Fruit and Nut Muesli Bread

Lent inspires most of us to not only pause and reflect on our spiritual life but also time to choose a simpler and healthier lifestyle – away from the sugars and fats that infiltrate our daily life. Our Convent has been scaling back this lent and doing just this. It has made us more grateful for what we have and savor the more special moments.
One of our Sisters, who spent some time in Germany, is a big fan of homemade Muesli. I got inspired to take this idea into a bread. Since one of our most visited recipes is a gluten free oat bread,  I thought readers might enjoy this hearty and beautiful muesli bread which is also gluten free! Packed with fiber, dried fruits and nuts, it’s so hearty that one slice will easily take care of your morning hunger pangs. If you are on a low fat, low sugar diet, this is the recipe for you.  Blessed Lent!

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Fruit and Nut Muesli Bread
SERVINGS
1loaf (12 slices)
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaf (12 slices)
COOK TIME
1hr
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
2 hrs30 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 7-by-3-inch loaf pan with pam and dust with almond flour or lined with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the almond butter and agave nectar with a handheld mixer until smooth, then blend in the eggs. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt, baking soda, and flax meal. Blend the almond flour mixture into the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Fold in the apricots, cranberries, pistachios, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven, until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour, then serve.

Swedish Pepparkakor

This is a guest blog from one of our Swedish Sisters

This year, it was possible to make these Swedish pepparkakor cookies a little earlier than usual. It makes me happy, and helps me remember for a moment where I came​ from, and that God is in charge of all the little things in our lives. It is my great-grandmother’s recipe from Tidaholm, Sweden. I don’t know why it is that cookies have become a tradition around the season of Christmas in particular, except for the fact of celebrating the most important birthday of all!! But these little cookies, for me, have always been a part of that celebration, with their trinity of spices that scent the kitchen when baked . . cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Not to mention, the smiles that come to people’s faces every single time!

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Swedish Pepparkakor
SERVINGS
12dozen
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen
COOK TIME
5mins per pan
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix in order given and roll out very thin. You will need more flour as you roll them. Use a pastry cloth and a covered rolling pin.
  2. Cut​ into shapes, sprinkle with toppings if desired,​ and bake at 350 degrees for 4 min (time varies with thickness of dough). Makes up to 12 doz. cookies.

​Wishing you a blessed New Year from our home to yours!
The Gourmet Nuns​

Upside Down Pear ​Ginger ​Cake

I’ve heard it said that the sense of smell is the earliest and strongest to develop in humans. I remember once at a restaurant there was a special on oysters that came from the town where I grew up. I splurged and ordered them just for fun. When they arrived and the fresh, salty smell wafted up to me, tears came to my eyes along with so many wonderful memories of my childhood there on the water.

I think it’s the same for many of us at Christmas. There are certain scents that transport you directly into this season of celebration and joy. Take ginger for instance! I love baking days here at the Community — as you cross the common, in addition to the beautiful lights and wreaths and garland, the smells drifting from the kitchen put smiles on everyone’s faces. It actually seems like another way to spread the good news: Christmas is coming! Jesus is on his way, and we’re getting ready — with Ginger Cake!

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Upside Down Pear ​Ginger ​Cake
SERVINGS
8 - 10people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
60minutes
PREP TIME
25minutes
READY IN
1hour, 25 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Start with your ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9" springform pan​ or ​a cake pan that's at least 2½ inches deep.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar; mix well and pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Tilt the pan a little from side to side to help the mixture spread all the way to the edge.
  3. Arrange the sliced pears side-by-side over this brown sugar mixture, making sure that they cover the entire bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk until airy and fully combined. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, beat the the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs and beat again until pale and airy.
  7. Incorporate the apple sauce and molasses, mix until well combined, and then add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just incorporated, no more.
  8. Pour over the pears and spread all the way to the edge.
  9. Place a piece of aluminium foil under or around your pan to catch any eventual leakage and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes or until it's cool enough to be handled safely then flip it onto a rimmed cake plate.
  11. Serve warm, garnished with vanilla ice cream, chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey or caramel sauce, if desired.

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Hummingbird Cake

I was recently introduced to this classic southern cake through one of my friends from the Deep South. I was intrigued by the name as my mom keeps a dish of grape jelly on her porch to attract hummingbirds and has regular visitors. The Hummingbird Cake is a very unusual one; it’s made with oil rather than butter, and contains more fruit than flour. The mix doesn’t need beating, is wonderful with a cream cheese frosting, and is flavored with interesting spices and pecans. Contrary to the name, there are no birds in this particular recipe! The giveaway to the Hummingbird Cake’s birthplace, however, is in the key ingredients – bananas and pineapple. It’s thought to have been invented in Jamaica, probably in the late ‘60s, and introduced to society through Southern Living magazine by a Mrs. L.H. Wiggin in 1978.

