Ok, I am not a fan of cake, well, was not a fan of cake- not when there was pie, or (quick) bread to be eaten. In fact, my general lack of cake love is a life-long preference (or rather, lack of…) My birthday and even my wedding “cake” was, and have always been, chocolate éclairs (known around here as “I DeClares”) and not cake at all. Recently however I have had a personal global warming to cake, having discovered Bundt cakes. This change had little to do with the resulting cake though and every thing to do with the incredibly alluring and curvaceous Bundt pans available. For someone ambivalent about cake like myself, it is funny that I now own a large collection of Bundt pans in varying shapes and sizes – a teddy bear, Christmas and autumn wreaths, bunnies, turkeys, roses, etc. And, in order to enjoy the pans, I have been learning to bake cakes. All of this has led me to liking cakes, noticing cakes, reading about cakes, googling cakes, eating cake – in fact, just plain embracing cakes. And what have I learned by my newfound cake awareness? Here’s my mini-wiki on cakes –
- Forget the muffin, the hottest thing in baking, be it home or retail, is the cupcake. If you bake a muffin, for Pete’s sake, call it a cupcake to get people to look at it. Do a google search for “cupcake mania” if you don’t believe me.
- Somebody named “Bakerella” put little cakes on candy sticks and invented “Cake Pops”. She has even written the book on the subject. Cake Pops are “popping” up everywhere –Starbucks even has a version of them now in the pastry case.
- I bet there will be Bundt Pop Pans very soon! You watch.
- But until then, and, in honor of Bakerella, I made Irish Soda Pops. I took my favorite ISB (Irish Soda Bread) recipe and merged it with Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School recipe for something called “Spotted Puppies” (which are mini “Spotted Dogs” of course! Note: the only difference from the “Stripy Cat” recipe published online in the link is the chocolate. Obviously, small ones would be called “Stripy Kittens”…) and I put them on a stick.
- Even though Irish Soda Bread is quick bread and not cake, I am in Cake love.
And to think, I would have never known any of this before discovering Bundt pans…
Karen’s Irish Soda Pops recipe
makes one half sized loaf of soda bread and four Soda Pops
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup crannies (or craisins, which are dried cranberries)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut up
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 -2 teaspoons coriander seeds, optional
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Additionally, you will need four candy sticks or rosemary stalks minus the needles for the pops.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Mix in the butter with your hands until the texture is pebbly. Add in the dried fruit and coriander, if using. Stir in the buttermilk and when the dough comes together divide it in half and put the first half on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, shaped into a flat round and cut a cross in the top. Cut the remaining half into quarters and put the 4 smaller dough balls onto the same baking tray and cut a cross in each.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes and remove the pops, then return the small loaf to the oven and bake approximately for another 15 -20 minutes more ’til done. Insert the pop sticks into the small “pops” while they are cooling and stand them up in the small loaf for serving.