Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

Not your Grandmother’s Fruit Cake

Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

Fruit cake. When I hear those words, I immediately flash back to a horrible, store bought, holiday fruit cake that looked like it would be delicious…but instead made me barf. (literally)

I was sooooo excited to try that holiday sweet bread when I was young. From a kid’s perspective it looked like it would be sweet and filled with candy! But what looked like candy soon turned out to be gross hyper green and red fake cherries strewn about in a dense, dry bread-thing, full of other mysterious, dark fruit bits, and it was terribly disappointing and I’ve avoided all fruit cakes ever since. I assumed that all fruit cake, no matter who made it including my dear Grandmother, was disgusting.

That was over 48 years ago.

Irish Brack (traditional Irish Barmbrack)

Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

As most of you know, I’m baking my way through The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking, and I’m baking things I would never even consider because it’s in the book. Some are new favorites, some are just an item to check off the list of ‘to do’. I figured the Irish Brack would be CHECK, done. But…instead…I love it.

I have no idea what that THING was that I ate when I was a kid…but, that thing they called a fruit cake ruined my perception of something that is really quite glorious.

The GBBO cookbook has some gems. This little Brack feels like it’s thrown in there amidst some pretty fancy raised/plaited loaves, so I didn’t think much of it, and I made it only because it was in the book.

My oh my, this little ‘quick’ (not so quick) bread is DELICIOUS! I didn’t think much about or shop specifically for the dried fruit I added, it was what I had in the cupboard. But, the combination of golden raisins (sultanas), dried sour cherries, blueberries and apricots is a winner.

Mimi J Kent, Baking from Scratch; Irish Brack

Try it, you might like it

If you’ve had really bad fruit cake experience, or if you hate fruit cake, I dare you to try this recipe. You could be sweetly surprised like I was!

I hope you try it, and if you do, let me know what you think!

Irish Brack (Barmbrack, Fruit Bread)

Prep Time: 9 hours

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours, 15 minutes

Category: Uncategorized

Cuisine: Traditional Irish

Servings: 8 – 12

IRISH BRACK

Ingredients

  • 2 tea bags, English Breakfast (or other strong breakfast blend or Assam)
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) boiling water
  • 1 ½ cups (350 grams) dried mixed fruit (Raisins/Sultanas, Cherries, Blueberries, Apricots or your favorites)
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup +1 tablespoon (75 grams) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 1 medium egg, beaten to mix

Instructions

  1. Put the tea bags into a medium-sized heatproof bowl.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags.
  3. Add the brown sugar to the water, stir.
  4. Add the mixed fruit, stir well.
  5. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean, dry tea towel and leave on the counter at room temperature to soak (overnight, or for 8 hours)
  6. After the fruit has soaked long enough, heat your oven to 325°F (170°C).
  7. Prepare a 9×5 loaf pan, grease with butter, and line with a long strip of parchment paper (lengthwise, long enough to use as ‘handles’ to help pull the bread out when finished)
  8. Remove the tea bags (squeeze the bags to remove the liquid before discarding)
  9. Sift the flour, salt, mixed spice and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
  10. Add the pieces of butter to the bowl and rub in until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
  11. Add the beaten egg and the fruit/sugar/tea mixture and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  12. Transfer the heavy, sticky mass to the prepared tin and spread evenly.
  13. Bake in the heated oven for 1 – 1 ¼ hours until well risen and dark golden brown, and a wooden skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  14. Leave to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then run a round bladed knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the loaf and carefully lift it out (using the ends of the paper strip) on to a wire rack.
  15. Wait until completely cold before slicing.
  16. The loaf will be even better if you wrap it in foil or store in a airtight container and leave it to mature for 1-2 days before slicing.
https://mimijkent.com/2019/11/07/not-your-grandmothers-fruit-cake/

The Perfect Fall Dessert: Molasses Toffee Apple Upside Down Cake

Seriously delicious.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much I love fall, and how much I love all the flavors of fall. Apples, ginger, and molasses are some of my all-time favorites. Put them all together in a delicious and lovely way, and it’s the most perfect flavor combination!

Moist. Fluffy. Sweet. Gingery.

I found this recipe in the Bake From Scratch Magazine (which I highly highly recommend getting a subscription!) but this recipe is not listed on their site. Find the Fall 2019 Magazine, trust me. It’s worth it!

It’s a ginger bread cake, with a molasses and brown sugar toffee, and thin (but not too thin) granny smith apple slices, baked ‘upside down’ and then turned out right side up with the apples and toffee on top. Be careful with the topping, the edges can burn and the middle won’t melt if the topping isn’t spread evenly, just fyi!

Here’s a little video of making this cake, my new favorite and definitely a new staple for holiday gatherings, friend-get-togethers, and any other event I can find an excuse to make it and share it!

Delicious! Keep following…this recipe could very well show up on my blog after a few tries of creating my own version!

It’s Fall, Y’all! Time for Fall flavors: Pumpkin Spice, and everything nice.

I love everything about Fall. Since I was a little kid, the arrival of fall weather meant the holidays were almost here and that meant my favorite Pumpkin Pie was on the way!

