Sunday, March 11, 2018

My Official Comeback Tour & Irish Soda Bread

Long time, no see! I know that some of you have probably wondered why I seemed to drop off the face of the earth these last couple of months. I didn't intend to disappear for that long; things just worked out that way. Trust me when I tell you that I needed that time off. This past year has been a difficult one for me and my family. It actually began a couple of years ago when my mother suddenly passed away after a brief illness. Almost immediately, I packed up and sold our house while shopping for and purchasing a larger home so my brother could move in with us...all the while still grieving, working full time and continuing my almost daily blogging (which involves cooking, creating and writing up recipes, photographing, responding to emails, social media, etc.)...all things that I love, but are time consuming. Blogging, cooking and creating recipes are a passion and love of mine. As many of my regular followers know, last year my husband was injured when he fell down our basement stairs and required surgery. He was unable to work or drive for 2 months which left all household responsibilities to me. Things did not work out here for my brother, so he decided to move back home leaving us with this huge house to maintain for just the two of us. Please know that I'm not complaining about it, just trying to help you understand some of the reasons for my unexpected absence.

As if there wasn't enough to deal with already, another very difficult family situation arose this past year involving one of my grown children that I won't get into the specifics of because it is an extremely private and painful matter. Our family was tested by someone that did unthinkable and inexcusable things to one of my children; things that hurt our family very deeply. What this person did was dishonest, cruel and unforgivable and I will leave it at that. There is nothing someone could do to hurt me more than to hurt one of my children, regardless of how old they are. Fortunately, our family is strong and resilient and we continue to move forward from this nightmare. My goal now is to get back to the things that I love and that bring me cooking and blogging. I want to do this...and more importantly, I need to. So, this is step one of that process. If you wrote to me or tried contacting me these last couple of months, and I didn't respond, I am sorry. I've been taking baby steps and posting a bit on Facebook and Instagram...but my blog is where I share myself as well as my recipes with you. So, be on the lookout for me to begin showing up in your feeds again. Thank you for your patience and understanding while I took this necessary break. I have missed blogging and my interactions and communication with so many of you over these past almost 6 years now. Although we have never met, I feel like I really know so many of you and I'm excited and look forward to returning to my real world. I'm BAAAAACK!

On another note, I know Saint Patrick's Day is coming up and many of you in the past had requested I make a grain and gluten free version of Irish Soda Bread. I created a traditional version several years ago. There were several variations...traditional with raisins and then for those that don't like raisins, I created one with dried cranberries and/or blueberries instead. I also created smaller individual Irish Soda Bread Rolls. So, here you go, below is the recipe for my Irish Soda Berry Bread (just replace the berries with 1 ounce of raisins if you prefer).  The links to the other recipes are in the bolded links in this paragraph. Enjoy!


Irish Soda Bread Rolls

Irish Soda Berry Bread

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons Swerve Sweetener (or other granular sweetener)
2 tablespoons diced chilled butter
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
3 to 4 tablespoons dried cranberries or blueberries, finely chopped
2 teaspoons coconut flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an ovenproof skillet.

In a medium bowl, add almond flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, sweetener, and whisk until well combined. Using a pastry cutter/dough blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk in xanthum gum. 

In a small bowl, toss chopped berries with coconut flour until lightly dusted (this keeps them from sticking together); stir berries into dry mixture.

In a glass measuring cup, add buttermilk and egg and lightly beat. Make a well in center of dry mixture; pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula just until dough pulls together into a soft ball. Shape dough with hands lightly dampened with water into a rounded loaf and transfer to a lightly greased 10-inch cast iron or oven proof skillet, baking sheet or cake pan. Use a sharp serrated knife to score top of loaf with "X-shaped" 1/2-inch deep slashes. 

Bake until golden brown, about 32-35 minutes. If bread begins browning too quickly, lightly tent with a piece of aluminum foil. If additional browning is desired, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes longer. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes; carefully transfer bread to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve with butter or jam at room temperature, or lightly toast sliced bread in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes.

*Note: If adding raisins, finely chop a 1-ounce box of raisins. If preferred, do not add fruit and enjoy bread plain, or substitute chopped nuts of your choice.



Kath said...

I'm so glad you're back. I've missed seeing your inspiring creations. The Irish soda bread looks fantastic! :)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks Kath! 😀

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! I have made your Irish soda bread many times and we just love it!
On the menu for St Patrick's day :-)

Debbie Lou said...