Since it’s a dessert made for ladies, we thought it would be a crowd pleasing addition to our weekly Harborside Teas. We always offer two choices of dessert, and it was fun to have a whole new recipe and an unusual one at that. It was so popular that we thought it warranted giving away the recipe. A thin slice will do you – this cake is rich!  And oh, so good…

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Hummingbird Cake
SERVINGS
12people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
25 minutes
PREP TIME
15 minutes
READY IN
1 1/2 hrs (with cooling time)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the eggs, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple, mashed bananas, and finely chopped pecans in another large bowl.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Evenly divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Turn cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the cream cheese with an electric mixer.
  2. Add in butter and cream together with cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  3. Add confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  4. Add in vanilla and cream until well-blended, light and fluffy.

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Raspberry Peach Upside-down Cake

Every year after school is out, our young community teenage girls have a 3-week “summer camp” with several of our Sisters. This year they went to New Hampshire for the event.
They were very excited and eagerly looking forward to the many activities ahead of them: lots of time out of doors, hiking, swimming, boating and gardening. I knew that nature crafts would be a part of their learning experiences, and also that there would be indoor activities such as housekeeping and of course, some cooking. I made them promise me that they would surprise me by making something new and different from any of their old standbys. They did not let me down, but kept their promise and came up with this scrumptious, raspberry peach upside down cake, inspired by a raspberry picking event that none of us knew would be happening before they went to camp. I could not have been more pleased!
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Raspberry Peach Upside-down Cake
SERVINGS
10-12people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
50-55minutes
PREP TIME
30 minutes
READY IN
80-85 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice peaches. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  3. Place 6 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until melted then add brown sugar and cook until both are combined and melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  4. Arrange peach slices in a circular pattern (overlapping if needed) in skillet on top of sugar. Add raspberries in areas not covered with peaches. Set aside.
  5. Cream together vanilla, 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy. Add eggs and beat until the yellow disappears. Add sour cream and blend.
  6. On low speed, add flour mixture and beat just until combined stopping to scrape the sides a few times. Pour batter onto peaches and smooth out to the edges.
  7. Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  8. Run a knife around the edges to release and invert onto a cake plate allowing the cake to cool another 10 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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Convent English Muffin Bread

I have always found bread baking to be an intensely spiritual and creative act. You mix, you knead, you wait. It is prayer.

In our Convent during Lent, we always make an effort to serve a traditional Lenten meal, most often with candlelight and readings. A simple sampling of hard boiled eggs, cheese, some dried fruits, and nuts, is always accompanied by a smorgasbord of beautiful homemade breads. Tonight is no exception. With 65 Sisters in our Convent, we start early with our bread baking and continue through the day.

I am partial to this recipe, one that my grandmother passed on to me, and I am blessed to pass it on to you. It is wonderful sliced and toasted with a big smear of butter and jam. Don’t be daunted by making bread—there is really no fear to be had here! Bake and break bread with your family this Lent and see what God can do.

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Convent English Muffin Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
25minutes
PREP TIME
15​minutes
READY IN
2hours or less

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease two 8” loaf pans with Crisco and sprinkle the cornmeal over the bottom of the pans. Set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Sprinkle your yeast over the very warm water, mix with a fork and leave for about 5 min. until bubbles form and your yeast is “active”. (If your yeast doesn’t do anything at this stage, throw it out and begin again!)
  4. Microwave your milk until it is very warm to the touch, but not so much that you can’t stick your finger in it, about 125 degrees
  5. Add your warm milk to your active yeast mixture in a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over. Mix with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add ​the​ flour, one cup at a time, stirring the dough as you go. After adding about 2 cups of flour, add your salt and baking soda, then add the remainder of your flour.
  7. The dough will look quite dry and stiff at this point, so remove the dough onto a counter and knead the rest of the flour into the dough until it is a smooth dough.
  8. Divide the dough in half, form two oblong loaves and press these into the prepared pans.
  9. Put the dough in a warm place to rise, covered with a tea towel, for about 45 min. The dough should be doubled in size.
  10. Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 min.
  11. Remove from the pans immediately onto a cooling rack and let cool.