Breads Classic Favorites Easy Baking Holiday desserts

Irish Soda Bread… Because I’m All About Celebrating Someone Else’s Roots

…Especially when “someone else’s roots” involve something delicious and full of sugar and butter.

(A tune from my favorite Irishman, from a show I’m privileged to have attended)

So yes, I decided to gift you all with a spur-of-the-moment post because I’ve been craving soda bread for an unbelievably long time. What’s “unbelievably long,” you ask? Oh, I’d say it’s been about ten days.

Yep. I’m addicted. And what better time to share this addiction with all of you dear, sweet readers than St. Patrick’s Day?

Now, let me just say this: I have no idea whether this is authentic or not. It tastes pretty damned authentic, but really, I know exactly nothing. Also, it is ridiculously easy to make (especially if you enjoy getting really messy and then cleaning up after your/my filthy self), so let’s quit the small talk and get to it!

Irish Soda Bread (makes a pretty large loaf that will still be difficult to emotionally and physically part with)

5 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 cup of butter, cubed and softened

2 1/2 cups of raisins (you can use dried cherries or cranberries if you so desire)

2 1/2 cups of buttermilk

1 large egg

Preheat your oven to 350º and generously butter a skillet with high sides or a dutch oven. In the largest bowl you own, blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add butter and blend together with fingers until the mixture looks crumbly and coarse, like this:


Whisk together the buttermilk and egg until blended, then stir buttermilk mixture into the rest of the ingredients. and mix just until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix.

Now, working very carefully, transfer your now-definitely-sticky dough into the skillet or dutch oven you’re using. This will be a pain and will result in you shedding a tear for all of the flour you just probably lost to your floor.


With a knife dipped in flour, trace a large X onto the top of the dough, then send this into the oven until the bread is cooked through, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about ten minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

And then….

SONY DSCThis. And…

Yes, those are Goldfish in the background. Don’t judge me.


I can’t stop eating this. Seriously, there are crumbs in between the keys on my keyboard right now, because I’m a disgusting human being. Hopefully that is enough to convince you that you should spend a couple of hours making this. You’re welcome.

Breads Classic Favorites Fancy Pantsy

Super Romantic-Romance Soft Pretzels. OK, I Dunno. I Mean, They’re Kind Of Heart-Shaped Right?

Please do not let me be the only nerd who finds this hilarious.

Yeah, well you all know how I feel about Valentine’s Day. I basically wait patiently for February 15th and then spend the next week and a half hoarding deeply-discounted heart-shaped chocolates and laughing at all of the suckers who paid full price. I’m Sad Shibow, and I’m cheap and wild. Hear me roar [about this nothing “holiday”].

Yes, yes, I am happily taken now, and indeed we did have a mini-celebration last year. Honestly, though, we do random mini-celebrations all the time, and that particular day just gave us an excuse to eat extremely unhealthy treats for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all of the hours in between these meals, since we were doing it all “out of luhrveeee.” But even when I was single I basically just ignored the whole day. Not in a “I’m a bitter old fool and you and your betrothed can go suck an unripe blood orange” kind of way, though. One year, it was more of a “I have the flu and very much feel like I am going to expire at any moment, and this feels like both the longest day and shortest year of my life, and also I currently have no concept of time.” That’s really the only V-Day I remember, and I can really only recall that one because my Dad had bought me a plush polar bear carrying a heart, which momentarily had me wondering if I was, in fact, about to croak. So, you know, it’s just a day.

That said, if you have people that you want to make lovey-dovey edible items for on this day, please do so. To be honest, I like the idea of these soft pretzels as an “I love you” treat because they’re subtly heart-shaped, if they’re shaped correctly. If you know me, you know that’s always a mission for me. Truly, there isn’t a stencil, cookie cutter, or one-on-one tutorial that could help me.

Oh, also, set aside a few hours for this. These babies take some real time to perfect.

Soft Pretzels (makes 8)

1 1/2 cups of warm water

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 stick of butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

4 1/2 to 5 cups of all-purpose flour

Canola oil, to grease bowl

3 quarts of water

2/3 cup of baking soda

1 egg, beaten

Coarse sea salt

Cinnamon sugar, optional

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar, yeast and melted butter. Let sit for 5 minutes, then add the salt and 4 1/2 cups of the flour. You can use a dough hook for this if you’re stand mixer has an attachment, but I was able to just get down n’ dirty with clean hands and knead this into a dough. However you do it, make sure to knead until the dough is smooth. If the dough appears too wet, add in a little more flour until you have what you need. Knead into a ball, and place into a large bowl that has been generously coated with canola oil. Cover bowl with a clean towel until the dough doubles in side, about 1 hour.


