baking soda, Baking with Julia, beef brisket, boiled cabbage, boiled potatoes, corned beef, Dorie Greenspan, fennel seed, Ireland, Irish Soda Bread, Irish Tradition, leavener, potatoe famine, soda bread, tradition, Tuesdays with Dorie
It’s Tuesday with Dorie again, and this week we have made Irish Soda bread! In a couple of weeks, we will all be going to Ireland and Scotland for a week with some friends for a little mini vacation and so I have been looking into Irish Soda bread recipes quite a bit with the intention of making some so this came at just the right time for me.
The recipe in the book calls just for white unbleached bread flour while all the Irish recipes that I have found call for either all whole wheat flour or a combination of the two so I decided to go 50-50. It made just the perfect color in the overall loaf and I was very happy with the texture as well, and it was just so darned easy to make!
Since this assignment landed in the middle of our largest family visit in Idaho, my mother-in-law agreed to let me make a full traditional Irish meal to go with the bread and serve it on St. Patrick’s day. But we would be having as many family members that wanted to come over to eat, so we had to make quite a bit of everything to prepare for the flood of family that comes in a steady stream all day long. Awhile back, I had brined my own corned beef and it turned out really good (although with the wrong cut of meat) and due to the sheer number of people we would be expecting for this meal, my mother-in-law bought a ten pound beef brisket to cure. I was very excited to see how the cure would work out with the proper cut of meat and to toast the spices again since the last time, I smoked out our kitchen by toasting some of the spices ground and the rest whole. So this time I only toasted the spices that we had that were whole and left the ground ones to be separated and added to the brine water and the final boiling water… it turns out that boiling the ground spices smokes out the kitchen more intensely, causing anyone who lifts the lid to check on the beef to cough pretty deeply, so I would suggest going out and getting whole allspice (usually the most potent culprit) and any of the other necessary spices before using them in the brine.
We bought three heads of cabbage to boil, adding a tablespoon of fennel seeds to the water they boiled in and about five pounds of boiled baby red potatoes for our meal. With a side of salad, a stick of butter for the very warm bread that came out of the oven just an hour before everyone arrived, the meal was incredibly filling and there was plenty for everyone that made their way to our house for an early dinner.
The bread dough itself came together very quickly, and buttermilk is fairly difficult to find around my mother-in-law’s house, so we managed to get enough to make two recipes worth and used whole milk to triple the recipe. The loaves looked crumbly, rustic and smelled amazing! Everyone was quite pleased with the texture and taste of the fresh-baked loaves, as well as with the rest of the meal as it was a first for almost everyone. The only thing that could have made it more complete was a pint of Guinness with a large, bubbly, white head on it but we made do with some local brew and sodas for the pregnant, children and others that weren’t interested in alcohol.
These loaves also keep very well, although most of the leftovers (of which there was very little) disappeared bit by bit as our guests left …. I think I will be leaving the recipe when I leave. Our meal led to some interesting discussions with the younger children that were still in school about the potato famine, Angela’s Ashes, and haggis…
In addition to our meal, we were celebrating two birthdays, a rather belated one for Mei and a couple of weeks early for her cousin Mackenzie so we made mini chocolate and green-dyed white cupcakes with a variety of green and Easter jimmies to add a sweet note to the end of a rather successful meal!
If you would like to bake along with us, pick up a copy of “Baking with Julia” by Dorie Greenspan and you can enjoy all these delicious treats with us too! If you would like the recipe, head over to Cathy’s page on My Culinary Mission or Carla’s page on Chocolate Moosey!