Fast forward to present day Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING, it’s no longer just for holiday gatherings or family get-togethers. If you love it like I do, we can find something with the flavor of pumpkin spice all day, every day!

Make your own Pumpkin Spice mix

I’ve usually relied on store bought pumpkin spice mixes and flavorings, but it’s really easy to make your own. For this post I bought new McCormick spices, but you can use whatever you prefer. The key is making sure your spices are as fresh as they can be.

Pumpkin Spice Mix

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Category: Uncategorized

Pumpkin Spice Mix

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1.5 teaspoons Ground Allspice
  • 1.5 teaspoons Ground Cloves

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves until well combined. Store in a small jar or container.
https://mimijkent.com/2019/10/17/its-fall-yall-time-for-fall-flavors-pumpkin-spice-and-everything-nice/

Some of my favorite ways to use Pumpkin Spice:

  • Pumpkin or Apple pies
  • Yeasted rolls, yeasted breads or quick breads
  • Cookies and bars
  • Cakes, cupcakes
  • Pancakes!
  • Syrup
  • American buttercream frosting
  • whipped cream
  • Coffee drinks, or add as a syrup in your Latte
  • Breakfast oats
  • roasted fall veggies

Thanks for following! I hope you find time to enjoy your own blend of pumpkin spice in a latte!

Croatian Hrapoćuša Cake, from Brač Island

Excited to share this recipe! It combines my love of baking with my full-time job as a travel specialist with Adventures Croatia! I love Croatia and all of its culinary delights, but their traditional food is so amazing, happy to include this in my blog.

I hope you love Walnuts!

My favorite aspect of this cake is the almost 5 cups of walnuts it uses! I could eat the walnut praline just by itself. The 2 separate elements that make up this cake are worth the effort, and you can make the cake ahead of any special dinners and freeze.

Coming from Croatia’s island of Brač, this dense hrapoćuša cake is loaded with sticky walnuts and hints of lemon. Hrapoćuša is included on the Croatian Republic’s Ministry of Culture’s list of protected cultural heritage, and it is DELICIOUS!

Hrapoćuša; Traditional Walnut Cake from Brač Island

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Category: Dessert, Baking, Baking from Scratch,

Cuisine: Croatian, Tradtional Croatian Dessert, Brac Island

Servings: 16 slices

Hrapoćuša; Traditional Walnut Cake from Brač Island

Ingredients

  • For the Cake:
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 and 3/4 cups white sugar (350 g)
  • 2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (250 g)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped (100 g)
  • For the Walnut Praline topping:
  • 9 egg whites
  • 3 and 1/4 cup white sugar (650 g)
  • 4 and 2/3 cups walnut halves (700 g)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Line the base of a 10 inch (25 cm) springform pan with baking paper, then lightly spray or grease the sides with oil
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)
  3. In a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment (or by hand) whisk the 5 whole eggs and 9 egg yolks, vanilla, lemon zest and sugar until foamy but not stiff. Remove from stand mixer, and gently whisk by hand the flour, baking powder and ground walnuts into the wet ingredients. Mix only until dry ingredients are just barely incorporated, (do not overmix) then pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Depending on your pan size, do not fill the pan more than 1/2 to 2/3 full. The cake will rise slightly, and you’ll need room for the walnut praline topping.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until just baked, test with a knife or skewer. It should come out fairly clean, and you should be able to touch the cake lightly (carefully!) without leaving an indention. Do not overbake!
  5. While the cake is in the oven, work quickly to create the praline topping.
  6. Put 9 egg whites and sugar into a large saucepan, and mix until sugar is incorporated. Add all of the walnut halves into the saucepan, stir to coat.
  7. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes until it’s slightly thicker and a light golden brown.
  8. Add the lemon juice and keep stirring for another further 5 or 6 minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  10. When the bottom layer of the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 320°F (150°C).
  11. Pour the still-hot walnut praline mixture over the cake that just came out of the oven, spreading it evenly and gently over the top.
  12. Put the pan back into the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the top is light brown.
  13. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before removing from the pan.
  14. Run a sharp paring knife around the edges of the springform so nothing sticks, pop the spring, and voila! Ready for cutting and serving!

Notes

The cake is delicious at room temperature and will keep for about 5 – 7 days, but it is best to refrigerate. I recommend microwaving each slice for 10 – 15 seconds prior to serving, goes great with a cup of tea or coffee! ENJOY!

You can make ahead and freeze, and defrost for when you need it, too.

https://mimijkent.com/2019/09/11/croatian-hrapocusa-cake-from-brac-island/

Learning the science of Bread making

I’ve been avoiding making bread from scratch, and at this point, I’ve officially made bread twice in my life. It was always a bit of a mystery, seemed really daunting, time-consuming and a wee bit scary….and I thought for sure it would be really easy to mess up.

Thankfully, with a little bit of learning and a lot of watching my favorite show, The Great British Bake Off, as well as watching their “Masterclasses” and reading as many tips from Paul Hollywood himself from his book “How to Bake”…I’m not nearly as afraid of bread as I was.

