May 17, 2011

Black Raspberry Bread

Banish the boring breakfasts with some black raspberry bread!  (I just had a flashback to The King's Speech...strange).  Anyway, here's a recipe that makes good use of frozen fruit, to tide us over until the fresh berries make their debut at the farmer's markets (soon, I hope).  Although the berries aren't fresh, the flavors are nice and bright.  Any kind of frozen fruit should work well here, as long as it is thawed and drained well.  I think black raspberries have such a distinctive and unique flavor...not quite a raspberry and not quite a blackberry.  I love the colors--not only are they beautiful, but those deep, full colors are a sure sign they are packed with oodles of nutrition and anti-oxidants.

This is a sturdy breakfast loaf, full of whole grain goodness and fiber.  It's nice to have an alternative to oatmeal, I think.  I love my oatmeal, but a little variety is great too, and this is a chewy, wholesome option to mix things up a little bit.

You can skip the glaze (like the loaves above) but I think it adds a destinctive zing and splash of color that would be missed.  The pomegranate molasses and berry juices are gently boiled down to create the concentrated berry drizzle which really finishes the loaves off, and adds another layer of flavor which is simply delicious, so delicious that only three mini loaves made it in to hub's work instead of four.  I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even have help!  Somebody's got to do the Quality Control after all.

I came up with a variation of the recipe above as the peaches in the freezer looked lonely, and the flavors of peach and black raspberry seem just made for one other.  I took out the oatmeal and added an equal amount of whole wheat pastry flour, substituted ground ginger for the other spices, and upped the almond extract to 1/2 teaspoon.  Otherwise, it is the same recipe.

Instead of mini loaves, I used my large tart pan with a removable bottom.

I mashed some berries with just a small amount of ricotta, an egg, and a couple tablespoons of sugar, placed the fruit on top of that...

...and turned this into a coffee cake of sorts, still packed with better-for-you-deliciousness, but with a softer, more delicate texture than the breakfast loaves.  I got a little carried away when filling the pan (could've probably skipped the ricotta), and nearly had another oven disaster, but luckily escaped with minimal overflowage.  I think I may start saying that with a French accent..o-ve-flo-aj...sounds more like a French cooking technique and less like a screw up that way, no?

Anyway, a mascarpone cream drizzle would pair nicely with these flavors too, but I opted for a simple dusting of powdered sugar.  This recipe reminded me a little bit of the tarts in Europe--not too sweet, packed with fruity goodness, and very satisfying.  I can't wait to try this recipe out with some of the fresh berries in season from the market.

This version is more dessert than breakfast, but could easily do double-duty, and it certainly wouldn't be the first time any of us ever ate cake for breakfast, right?  This is my idea of a yummy breakfast--fruit, whole grain and heart-healthy fat, disguised as a treat.  Both recipes will bedazzle you by the bounty of beautiful berries... how is it I'm thinking about Colin Firth, AGAIN, while pondering something sweet to chew on?  I better get back to the kitchen.

Black Raspberry Breakfast Loaves

8 ounces frozen black raspberries, thawed (or any other fruit of choice), reserve juice
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup bread flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup turbinado/natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 large eggs
1/3 cup low fat plain yogurt
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup almond oil
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease four mini loaf pans, two traditional loaf pans or comparable size pan.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  Stir in the sugar and oats.  In a smaller bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, yogurt, almond oil and extract.  Add the egg mixture and 1/2 cup sliced almonds to the flour mixture and mix until only just moistened.  Spoon batter half way up greased pans, then spoon over a couple tablespoons of berries, equally distributing them over the top of the batter, but not too close to the edge of the pan.  Top with more batter, then spoon over more berries.  Sprinkle the top with a few tablespoons of sliced almonds.  Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes for mini loaves (depending on the size of the pan).  Loaves are done when a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean.  
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan, then gently remove the loaves and let cool completely on a cooling rack.  Drizzle with the berry glaze once cooled.  

Reserved black raspberry juices (about 1/8 to 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon rose flower water
1/8 cup sugar (to taste)

Gently simmer all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat and boil for one minute to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer on very low heat while the loaves are baking.  You don't want the glaze to thicken too much.

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