attendance is down quite a bit but the food competition hasn't noticed.

Scandinavian Orange Bundt Cake from Scandinavian Classic Baking is the recipe Candy Freeman prepared to enter in the category of Cakes with Fat or Cooking Oil. In addition to winning in its category this cake also received the Grand Cake Sweepstakes (Best Cake of Fair). Congratulations to her!

Orange Bundt Cake
A classic pound cake is made with one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour but doesn’t have the lighter texture preferred today in cakes. The delicate orange flavor added by the orange rind can be intensified by also adding orange extract. If you are using a fluted tube pan, I recommend using shortening and brushing it into all the grooves in the pan before flouring.

 Makes 1 cake, 12 to 16 servings

            2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange extract, if desired

3/4 cup 2% milk, room temperature

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

Heat the oven to 350°F with rack in lower third. Thoroughly grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan or an angel food cake pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Combine the milk and orange juice.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, and beat 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each egg is added. Add the vanilla and beat 3 minutes until the mixture is very light and creamy.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After adding all of the flour beat until smooth, but no longer than 15 seconds.

Stir in the orange rind. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire cooling rack 10 minutes. Run a spatula or a wooden skewer around the edge of the pan and around tube in the center to loosen the cake. Carefully loosen the cake from pan and invert onto cooling rack. Cool completely.

Serve with whipped cream.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New Cookbook- Scandinavian Classic Desserts

My third cookbook, Scandinavian Classic Desserts, was recently published by Pelican Publishing. This book follows the same design as Scandinavian Classic Baking and features a photo of every recipe. There is a wide range of recipes that can be prepared by novices to experienced bakers. Many of  the sidebars are instructional and aid success.

Unfortunately Scandinavian Desserts has three errors. Somehow we all missed the following when the book was proofed.

Norwegian Blotkake- page 21 When beating the eggs for the cake, add all of the sugar (1 cup) listed in the cake ingredients. Add 2 teaspoons sugar to the whipping cream.  


Swedish Almond Bars- page 70 should be baked at 350 degrees F. Baking times are correct.


Danish Aebleskiver- page 79 After soaking the yeast in warm water it should be added to the beaten egg yolks with the flour, 1/2 cup milk and vanilla.