It's so good to see you back. I don't comment often, but I sure missed you and your posts. So sorry it's been rough for you and your family, but the stronger will come out stronger. Thanks for sharing you passion with us.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thank you! So happy you’ve enjoyed it. 😀

kellkit said...

Dear Friend,
Life has a way of throwing us unsuspected curve balls! I started following you several years ago when I found your awesome chocolate cake recipe. I have been gluten free since. I have also lost 55 pounds and I thank you and your blog for getting me on a good path. I just turned 60 and I have never felt better!
My husband had a serious health issue last year, as well. Please know that things will get better. I am very glad to see that you are back!
Warmest regards,

Charlotte Moore said...

It is so nice to see a post from you. So sorry for all you have gone through. You are right, DO NOT mess with my kids. Mama bear can come out when you do. Same with my grands and great grands. HA!

I think you needed the break, but glad you are back.

This bread looks wonderful.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thank you Debbie.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much Kelley. Congratulations on your weight loss. That’s awesome! 😀

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks Charlotte! ❤️

Kristen said...

So happy to see you back, GG. Your recipes and ideas have been so helpful to me for the last three years of grain-free and sugar-free living. I hope being creative in the kitchen and doing what you love is the perfect tonic for all you have been going through. Welcome back!

GrannyMumantoog said...

Welcome back and thanks for sharing. I'm so sorry your family has endured so much. I know my family has gone through tough times in the past too and we rise and go on. Some things are still on the horizon that we have yet to have resolution for but we will. I keep reminding myself that what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. Good to have you in my email again! :) Stay strong.

Ken Carpenter said...

Elated that you are feeling like working again......It's a total process with what life pitches our way......I have personally enjoyed a lot of your recipes and constantly refer people to your blog and FB page.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much Kristen.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thank you GrannyMumantoog!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much Ken.

Linda R. said...

I'm so glad you are back, but so sorry to hear all you have gone through. I love your blog and recipes and pray your troubles/pain lessen as time goes on. Hang in there and thank you for all the great recipes and stories you share with all of us. ��

CECILIA said...

Blessings and prayers for all loved ones to be healed and back to peaceful existence.
You are a wonderful and caring lady. I've enjoyed your recipes and learning from your perspectives toward life and cooking, of course. Hugs and smiles of encouragement, Cecilia

unter der laterne said...

Hi Ayla, I was so worried about you ! It would have taken just one sentence to let us know that you were still alive and just needed a break !

Marie said...

I was worried about one of my favorite bloggers. I’m happy you are back and wish you the best! I enjoy making your recipes, looking at your photos and reading your commentary.

Kathy S said...

GGC - It was so wonderful to get your Irish Soda Bread post and update on you and your family. I am sad about what your family has been through. You and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers numerous times during your absence and will continue to be. I look forward to seeing more posts of great recipes from one of my favorite bloggers. Love and Hugs, Kathy S

CyberSis said...


It's GREAT to hear from you. I'm so sorry for all the pain and heartache that was thrust upon you and your family. I'm so very happy that you took the time out to heal and gain strength.

Every time I pull out one of your fabulous recipes I think of you. That means I thought about you a LOT while you were away! :-)

I'm really glad you're back and that you're looking forward to resuming the life you love! I'm not on "social media" so I'm especially happy that you'll be posting on your blog.

We love both the soda bread and the rolls. One cool trick is to substitute Zante currents instead of chopping up raisins. They taste just like raisins and are already teeny.

Take care, Ayla. Wishing all the best for you and your family.
We'll be seeing you! <3

grammylami said...

So happy to see you are back. I am so sorry you and your family have had to go through so much. I hope that everything will calm down now and it will be smooth saling for a long, long time to come. Looking forwad to your upcoming blogs, but be sure to take some time for you as well. Hugs to you!

SLB said...

So happy to see your post this morning! I've thought of you so often and wondered where you had gone but knew it had to be for good reason. Very sorry to hear about the family issues you have faced but glad you have your cooking, baking, blogging, and sharing to help you through the tough times! We all benefit from that! Look forward to trying this Irish Soda Bread and I continue to use your recipes over and over again! Welcome back!

Andrea at Opulent Cottage said...

So happy to see you back! Sending hugs, prayers and well wishes for health and recovery!

Lisa Gronewald said...

Is the xanthum gum what makes the batter more like dough? I made it without and it and it came out more like bread/cake batter. Hopefully it comes out okay.