Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

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My favorite baking book this year has to be Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours. The recipes are wholesome, accessible and appealing; the photography has a warm, rustic simplicity that I love. When I browse through the book I want to make – and taste – just about everything in it.

I’ve been experimenting with switching out butter for olive oil in baking, which led to Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies a few weeks ago. I’ve also had this recipe for Olive Oil Cake from Kim Boyce’s book flagged for months, and after making it a few times I can say it’s definitely a keeper.

These are perfect little breads to give as gifts, or to snack on when you crave a bite of something not-too-sweet.

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I have a special place for rosemary in my cooking, so any time I see an opportunity to highlight its distinctive piney-lemon character I jump in to explore.

The first time I baked this lightly sweet cake (to me it’s actually more of a quick bread than a cake), I threw in some freshly grated lemon zest. Lemon is a nice partner with the fruity taste of the olive oil and chocolate, but it got a little lost in there.

Next, I tried adding some ground coriander, a spice that has essential elements of citrus and balsam. You barely notice it in the background, but I think it naturally unites the slightly unusual pairing of chocolate with rosemary and olive oil.

I couldn’t help gilding the rosemary, so I sprinkled rosemary sugar leftover from my Italian Greyhounds over the tops just before putting them in the oven.

Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

Yield: 1 standard loaf or 4 mini loaves

Ingredients

3/4 cup spelt flour (or use an equal amount of all purpose flour)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

3 eggs

1 cup olive oil

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch or smaller pieces

Rosemary sugar

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat 4 small loaf pans (5" x 2") or one regular loaf pan with olive oil. Place the pans on a baking sheet. If using a single loaf pan, you can skip the baking sheet.
  3. Put the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and coriander in a large bowl. Use a whisk to blend the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk together. Add the milk and rosemary and mix again just to blend.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, stirring gently to combine. Stir in the chocolate until evenly distributed.
  6. Divide the batter among the pans and smooth the top. Sprinkle tops evenly with some Rosemary Sugar, about 2 teaspoons each, or regular sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes for small loaves; 45- 50 minutes for standard loaf or until the tops are domed and a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack before slicing either warm or cool.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/rosemary-bittersweet-chocolate-quick-bread/

Cranberry Orange Buckle

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I like to hoard cranberries in the fall, since it seems like they totally disappear after the holidays. I’m not sure why more grocers don’t stock them in the freezer section, but I can never seem to find them there.

Cranberries freeze perfectly so I try to put a few pounds away in the freezer. Every now and then I throw a handful into a strawberry-raspberry smoothie and bake some into muffins and quick breads.

This recipe comes from Rustic Fruit Desserts,  a cute little book that I first saw at my sister-in-law L’s house last summer. She lives in Portland – lucky duck!- and we celebrated her birthday in July with a beautiful handmade cake from Baker & Spice, owned by co-author Julie Richardson.

It’s the kind of bakery that you want to live around the corner from, where they make everything in small batches using  great ingredients and local, seasonal produce. How sweet is that!

I’m not much of a dessert eater and even less of a fussy dessert maker, so this cookbook is just my style. The recipes are all simple to make and rely on whatever fruit happens to be in season.

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I think my favorite part of this cake is the crunchy top; some of the berries burst open and blend with the sugary vanilla crumbs to make a nice, sweet-tart pop when you take a bite.
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Cranberry Orange Buckle

Yield: 1 9-inch square cake

Ingredients

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 teaspoons pure vanila extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

Grated zest of one orange

2 eggs

1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

2 cups (8 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Pulse the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the butter, 1/2 cup of the flour, 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a food processor (or in a bowl using a fork or pastry blender) until coarse crumbs form; set aside for topping.
  3. Sift the remaining flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
  4. Cream the remaining butter, remaining sugar and orange zest in a bowl with a handheld mixer or in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and reduce mixer speed to low; stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture and half the yogurt. Repeat, ending with the last third of flour. Stir in 1 cup of the cranberries.
  5. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and distribute the remaining cranberries over the top. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the cranberries.
  6. Bake 45 - 50 minutes on the middle rack, or until light golden brown and top is firm.
http://familystylefood.com/2009/11/cranberry-orange-buckle/