Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Perfect Afternoon - Jigsaw Puzzles, Tea & Cranberry Loaf

Some days are perfect. Today was like that. Well, the sun WASN'T shining, but was perfect. I spent the morning baking and the afternoon enjoying it all.

I've become bread obsessed. In fact, my two new bread books arrived this afternoon (after my bread making for the day...oh well, there's always tomorrow) - Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook. I'll be leafing through them and trying out a number of recipes.

The first bread for today...Dark Pumpernickel is awesome. Molasses, strong coffee and cocoa powder give it an awesome dark colour and glorious flavor enhanced even more with caraway seeds. The bread started out in the bread machine and did the actual baking in the oven.

Thanks to my good friend Norene Gilletz, who has a number of excellent breads in Norene's Healthy Kitchen and her perfect tip...use the bread machine to make the dough and knead it but then form it by hand to what ever shape you like. Let it rise, covered in a warm place, until it doubles in size (about 1 hour) and bake at 375°F/190°C for 30 minutes or so. If you want you bread crusty, mist the bottom of the oven a couple of times. The bread is ready when it sounds hollow when you tap on it. All this so I don't have to whine about making giant cubes of bread. To me, shape, texture and colour are as important as the flavor.

That took care of savory...but what about sweet? I remembered seeing a lovely Quick Cranberry Cornbread over at the great baker...Jumbo Empanadas. But naturally I had to make a few changes. First, I ran out of pecans (my favorite baking nut) so I used some lovely pistachios instead. And I think a perfect addition to an already great loaf...crystalized ginger...heaven! Here's my version...

Cranberry, Pistachio & Ginger Loaf

Once the loaf was cool enough to eat, I made a cup of Jasmine tea to go with it and worked on one of my other hobbies...putting together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles.

What does your perfect day look like?


Kevin said...

Look at all of the bread. The cranberry and pistachio loaf sounds good and looks nice and colourful.

Brilynn said...

Crystallized ginger would have been an awesome addition!

I'm working my way through Artisan Bread in 5 too, it's a really fantastic book!

Ruth Daniels said...

Kevin, I can't even begin to tell you just how good it is!!!

Brilynn, I probably shouldn't have got 2 bread books at one I'm a little overwhelmed!

Helene said...

You had a great day. I can't wait to get my Artisan Bread in five Minutes from the library. In the meantime I'll read your reviews.

Ricki said...

Mmm. There's nothing like a good quick bread--I think the addition of pistachios and ginger was brilliant. Sometimes thinking on your feet that way results in the best recipes!