Margaret M. Johnson"> Special Delivery for Special Moms | Arts & Leisure | Irish Echo
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Special Delivery for Special Moms

May 4, 2020

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Lemon Poppyseed Loaf.

 

Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

Mother’s Day, a national holiday celebrated on the second Sunday of May in the United States, was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 to recognize the contributions that mothers and mother figures make to American society. President Woodrow Wilson named it an official holiday in 1914. In Ireland, the tradition is called Mothering Sunday, and it’s celebrated there on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It might have been introduced by Elizabethan settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to allow folks to return to the church where they were baptized and to the towns and villages where they grew up. In time, it became customary for young people who were working as servants in large houses to be given a holiday so they could visit their mother. 

Traditionally, they took a gift of hand-me-down clothing from their employers or a Mothering Cake, a “sturdy” light fruitcake made with spices, dried fruits and candied peel that would travel well. With social distancing practices still in place this Sunday, you can, or course, honor Mom with an internet purchase, but if you’re close enough to personally deliver a gift yourself, you might want to revive the traditional Mothering Cake idea with one of these “sturdy” tea loaves from my new cookbook, Tea Time in Ireland. In it I share some of my most memorable tea experiences along with recipes from legendary hotel tearooms like The Shelbourne, The Merrion, and Ashford Castle and from smaller tea venues like Cupán Tea in Galway and Castlewood House in Dingle; recipes from Irish home cooks join the mix. To order a signed copy, visit irishcook.com.

 

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EARL GREY TEA BRACK

MAKES 2 LOAVES

In this recipe, the fruit is boiled in butter and Earl Grey tea before being mixed with the dry ingredients. The citrus and bergamot flavors of the tea provide a lovely fresh taste.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 1/4 cups water

2 Earl Grey tea bags

1 cup currants

1 cup golden raisins

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie or Mixed Spice 

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon apricot jam mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for glaze (optional)

Softened butter, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease two 7-inch loaf pans and dust with flour; tap out excess.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring butter, sugar, water, tea bags, currants, and raisins to boil; stir well and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes; discard tea bags.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and pumpkin pie or Mixed Spice. Stir in to fruit mixture and then stir in egg.

4. Transfer mixture to prepared pans and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert breads onto rack and then return to upright. 

5. In a small bowl, heat jam and water in a microwave oven on HIGH for 20 to 25 seconds, or until runny; brush over top of warm cake (optional). Let cool completely before cutting into slices. Serve spread with butter, if desired.

Marmalade and apricot tea bread on plate.

 

APRICOT-WALNUT TEA LOAVES

MAKES 2 LOAVES

This  tea loaf is riff on tea brack. Instead of tea, water plumps up the apricots and raisins and both white and wheat flour give it a lovely texture. If you wish, spread the top with apricot jam for added sweetness.  

1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots

1 cup golden raisins

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 1/3 cup sugar 

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon apricot jam mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for glaze (optional)

Softened butter, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease two 7-inch loaf pans and dust with flour; tap out excess.

2. In a medium bowl, combine apricots, raisins, and water; let sit for 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in egg. With a wooden spoon, stir in all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon alternating with apricot mixture; stir in walnuts.

4. Transfer mixture to prepared pans and bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until top is golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert breads onto rack and then return to upright.

5. In a small bowl, heat apricot jam and water in a microwave on HIGH for 20 to 25 seconds, or until runny; brush over top of warm cake (optional). Let cool completely before cutting into slices. Serve spread with butter, if desired.

LEMON POPPY SEED TEA LOAF

MAKES 1 LOAF

Chef Noel McMeel’s food philosophy, whether cooking for friends at home or overseeing the kitchen at Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh, is based on simplicity. But “simple needn’t be bland or boring,” he says, and offers this lovely tea bread with flavors of earthy poppy seed and tart lemon as an example. 

For the loaf

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 large egg, beaten

2/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 large lemon

For the glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Make bread. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and dust with flour; tap out excess. 

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and poppy seeds. Add egg, oil, milk, almond and vanilla extracts and lemon zest; beat with an electric mixer on medium for about 2 minutes, or until blended.

3. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and then return to upright.

4. Make glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, lemon juice, butter, and vanilla until smooth; pour over warm bread. Cut into slices.

      Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of her new cookbook “Teatime in Ireland,” visit www.irishcook.com

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