Bring your 3 quarts of water to a boil, and preheat your oven to 425ºF. Remove your now-ginormous dough from the bowl and separate into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope, then take one end and attach to the middle of the rope.


Do the same with the other end, and you should get a pretzel-y shape.

Now, slowly add baking soda to your water. Be very careful with this, as when added too quickly, the baking soda will foam, bubble over, and uglify your stovetop.

Um... yeah. Ugly.
Um… yeah. Ugly.

Oh, you could also burn yourself. So, again, cuidado. Slowly drop pretzels, two at a time, into the baking soda solution, for 30 seconds. Remove using a slotted spatula. Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet.



Brush the tops of each pretzel with beaten egg, and sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt. (You can also add any other powder-y toppings you’d like, such as powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.) Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops of the pretzels are golden brown. Let cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes.


Ok, before these were done I was. Meaning, the whole baking soda boil-over kind of really pissed me off, and I took it out on the pretzels by neglecting them for a few minutes after they cooled. Isn’t that sad? I took my anger out on an inanimate object that I had just spent hours making. I really only came around when I saw my boyfriend picking at one and making strange noises. Since I’d kept things simple and stuck with salt as the only topping, we decided to sit down with a couple, pile on the mustard, and make strange noises together. Wait. No. Wait. We just really liked them. Even I was impressed at how well and professional-tasting these ended up being. Yum.


My only real suggestion is to make these when you’re expecting guests. Specifically, exactly 8 guests. One is very filling, and these start to go stale after a couple of days, so it’s wise to either give a few away or find a friend with a bottomless pit for a stomach. Or, you know, just gorge yourself on these with the person you most like to make strange noises with.

Ugh. Sorry. Happy Whatevs Day!

Breads Classic Favorites Holiday desserts

Insecurities, Insanity, and Pumpkin Bread Galore!

Yikes. Yeah, it’s been a little while. It’s not that I haven’t baked, friends. It’s mostly that it’s been kind of an insane time in my life (I feel like if you typed “insane time in my life” into the Sad Shibow search bar, it would come up a lot. Like an embarrassing amount). I’m just starting to question a lot of things, which is kind of cliche for a woman in her mid-twenties, so forgive me. It’s just that I feel like I’ve faced a few situations which have made me feel not-so-great about myself. Allow me to explain. Well, first, allow me to seduce your eyes with the following photographs.



IMG_1378 IMG_1377



Ok, sorry, I know, I’ll stop. So, maybe it’s obvious (since I am a mess), but I did not make any of the above desserts. These were presented to a select set of food bloggers at a special holiday tasting given by…wait for it….Butter Lane!

Now, I’ve mentioned before that there is a special place for Butter Lane in my heart. It’s so special that Glen Hansard, my family and my boyfriend all live in the Butter Lane that lives inside my heart. Stamos lives far, far away from my heart. I feel I must make that clear. So yes, as you can probably guess, I was incredibly honored to have been invited. And everything that was offered was AMAZING and is now being sold at the bakery. New offerings include homemade mini “Pop Tarts,” chocolate mint cupcakes and vanilla cupcakes with eggnog frosting. Yes, I tried all of them (Um, it’s a tasting. WHAT UP.), and yes, they’re all ridiculous. Please go to there. Please try all of these things and more.

So, back to why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. I guess at that particular event, being surrounded by other bloggers, many of whom have been doing this whole thing for longer than I have, many of whom do it better than I do, made me freak out a little. Believe me, I know how lame and pessimistic I sound, and for that I apologize. I’m super happy that I was invited to join that event, I just don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. I’m just in the middle of a good deal of confusion over where I’m heading, over whether or not I’m doing the right things with my life, over what will make me happy in the long run, professionally. And I know it’s kind of a champagne problem, given that I have so many good things for which to be grateful. I’m just frustrated with myself for not knowing exactly what I should be doing with my life and kind of want to kick something. I also, as many of you know, become a grump around the holidays for various reasons… and kind of want to kick something.

