Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blackberry & Mascarpone Swirled Graham Bread

I've been known to be a keeper of things.  Not necessarily a pack rat and not even close to the likes of the folks I've seen on those hoarding shows- yikes!  Maybe it's just that I'm not the world's tidiest person, nor do I really enjoy cleaning.  I'd so much rather be living my life than cleaning my house.  So things tend to accumulate.  And don't even get me started on my husband.  I still cringe at the memories of trying to convince him that we didn't need to make multiple moves around the country lugging duffel bags of chains and rolls of chicken wire with us just because "you never know when we might need it".  (Insert groan here)
But as I get older it's getting easier for me to give or throw stuff away.  I don't think it's because I'm less sentimental, I just realize that holding onto a t shirt from a concert that I enjoyed 20 years ago isn't actually going to remind me of the event.  A shirt in a drawer that I never wear or look at is pretty useless in that regard.  The memories are in my heart and mind.  And I don't need "stuff" to help keep them there.  So I've become a better purger in my 30's.  Clothes, books, knick knacks and just stuff in general get sorted through on a much more regular basis (note that I said more regular, not exactly regular, old habits do die hard). 
And then there's my pantry.  I am lucky enough to have a rather large, walk-in pantry.  The problem with a pantry like that?  It has a tendency to get filled up quickly and because there should be plenty of room for the things I need, I often think "Oh, I can buy that. I've got a big old pantry to stick it in.".  And then one day  I walked over to my pantry and I couldn't walk IN it anymore because I'd filled it up and then some.  That's the day I got fed up and spent hours on a major cleaning and organizing expedition through my pantry.  What I realized at the end of that day? 

1  I do NOT need to buy any more jars of honey.  I already have 5. 

2. Half-eaten bags of chips hide really well behind the newer fresher bags of chips.  I really need to insist we finish what we have before I buy more stuff.

3. I have a ton of partially used bags of specialty flours from projects past that really ought to be used before they go bad. 

4. Cleaning out a pantry sucks, but it does feel awfully good when you've finally trashed, eaten and merged your way through it all.
This cake is the result of that pantry clean out.  One of the bags of specialty flour I had hanging out in there was a bag a Graham flour left over from a misguided attempt at home made graham crackers.  Let's just say that that little experiment failed.  I had used up some of the flour on a pumpkin bread back in the fall, inspired by a post on not without salt, one of my most favorite food blogs (Ashley's writing and photography are incredible and I can get a little taste of Seattle though her posts as well).  I wasn't feeling the pumpkin this time around, but I did use her recipe as a springboard into something just as wonderful.  And seriously tasty.

Blackberry & Mascarpone Swirled Graham Bread
Makes 1 loaf.  Inspired by the Pumpkin Graham Bread on not without salt.
For the printable recipe, click here.

Graham flour is essentially whole wheat flour with a slightly different texture to it.  You should be able to find it in stores like Whole Foods or health food markets.  Can't find any?  Just use whole wheat flour or even white whole wheat instead.  This recipe seems like it would be complicated, but it really isn't.  There are no electric mixers involved or tricky steps, just three bowls and some spoons.  The graham bread is only lightly sweetened because the berries and sweetened cheese swirl have enough sweetness all on their own. 

For the bread:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup plain greek yogurt (or any other plain yogurt that has been strained)
2 tbs honey
1/2 cup neutral flavored oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup water

For the mascarpone swirl:
8 ounces room temperature mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the blackberry swirl:
6 ounces blackberries (fresh or frozen would be fine, thaw if frozen)
2 tbs sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Coat the inside of a loaf pan with butter or non stick spray. 

Place the flours, brown sugar, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Whisk lightly to combine.  Add the yogurt, honey, eggs, oil and water.  Stir until the ingredients just come together.

In a separate bowl, stir together the mascarpone, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

In a third bowl mash the berries with the sugar.  It's okay if you leave some pieces of berry unmashed, the texture is nice.

Pour half of the bread batter into the prepared pan.  Dollop spoonfuls of half the mascarpone mixture over the batter.  Do the same with half of the blackberry mixture.  Gently swirl the berries and mascarpone into the batter with a knife or wooden skewer.  Don't go crazy and mix them thoroughly, one or two passes through should suffice.  Pour the remaining bread batter over the top and repeat the process with the mascarpone and berry mixtures on the top.  Again, gently swirl with your knife or skewer.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean of batter (though depending on where it is placed, the toothpick may not be completely clean as the berries will still be wet).  Let the bread cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.  Then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.  The bread will keep on the counter for 2-3 days if well wrapped.

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