Everyone claims to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day but I actually am an Irish descendent. My mother let everyone she knew of her heritage and she was quite proud. Char gave me this great cookbook awhile back and it was time to crack it open. We tried many of the dishes inside and a few others to make up our early St. Patrick’s Day party.
The menu was Guinness Beef Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots, Brown Soda Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Molasses Bread, Traditional Colcannon, Colcannon with Kale, Buttered Kale with chives & lemon, Buttered Vegetables, Apple Cake, Chocolate Stout Cake, Homemade Irish Cream, Irish Coffee, Smithwick beer, Jameson’s whiskey, Kerry butter and Irish cheese.
Since time was of the essence most items were made in advance before the cooking club members gathered. The group project was a soda bread throw down. Before we started working we had to loosen up and make Irish Cream. Remember when I made it last Christmas? Same recipe. It was a treat to see everyone marvel at how much whiskey and cream went into it!
Now that we were relaxed, we dove into the soda bread. Traditional soda bread has four ingredients. That’s it. The other had nine.
Irish Soda Bread from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook Parragon Books 2012
- 1 lb (450 g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 400 ml (14 oz) buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place parchment paper atop or prepare an oiled baking sheet.
Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk . Mix well with hands. The dough should be soft but not too wet. Reserve then add, if necessary the remaining buttermilk.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into an 8 inch (20 cm) round. Place the loaf atop the making tray. With a serrated knife cut a cross into the top. Bake for 25-30 mintes under golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Brown on the left, Traditional on the right.
Brown Soda Bread from Cook’s Country February/March 2013
- 2 C flour
- 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 C toasted wheat germ
- 3 TBSP sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 3/4 C buttermilk
- 3 TBSP melted butter
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until cohesive mass forms, about 8 turns. Pat dough into 7-inch round and transfer to prepared sheet. Using sharp serrated knife, make ¼-inch-deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean and loaf registers 195 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
Remove bread from oven. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Transfer loaf to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour.
Traditional on the left, Brown on the right
1. General consensus of the party guests were that both breads were good, just different. The brown bread was very hearty. The traditional was lighter. Both were great slathered in butter! I favored the traditional myself.
2. The day before, a couple of members were at another potluck and tasted other soda bread versions. Some with currents or raisins and some with caraway. Soda bread is how your family made it special and traditional for you.
3. I used bread flour. I think it helps the texture of any bread you make at home.
4. I had never made soda bread before this challenge. Hard to believe? It could have been because my mother’s father was Irish and the traditional foods didn’t get passed down through him. She loved Bailey’s Irish Cream though 🙂
5. This was an European cookbook, so many of the ingredients are in metric. It is always good to have a scale for dry ingredients. I’m a nurse so the liquids are easy for me to convert.
How joyful that spring is nearly here. On St Patrick’s Day we Think Green. But as my mother used to say Think Irish!