I know, violence is bad, I will not kick something, or someone (‘cept Stamos), but I will remain slightly sad and a tiny bit panicky until this all someone works itself out. Any tips and pointers would be immensely appreciated.

Ok, well, we got our taste of sadness, so now it’s on to the baked good! Today, I have something very special: My boyfriend’s grandmother’s recipe for pumpkin bread! She graciously passed it along, and I jumped at the chance to bombard you all with more pumpkin. YAY!

Pumpkin Bread (makes two 9×5″ loaves)

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

3 cups of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

2 cups of pureed pumpkin

1 cup of canola oil

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2/3 cup of water

1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease and flour ONLY the bottoms of two 9×5 loaf pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together flour, sugar, baking soda and spices on medium speed for about a minute. Add in all ingredients except chocolate chips, and beat again on medium speed until batter is smooth. SONY DSC

Stir in chocolate chips and divide batter between pans. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted comes out with some crumbs sticking to it. And then, you will be left with this:


Oh, you want a better view? Your wish is my command.


As I inserted that last picture, I muttered “I miss that pumpkin bread.” That’s because I do. I need it back now. Seriously, this will become the only recipe I ever use again for pumpkin bread. It’s moist, pumpkin-y, comforting, and, believe it or not, not too sweet. It’s just perfect, and I can’t thank the creator enough for letting me use this recipe, nor can I take any credit for simply following it. This is a must.

Breads Cakes

Let’s Talk About Another Holiday I Hate While Making Another Treat That You’ll Love

I made this egg-in-a-hole thing for breakfast this morning. It was supposed to be a lovey-dovey looking heart. Instead it looks like the cardiac muscle.

Happy Tuesday! Yes, that’s what I am calling today. I really don’t really enjoy this holiday. In the sixth grade, one boy asked another boy to ask me to be his Valentine. Then, my supposed Valentine never spoke to me again. It was not cool.

Actually, let’s be fair. I have never enjoyed this holiday…until now. I like who I’m with. I like him more than I dislike this holiday. I like him more than I hate Stamos. That’s a lot! Also, I’ve chosen to look at today as “Grateful For All Of The Stuff I Love Day.” So, to continue, I heart Sylvapotamus and The Swell Season and my family and this blog and baking andandand…

Enough cheese for you yet? No? Ok then. Let’s make Lemon Cream Cheese Coconut Bread. That should do it!

Lemon Cream Cheese Coconut Bread (makes one mother of a loaf)

For the bread

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of softened butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup of milk

3 tablespoons of lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)

1 tablespoon of lemon zest (about the zest of one lemon…see how that all worked out?)

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

For the filling

3/4 cup sweetened toasted coconut flakes (Lay these out on a baking sheet and toast in a 350ºF oven for 10 minutes. Boom. Toasted.)

3 ounces of softened cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese

3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar

For the optional glaze that I could live without (and, in fact, did live without)

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons of milk

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease up a 8×4″ loaf pan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and eggs at medium speed. When it’s creamy, beat in the milk, lemon juice and zest. Then stir in your flour, baking powder and salt until combined. I’d recommend stirring in the dry ingredients by hand, especially if you’re trying to surprise the person you’re making this for and that person happens to live with you. Your kitchen might look like that scene from Scarface if you attempt to use the mixer. You get me?

Lovely, lemony batter

Now, let’s work on the filling. Make sure to set aside about two tablespoons of the coconut, which will (spoiler alert) appear later in the story. Mix the rest of the coconut with the cream cheese and sugar until fully combined.

Sweet Ron Burgundy, it took everything in me not to eat this filling while making it.

Now, pour half of your lemon batter into your loaf pan. Evenly spoon the cream cheese mixture onto it, then pour the remaining batter over to cover. Let this bake in your oven for 50 to 55 minutes, until the top is a deep, golden brown. Let this one cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove it and let it cool completely.

At this point, you can make the glaze if you want to. Since I was making this as part of a Happy Tuesday Ambush Breakfast, I thought the glaze would be overkill. I’d actually tried it and did not love it, so decided to simply sprinkle my reserved coconut atop the bread. Mother of Blog, I think I made the right move.

This thing is a MUST make again. We haven’t even come close to finishing it, and I’m already thinking of occasions on which I can make this again. Methinks a Happy Thursday is in order.