Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Borrowed Baking

I love when I can bake with confidence... not necessarily by sticking hard and fast to a written recipe (since we know how well that works for me!), but instead taking something tried and true and using it as a base for my own whimsy. The food blogging world (and if you follow me you know of my latest obsession with Twitter) have become indespensible for this. How and where else can you (to paraphrase Nicole) get an answer to any question in under 2 minutes - on any topic? I begin most of my time online perusing FoodGawker too.

The weird thing is that half the time I don't know when or how I stumble onto most of the base recipes I use! Most of the time, I record the source (simply because the recipe is usually locked into my IE "Favourites" folder), but as to how I got there? Anyone's guess!

Such is the case with one of the best, fruitiest and balanced sweet breads I have ever made. I know that Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking wrote the initial post I came onto, and I know I'm not alone in being drawn to her title: Fool Proof Baking. Inside the previous post, she had written about her latest baking escapades and frustration with not finding a good recipe to take to a bake sale. Blog world to the rescue once again - in the form of a fruitcake recipe from Jacqueline (AKA Holler) at Tinned Tomatoes. Her mom's fruitcake. People, if a mother's recipe is not tried and true, I don't know what is! I snatched up both versions of the recipe and started investigating their nuances, such as what was the actual amount of butter used? The recipes both called for fractions of a "block" (and as it turned out, Wendy's used half the amount that Jacqueline's did).

In the end, I wound up drastically modifying the recipe, and while I'm not going to say it's better than Jacqueline's mom's (I don't mess with the mother!) I am thoroughly pleased by my results.

I eventually wound up making the risky switch from the solid fat (butter) to a blend of canola oil and applesauce. The sultanas became a mixture of dried cranberries and dark raisins (soaked in juice rather than the called-for water), while the egg became an (equally binding) banana. Given the extra sweetening power of the juice and banana I cut down the sugar and used dark brown rather than white. I didn't have any self-raising flour (and it's pricey to buy for one recipe) so I made my own, blending baking powder, salt, all-purpose and whole wheat flours with the spice blend and baking soda. The baking time and temperature stayed the same, and while I can't vouch for the taste myself - it went into work with Mom - the lack of even a crumb on the returned plate can speak for the addictive qualities of this snack. Certainly if the aroma that filled the kitchen while it baked was any indication, you'd be hard pressed to even let it cool before cuttting yourself a piece!

Just make sure you don't open the oven door until it's at least 30 minutes into the bake time - the low, long bake is key to the moisture. Next time I make this I'm going to try adding dried cherries and apricots to the mixture. You could probably get up to 8oz of dry fruit total into the cake at any rate.

(Not) Holler's Mom's Fruit Loaf
Serves 12
2 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup fruit juice or water (I used a 100% cranberry-grape cocktail)
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 oz raisins
2 oz dried cranberries
1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 over-ripe banana, mashed
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Bring oil, applesauce, water, sugar, raisins, cranberries and spice to a boil in a medium pot.
  2. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes, then cool 30-60 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 300F, grease a loaf pan.
  4. Add vanilla, banana, flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt to the pan mixture and mix gently but thoroughly.
  5. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tests done. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then turn out and cool on wire rack.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 209.0
Total Fat: 3.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 9.2 mg
Total Carbs: 44.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 2.9 g

With thanks to Wendy and Jacqueline, I'm passing this off to the Bookmarked Recipes Blog Event.

1 comment :

Esme said...

Sarah-thanks for the comment I am from Ottawa originally.