Monday, October 1, 2012

Buckwheat Molasses Quick Bread

Fall is in the air, and it seems only fitting that molasses, nutmeg, and cinnamon are in the bread I've just made. The buckwheat, I guess, is just along for the ride.

The weather isn't the only thing that has changed over the last few months; I recently moved from one edge of the US to the other. After some vacation time, hunting for a place, and some unpacking and furnishing, I've more or less settled in and I'm looking forward to sharing my creations again.

My past posts have centered on food I've made for others. In most of those cases, I meticulously followed recipes and posted my favorites. I've also done a few comparison posts where I first test a few recipes of the same item, review them, and subsequently create my own version of the dish.

What I haven't yet shared is any of my personal cooking and baking. I tend to be experimental when cooking for myself, often paying more respect to my own imagination (and taste buds) than to the recipe at hand (if there even is one). I'll tweak recipes until they taste right, I'll sometimes use 10 different recipes as a source of suggestions for one dish, and I'll also go into uncharted territory, creating something imagined or previously experienced. Sometimes, things don't turn out. The upside is frequent learning, and food that keeps getting better. I still have a lot to learn.

Along those lines, I've decided to share one of the few things I've baked recently -- one that worked out. What began as a recipe for jalapeƱo onion cornbread morphed over the course of several batches and several weeks to become something quite different, but, at least for me, much more enjoyable: a sweet molasses quick bread packed with fall flavor.

The bread is lightly sweet, moist and springy, and the buckwheat flour lends a pleasant touch. Chowing down brought back childhood memories of special buckwheat-pancake breakfasts around the kitchen table. I've mostly snacked on the bread between meals, or had a square of it in the morning with coffee. I can also imagine enjoying it with a glass of hot cider, a dollop of hot homemade applesauce, or as I would a pancake: with a good dose of maple syrup.

For those who are curious, behold: a recipe.

Buckwheat Molasses Sweet Bread Recipe
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (more or less to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (more or less to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup water mixed with 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (OR 2 eggs instead of water and flaxseed)
1 cup water
~3 blocks of dark jaggery* chopped & dissolved in the previous cup of water (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper.
Combine dry ingredients well.
Combine wet ingredients well.
Mix the two until just moistened.
Pour into pan, bake 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick pressed into the center comes out clean.
Lift the bread out of the pan using the edges of the parchment paper, and allow to cool 10 or 15 minutes before cutting.

*A very dark palm sugar jaggery happens to be the type of sugar I've had on hand lately. Mine is in blocks about the volume of six playing dice. I mainly use it for sweetening Thai curries, but it is also great for fall desserts because it has a complex flavor similar to brown sugar. In this case, the best thing to use instead of jaggery would be dark brown sugar, though I don't have an exact conversion to suggest. Try starting with 6 tablespoons, and adjust sweetness to your own preferences from there.

Happy fall!