Fig and Anise Irish Soda Bread…


Hey guys! Just wanted to share a recipe with y’all.  I was inspired to make a Fig and Anise bread by my longing and missing Terra Breads in Vancouver.  They make the most amazing Fig and Anise loaf and I wish I could get it here.  This recipe, by Kristine Kidd is from her Williams-Sonoma Cookbook and is, as she mentions, an Irish Soda bread recipe and therefore really nothing like the Terra Breads loaf.  I modified it further by adding pumpkin seeds (I wanted to add walnuts like the Terra Breads version but I didn’t have any!) and I used soy milk + apple cider vinegar instead of buttermilk.  This bread is so good with a slab of cheddar or just toasted with some butter. Enjoy!

Fig and Anise Quick Bread from
For a memorable finish to a company dinner, offer a plate of assorted farmstead cheeses, such as a fresh goat’s milk cheese, a bloomy rind cheese, an aged hard cheese, and a pungent blue, with thin wedges of this aromatic round loaf. A glass of Port is a perfect accompaniment.
Makes 1 round loaf
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole- wheat flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon aniseed, lightly crushed in a mortar, plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon baking soda 
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature 
1 cup (about 6 ounces) coarsely chopped dried figs
¾ cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing 
1 egg
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon aniseed, baking soda, and salt. Scatter the butter over the top. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the figs. 
In a small bowl, whisk together the ¾ cup buttermilk and the egg until blended. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients just until blended and a soft dough forms. 
Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 20 turns. Form the dough into a ball. Place in the prepared pan and flatten to 1½ inches thick. Cut a large cross 1/3 inch deep into the dough. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with aniseed. 
Bake until the bread is light brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 40 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and then turn right side up to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into thin wedges.

Cheese and Onion Sourdough!

cheese and onion sourdough.

Mmmm…bread.  How I love thee.  Unfortunately a bit too much.  I never buy white bread but I do love sourdough.  I am not going to go into how to make your own sourdough starter.  There are a tonne of websites that explain how to do this.  I have a pretty old funky starter going on right now and I’ve had it for probably a couple of years now.  The best way to get your starter, um, started is by getting a cup or so from a friend and grow your own from there.  That’s how I got mine and it’s survived this long.  They are very forgiving.  When I want my starter amped up and ready for baking, I take it out of the fridge and put it on the counter the night before and “feed” it.  When I am not going to use it for a while, I keep it in the fridge and it kind of goes dormant.  I kept it like this the whole time I was travelling without feeding it.  apparently you can also freeze the starter but I don’t know how this works since I would think it would kill the active bacterial goodness.  Anyway, that is my bit on starter.  If you want me to mail you some, we can try that too!  This recipe is an amalgamation of a few sourdough recipes I’ve used over the years but this time I decided to make it a bit more interesting with the onions and cheese.


  • 1c. grated cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)
  • 1 small onion (fried and slightly caramelized in butter and set aside to cool)
  • 4 1/2-4 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pkg yeast (use the quick kind or else you have to wait forever for the bread to rise)
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 tbsp. margarine or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c. sourdough starter
  • 1 egg white (to brush on the top of the loaves for browning)

In a large bowl combine 1 c. of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast and add to this the 1c. of water and your oil or margarine.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Add starter and and mix.  Add flour gradually, a cup at a time until you get a slightly sticky consistency you can work with.  This might be a bit tricky for first time bread makers but basically you want to get to the point where it is too hard to mix it with a spoon and you gotta get your hands in there to keep it together.  Turn out the dough onto a very well floured surface and begin to knead, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to everything.  Knead for about 10 minutes.  By this time you should have a pliable, smooth dough that is not sticky.  

Put the dough in a bowl and drizzle some oil all over it and turn it to coat.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest about one hour.  

Uncover the dough which should now be double its original size or more.  Punch all the air out and let it rest for about 15 minutes.  

Cut the dough into two halves.  Stretch out one of the halves into kind of a rectangle shape about a foot long and sprinkle the cheese and onions over it as if it were a really thick pizza.  Roll the dough up like a jelly roll and tuck the ends all under so it’s a round ball again.  Do not worry about making this look pretty or perfect.  As long as you get a ball by the end of it all, it will turn out fine.  Just make sure you don’t have cheese poking out or it probably will burn in the oven.  

Place the two loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with cornmeal or flour.  Let rest and rise another hour.  Preheat your oven when necessary during this “resting” hour to 375F. After the hour, your loaves should have grown again, to about double their size.  Don’t worry too much if they are touching on the pan.  You can separate them later when they are done.  

With a pastry brush, brush the egg white over the surface of both loaves.

Bake in the oven about 40 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them with a knife or some such thing.

Let cool completely before cutting, no matter how hard it is to wait!



Recipe: Tassajara Yeasted Bread

This recipe is from the Tassajara Bread Book. As this is my first recipe post, I thought I should let y’all know a few hints when it comes to following my recipes:

-I do not claim to be a chef, baker, and certainly not a photographer
-I have a point and shoot that I hate and look forward to the day when I can buy my Canon Rebel. Please excuse any blurriness/bad lighting etc
-I rarely follow a recipe exactly and will include any modifications

So! On to the Tassajara Bread book. I was initially inspired by Tassajara’s Composite of Kitchen Necessities, copied out here and have had the book for while now. This was my first recipe I tried from the book. The recipe makes four loaves which is enough for a monastery but too much for my house of two. I split the recipe in half, making two loaves and froze one after it cooled down. The recipe below is the full four loaf one as exactly written in the book:

Tassarjara Yeasted Bread

(the fundamental Tassajara Yeasted Bread recipe-four loaves)


  • 6c. lukewarm water
  • 2Tbsp. yeast (2 pkgs)
  • 1/2-3/4c sweetening (honey, molasses, brown sugar)
  • 2c dry milk (optional)
  • 7-9c whole wheat flour (substitute 2 or more cups unbleached white flour if desired)


  • 2-1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 c-1c oil (or butter, margarine etc)
  • 6-8 c. additional whole wheat flour
  • 2-3 c whole wheat flour (for kneading)

(ed. note-I would just like to point out that the version you see in the photos below did not include dry milk, only because I didn’t have any.  The sweetener was honey and the oil was canola.  I used no white flour.)

Dissolve yeast in water.  Stir in sweetening and milk.  Stir in whole wheat flour until thick batter is formed.

Beat well with a spoon (100 strokes).  Let rise 60 minutes.  Fold in salt and oil.  Fold in additional flour until dough comes away from sides of bowl.

Knead on floured board, using more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to board, about 10-15 minutes until dough is smooth.  Let rise 50 minutes.  Punch down.  Let rise 40 minutes.  Shape into loaves.

(ed. note-I should point out it as at this point that I strayed away from the recipe a bit.  I decided I wanted stuff *in* my bread and so I mixed in chopped figs and walnuts into one loaf and mixed seeds (flax, pumpkin, sunflower) into the other one)

Let rise 20 minutes.

Bake in 350F oven for one hour.  Remove from pans and let cool, or eat right away.

NB: If I could have done one thing differently with this bread, it would have been to grease the pans, use parchment paper-anything.  For some reason, perhaps I didn’t knead in enough flour? this bread stuck like crazy to the loaf pan and I lost quite a bit of it getting it out.  Any ideas folks? I am open to all and any suggestions as I am a novice bread baker.  That being said, this was amazing with butter right out of the oven and made fantastic sandwiches for days after.  Froze well, but molds quickly, due to lack of garbage ingredients/preservatives.