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/

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!

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!