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Saturday, February 18, 2012


Welsh Bara Brith
Happy St. Davids Day
 Cymru Am Byth!!

Saint David’s Day is celebrated on March 1 to commemorate St. David, the Patron Saint of Wales, who died around 589.     This day has been declared a national “Feast Day” & is celebrated every year in Wales as well as the USA.     

A favorite traditional bread of Wales is Bara Brith, commonly known as “Speckled Bread.”  It’s delightfully packed full of dried fruit: usually raisins, currants &something called “Candied Peel” which in American terms could be classified as mixed candied dried fruit.  I used a combination of dried cranberries, apricots, prunes and raisins primarily because it what I had in my pantry.  You can mix pretty much any dried fruit combination & this bread will be wonderful. 

I also thought it would be interesting & more attractive of course, to bake individual portions in a miniature  bundt pan that makes 12 at a time.  Traditionally Bara Brith is baked in a regular size bread loaf pan then sliced and buttered.   You can do that too but please first check out my version.  These would be great to serve at breakfast, brunch or tea and a nice change from the proverbial  fare of pastries and muffins.  Enjoy!!  Cymru Am Byth!!

Welsh Bara Brith
4 Ounces Dried Cranberries
4 Ounces Dried Apricots (Sliced Finely)
4 Ounces Prunes (Sliced Finely)
4 Ounces Raisins
1 Cup Strong Black Tea (I used PG Tips.   A strong English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast is good.)
1 Stick Salted Butter
2 Heaping Teaspoons Orange Marmalade
2 Eggs Beaten
16 Ounces Flour ( ½ Self Rising White Flour, ½ Whole Wheat Flour)
6 Ounces Soft Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons All Spice

In medium bowl or Rubber Made container mix all berries and pour tea over completely covering all.  Cover, refrigerate and leave over night.
In large pan melt stick of butter and add marmalade.  Let cool 5 minutes add beaten eggs, then fruit.  Mix flour, brown sugar and spice in small bowl then add to fruit.

Heat oven 350degrees    I used a miniature Bundt pan making 12 small cakes.  Spray with Baking Spray with Flour. Melt ½ Stick of butter & pour a small amount in each bundt just barely covering the bottom.
Spoon batter ¾ full and bake 30 minutes   
Let cool and remove each from pan.

1 Stick Butter (Very Soft)
Powder Sugar to sprinkle
To garnish  let tiny loaves cool, sprinkle with power sugar   &  with pastry bag and small flower tip, pipe on a tiny flower of butter  to the top of each.  


Friday, February 3, 2012


I’m going to reveal a secret today that some might say is a major character flaw… Perhaps you could also say, “You can never trust a skinny cook who doesn’t like chocolate.” but quite frankly…….  I’m not a big fan.   I know I know it’s truly shocking but it’s never my first choice of sweet.

Okay so, “What do I like you ask?????”….. I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE SUGAR COOKIES.!!!!.
 I remember when growing in Syracuse Kansan, my best friend’s mother, Naomi Grissom  made the most kick ass sugar cookies IN THE WORLD and we  would be waiting, pacing, salivating… till the last cookie was iced and she  would allow us into the kitchen for some quality “chow down on sugar cookie time.”  I can still taste them… gorgeous & buttery & to this day the best I’ve had “EVER.”   Thank you Charlotte for being my best friend since 3rd Grade and inviting me to your house for some of the best cooking I can plant in what memory I have left.

So it’s a hard act to follow but here is my take on sugar cookies and perfect timing for the crazy and uncommon non chocolate eaters out there who are ready to celebrate VALENTINES DAY.         

1 ½ Cups Sifted Confectioners Sugar
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
½ Teaspoon Almond Extract
2 ½ Cups Sifted All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Cream of Tarter
2 Cups Sifted Confectioners Sugar
½ Teaspoon Almond  Extract
1/3  Cup Milk
Assorted Colors of Food Coloring

In mixer or food processor, add butter & sugar  blend well.  Add in egg, vanilla & almond extract, beat till light & fluffy.  In medium bowl combined all dry ingredients: Flour, soda & cream of tartar.  Add to batter and blend well.

Divide dough into two balls and powder with flour. Place each ball between parchment paper and roll to flatten about an inch thick. Place on cookie sheet, then cover with foil & refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Roll dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness.  With cookie cutter, cut out about 2x2 inch heart shapes, circles and assorted smaller hearts and round shapes.  Place cookies on parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake @ 375 degrees for about 7-8 minutes.  Be sure to leave adequate space, about an inch between each cookie on the tray, so they don’t spread into each other while baking.   

Combine sugar, almond extract and milk, blend to the consistency of thin glue.  Pour white icing into separate bowls depending on how many colors you plan to use.  Add food coloring to each and create the colors you like.  I added more of the white icing in one bowl and mixed purple and red in the other.  After using enough of the white I added black food coloring to give the 4th color.  Make sure the bowls are large enough to dip the face of the cookie into it.

To decorate, dip top side of cookie into your icing choice. Remove quickly and let excess drip off. Set on cookie rack.  Use knife to smooth edges if necessary. Let dry before adding small shapes.  Use a small amount of the icing to glue smaller shapes on to the large heart and circles.  You can mix and match and choose your own design.  Let’s do cookies!