Sunday, August 14, 2016

Applesauce Cheddar Quick Bread

     We eat an alarming amount of bread in this house. The Wife loves her bread. The Spud really, really likes her bread. I certainly enjoy bread. We embrace gluten lovingly and with all our beings. We love it enough that we eventually started using the hashtag #sundaysareforbaking. That makes it serious. I think. Maybe not. This particular bread is from an ancient canning book that still gets a lot of mileage in our house. It's a great quick bread. If you make your own applesauce, which we do, it's even better. The timing on the bread is a little iffy. It took us way longer to bake than the book called for. This is a fantastic breakfast bread, spread with a little sweet butter or marmalade. Perhaps top it with my Mulberry Jam? I imagine it would make a dynamite peanut butter and jelly sandwich, too. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Applesauce Cheddar Quick Bread
via BH&G Home Canning Cook Book

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup applesauce (why not try my Peach Bourbon Applesauce!)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (omitted. The Wife is not a huge fan of nuts in her bread.)
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (maybe I'm not doing this for long enough, because I have never been able to achieve light and fluffy consistency. I always end up with something on par with cake frosting)
  2. Add eggs, beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, soda and salt. Add to the creamed butter mix. Stir in the applesauce, cheese and nuts (if using)
  4. Turn into a greased loaf pan (what am I, a wizard? I never got a Hogwarts letter so I'm not really up on my Transfiguration and Polymorph spells. How about I just dump the mixture into a loaf pan?)
  5. Bake at 350F (180C, Gasmark 4) for 50-55 minutes (fair warning, this may take way longer than the stated time. It took me closer to 75-90 minutes. Just run it for the 55, then check it with a knife. If it comes out clean, you're fine. If it comes out wet, you're not done. If it comes out covered in blood and ichor, your oven is possessed.) Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Remove to finish cooling on a wire rack.
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Friday, August 5, 2016

Mulberry Jam

     There is great debate around here as to the standing of the mulberry tree. Many see it as a weed. And you know what?  They're totally right. Left unchecked, you can watch mulberries inexorably take over your yard. We have the damned things poking out from about every bush in our yard. They even grow out of rocks. Not even joking. They're next to impossible to kill once they get established. Then, there's the fruiting mulberries. These aren't so bad. I mean, ok, they're bad. They're just as invasive and if the birds get to the berries before you do, everything in the area is covered in purple shit. So I think what we can take away from this discussion is that mulberries are the worst thing ever. That's why I collect like ten pounds of berries each season. As awful as the trees may be, the berries are actually pretty good. They have a nice color and a mild sweetness. I decided to make them into jam this year. I'm going to come out and admit I think I did something wrong. I'm thinking I used either too much sugar, too much pectin, or possibly both. This stuff is thick.
Also useful for caulking doors and windows,
if you don't mind the ants.

As far as jam (jelly? conserve? I can't tell that shit apart) goes, it's quite tasty, but a little tough to work with. It helps to warm it up a bit before you use it. It's great on a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese, or even over some vanilla ice cream. Give it a try and mess around with the pectin and sugar and let me know what you come up with. As always, notes are in blue.

Mulberry Jam
(yields: 7 half pint jars)

  • 4 cups mulberries
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 box (1.75 ounce) powdered pectin

  1. Run fruit through a food mill. 
  2. Take the milled fruit and resulting juice into a stainless steel pot
  3. Add pectin, stir and bring to a rolling boil on high heat
  4. Add the sugar. Bring back to a rolling boil and boil EXACTLY one minute (this is straight off the Sure-Jel instructions and they are not kidding. I've screwed this up and ended with quarts of cinnamon-apple syrup. Not with this recipe, mind you. We're using mulberries here. If we started with mulberries and ended with cinnamon-apple, we'd be dealing with some sort of alchemy.) 
    Wrong alchemy
  5. Watch in horror as the entire mixture foams up over the top of the pot and makes a huge fucking mess of the stove top (alternatively, stir constantly and be ready to adjust the heat to prevent foaming)
  6. Get the pot off the heat and start getting it into half pint jars. This stuff will start setting fairly quick. 
  7. Seal the lids and process in a boiling water bath for five minutes (as always, check with the National Center for Home Food Preparation to ensure you're not accidentally poisoning anyone)
  8. After five minutes, remove jars to a wire rack and wait for the satisfying "thunk" that means they're sealed. Store in a cool dark place for up to a year or until you're too afraid to open it.
  9. Reflect on how "Mulberry Jam" would be an awesome name for a funk band.
Good Times