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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Artisan Sweet Cherry Bread

I grew up in a small town (pop. ~ 2,000).  One of my greatest pleasures as a child was waking up to the smell of bread baking from the local bakery less than a two minute run from our house.  I would quickly dress, get 50¢ from my Mom then out the door I would go anticipating the delicious flavour of fresh baked bread.  I'd arrive back at the house with the bread still warm.  This really was the best of artisan bread!

At one time, small Mom & Pop bakeries could be found in most villages, towns and even cities all featuring artisan breads.  Artisan breads are those crafted in small batches rather than massed produced.  Great attention is paid to the quality of ingredients.  Unlike massed produced 'stay fresh forever' breads, artisan breads do not contain HFCS, preservatives, artificial flavours or artificial colours.  As a result artisan breads do not keep as long so are best used within a day or two.  They are healthier for you!  Home-made breads made from scratch and baked in the oven or on the grill are considered artisan.  Breads made in a bread-machine are not because part of the results differ from handmade, oven baked.  Artisan breads are as much about the process as they are the ingredients and delicious end results.  Artisan breads are often referred to as speciality breads.

artisan sweet cherry bread
The small bakery of my childhood is no longer a bakery.  The very small, and I do mean small bakery in the village (pop. ~ 1,100) we lived in a few years back closed leaving the villagers quite disappointed.  The bakery in the town (pop. ~11,000) closed back in the 1980's leaving the town without a bakery.  About three years ago, a small bakery opened up down town featuring artisan breads.  I bake a lot of bread and always have, mostly artisan breads.

We have been fairly lucky at finding artisan bakeries during our travels.  One tourist village a few kilometres from where we enjoyed camping had a very tiny (about 8' square) bakery but the bread was baked in the most amazing outdoor oven I've ever seen.  That bread was incredible!  We haven't found an artisan bakery near our vacation home but there is an onsite small bakery at the Publix featuring fresh baked, artisan breads.  What has become increasing more common is small artisan bakeries selling their products through the big box stores.

We stopped at a Meijer's on the way home from our vacation.  They carry a small selection of artisan breads from a Michigan artisan bakery.  I thought the sweet cherry bread topped with icing would be a festive dish to take to the party we were attending the following day.  This was a delicate pink yeast bread dotted with maraschino cherries.  The icing was a simple thick icing sugar icing with just a hint of almond.  Almond extract is often used with cherries because it enhances the flavour of the cherries.  This would be rather easy to duplicate at home using a sweet yeast bread base (eg. the base used for cinnamon bread) then substitute maraschino cherries for the raisins and almond extract for the cinnamon, then adjusting to desired consistency.  I would add the cherries in just before finishing the first knead to prevent too much crushing.  Hmm, sounds like a bread experiment in development :)

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