I’m still a total novice, but at least I can say I’ve successfully made two loaves and some rolls, and not only were they edible, but they were also really tasty!

I’m sure I’ll have some bad results when I try some more difficult types of bread, but for now, I’m going to pat myself on the back for being able to follow instructions! I’m still on a quest to bake every recipe from the “Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking” cookbook, so the Poppyseed White Bloomer is a good one to try at first, and start to get my kneading muscles stronger!

Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Read the recipe! There are hints, tips, and tricks in the GBBO cookbook, so reading those are really helpful, but the recipe itself has pretty specific instructions. Follow them.
  2. Get a thermometer, and keep the liquid at exactly the right temperature.
  3. Do not be afraid to get your hands in there. Machines are for speed, your hands are for getting the feel of the dough. Get them in there!
  4. Love the dough. Love the process.
  5. Use a good timer. I have two, and you will need them for the different bake times, and proving times.
  6. for a nice crust, I used a big roasting pan on the bottom rack and tossed a cup of cold water into it when I put the loaves into the oven, which steamed up my kitchen but also created a really nice crunch!
  7. And lastly, ENJOY the time and effort. It is so satisfying to eat the fruits of your labor!

Making Fresh Bread for the First Time

I have to admit that I have been intimidated to try baking bread from scratch, but I finally decided to try it. And now, having accomplished it, I have no idea why I was so intimidated!

It might not be perfect, but it was a really simple recipe to follow, it has very simple ingredients, and it tastes really good! (for a simple white bread)

“Do. Or do not. There is no ‘try’.”

Bread seems to be one of those things that has a mind of its own, but if you put the right things together, in the right quantity, at the right time, at the right temperature, magic happens. The recipe is from the Great British Bake Off cookbook I’ve been cooking from start to finish, and Paul Hollywood seems to be the “King of Bread”, so I thought I’d learn from the best! And, it turned out ok! AND, I’m really looking forward to the next recipe. You can find the book here.

My favorite part of the process? Punching down the dough after the first rise! You’ll see the very satisfying moment in my video.

I hope this inspires you to test a new bake, a new bread, or something you’ve always been a little intimidated by. You just might discover it’s not as hard as you think!

Savory Biscuits…not my thing.

Savory…not my thing. Biscuits (aka crackers)…not my thing. Savory Biscuits…really not my thing, and definitely not my favorite.

But, I can officially say “MISSION COMPLETE” on the first section of the Great British Bake Off Cookbook! Up next: BREAD!!

I am super excited to try all of the GBBO cookbook’s bread recipes. After my year on the keto diet (that’s a whole other blog topic, don’t get me started) now bread in small doses is a glorious thing. But biscuits…not so much.

Baking From Scratch: Miette’s Tomboy Cake

Finding zen moments in the kitchen is how I deal with stress. This Tomboy Cake from Miette in San Francisco has been on my “to-bake list” since I was given their lovely cookbook as a birthday gift.

The Tomboy Cake is a delicious, close texture, and divinely moist chocolate cake, with a not-too-sweet fresh raspberry-flavored Italian meringue buttercream frosting. Not only does it taste delicious, but it’s cute as heck, too!

Miette’s signature cake, the recipes make 6×3 layer cakes, so they’re a perfect size!

I love this cookbook, and I love San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop! You can find their cookbook here

Here is the full video, just as an example, not directions! The book gives really detailed instructions, and if I can make it, you can too!

Welcome

Welcome to the launch of my website for my baking!

I am a self-taught, home baker and use baking as a creative outlet and to find moments of peace and calmness in a busy life. My time in the kitchen is truly a time of deep concentration, and every bake is filled with love and the joy of discovering the perfect combination of flavors, textures, ingredients, baking techniques, timing, and above all TASTE. I’ve always loved baking. And, I love the little bit of SCIENCE mixed with creativity. My main motivation is the end result: sharing with friends and family and that moment of ‘WOW’ when they try my bakes.

I loved baking with my mom when I was little and fell in love with pumpkin pie and other holiday treats she would bake. I enjoyed my ‘home ec’ class in Jr. High where one of the first things I baked on my own was Zucchini bread, and ever since then I have been baking from scratch, and it’s now over 35 years later. Experimenting and trying many recipes over the years, sharing with friends and family whenever possible. Although I stopped eating sugar and flour for a bit all in the name of ‘being healthy’…but after a few years of trying a few different restrictive diets, I’ve taken on the motto of “Finding Balance”, and I’ve been able to incorporate my love of chocolate, sugar, flour, and butter into my diet in moderation, and brought delicious baked goods back into my life!

Recently having moved into a brand new kitchen, it’s inspired me to get baking again! This website will eventually include some of my newly tested and approved recipes. For now, I’m only posting the photo/video montages of my bakes. They’re not polished or edited professionally, but they are honest and I hope entertaining.

Be sure to become a subscriber to my blog, and make sure to join my VIP List! I’ll be adding new videos as I bake, and when the recipes are available, you’ll be the first to know.

Stay tuned! And thank you for following me!