Sunday, March 21, 2010

Apricot-caraway tea bread

I can't really call this Irish soda bread, or even Irish-American soda bread, since my ingredient limitations forced my creative hand (as they tend to do). This is, though, a basic soda bread - a quick bread leavened with baking soda instead of yeast. Since I ran out of raisins (and was already using golden ones at that), I supplemented with chopped, dried apricots. And since I was already going a different direction with this bread, I baked it in a buttered terrine pan (and added a bit extra sugar and buttermilk to the dough, per Joy of Cooking's direction) to yield a neat, uniform loaf with an elegant crumb. "I may as well," I figured.

I toasted the caraway to draw out the sweet, caramel-y undertones of the seeds, and the resulting aroma of this baking loaf was so powerfully evocative of my mother that I had to take a triple-take with my nose to pinpoint the reason. She never baked this bread, in my recollection, but the bread machine she gave me for Christmas when I was 19 years old came with a mix for this very bread (the standard version of it). This versatile recipe needs no such contraption, though; in fact, it begs to come out of an old-fashioned oven, cradled in mitt-clad hands.

Yankee it may be, we indeed enjoyed this lovely loaf on St. Patrick's Day, along with pressure-cooked corned beef brisket, garlicky roasted cabbage and champ (to be posted later this week). Served with tea (Constant Comment - my mother's favorite) and toasted with butter, leftovers made the pleasantest of breakfasts.


A Canadian Foodie said...

What a great, lovely, simple idea.I love caraway... and with apricot and tea... YUMMMM. Also, I am sure that this is not difficult to make. It goes on my list of "to do's", for sure. I am not sure of the occasion. I will find one.
Thank you,

Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Dare I say another one of your amazing creations? Great flavours Heather...would never have thought to use caraway and apricots.

Núria said...

Is caraway the same as cumin? I can imagine the powerful esences coming from your kitchen. Mmmm, delicious recipe :D

Foodycat said...

Caraway - ick. I think it is the only spice I really cannot get along with. But without it, I think this bread would be perfect!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I can almost imagine the texture based on your description. I'm with you on making do with the ingredients you have. It's the basis of most of the stuff on my blog.

Manggy said...

O hai! I can't quite remember when the last baking project you had was. I think it involved bananas... And meringue... :P Anyway, the St. Patrick's Day dinner you described (with this lovely bread of course, though I haven't the foggiest what caraway tastes or smells like) sounds freaking fantastic. Wish I was there!
(really really. You keep inviting me and one day it may happen! :P )

Bellini Valli said...

I could never turn down a slice of this soda bread Heather. The caraway seeds remind me of my German neighbours and the loaves they would share with us.

matt said...

great, great bread. Apricot and caraway? sounds fantastic.

glamah16 said...

First I want that terrine pan. Love that you are baking. You are a natural!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Oh, hallllOOOOO!

Great combo of flavours, Heather. Apricots are, IMHO, rather underused in this kind of thing. Great to see them getting the main billing here.

The Spiteful Chef said...

Caraway and I have never seen eye to eye, but I do love apricots, and I also love the shape of the terrine pan instead of a regulation loafer.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Great improvisation. Definitely an entirely new creation. I get tired of the same old soda bread myself, so this would be a great way to change it up.

Lo said...

Caraway and apricot... now that's a brilliant combination. My foodie wheels are definitely turning. Love the long elegant shape of the bread too. Elevates the humble soda bread a bit, no?

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This is totally rockin' Heather! I love it!!! Way to mix it up!

Heather said...

Valerie - Thank you! I will definitely be tweaking this recipe again.

Peter - Neither would I at first, but they both go well with pork and German flavors, if you think about it.

Núria - Not quite the same, though they are both in the carrot family (botanically) and are traditionally savory.

Alicia - Believe it or not, it really does work with this bread. But I bet a little cardamom would be lovely too.

Marc - That's why I like your blog so much! Plus running to the store for only one ingredient pretty much blows.

Marky! - Yes, my dessert baking nearly always ends in disaster (but for my one foolproof brownie recipe). Quickbreads are easy, thoguh.

Val - You bring the beer, I'll bring the bread. :)

Matt - Those flavors really do work! I bet they'd go nicely with pork loin and spaetzle, too.

Courtney - I love it. I still haven't used it to make a terrine, though. :P

Sketti! - I agree. I love using alternative dried fruits. I bet a prune would be nice in a quickbread.

Kristie - It's really a pleasant combination, trust me. But then, I'm a pumpernickel lover.

Rachel - It really isn't soda bread anymore, after all these tweaks. Nice starter recipe, though.

Lo - Mine too! I think I'll start baking a loaf like this once a week or so. It's nice to have baked goods around the house for breakfast.

Emily said...

Heather, the bread looks amazing. I can only imagine how delicious it was. I hardly ever use caraway, but I want to.