Irish Soda Bread Enjoy with some Irish tea and British Isles inspired toppings recipes available at cancerperspectives.org
Irish eyes were smiling in the cooking studio on March 15th. Just two daysbefore St. Patrick’s Day and the cooking studio was overflowing with Irish SodaBreads in a challenge to rival Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football games. Wellmaybe not that intense, but we did pit Joe’s mother’s recipe against John’sgreat-grandma’s recipe against Marilyn’s rendition of Ina Garten’s recipeagainst Greg’s from The Joy of Cooking. In all there were 17 submissions andin the cooking studio they were all winners. Of course there was an officialwinner because everyone did vote but you’ll have to stay tuned for that!Trying to find the “authentic” recipe for Irish Soda Bread turned out to be acultural exploration similar to finding the “authentic” corned beef andcabbage dinner served in Ireland. Turns out what we know in America to be atraditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration isn’t so traditional in Ireland either.According to history.com the Irish have observed the Roman Catholic feast ofSt. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, since the 9th or 10th century. But thefirst parade actually took place on March 17, 1762 in New York City. Theparade held today in NYC is the largest civilian parade held in the UnitedStates. And you will not find corned beef in Ireland on the feast of St Patrick.They would serve a pink Irish bacon or a roasted chicken. To find corned beefand boiled cabbage, you need to be in America!
So goes the allusion of authentic Irish soda bread.Traditional soda bread in Ireland has 4 ingredients:flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. Period. Sodabread didn’t even become possible until the 1840’swhen bicarbonate of soda became readily available.When raisins are added, it’s called a Spotted Dog orRailway Cake. And if your bread containseggs, shortening and sugar it’s a “cake” not bread. Thetraditional X or cross made in the top of soda breadhelps the bread to expand but it also helps to keep theDevil out or let the fairies in depending on what youbelieve! Some quick tips for a successful soda bread:whisk dry ingredients together so they are wellmixed, soak the raisins and then drain beforeadding, and don’t over knead the dough. While all ofour entries were Americanized versions of Irish SodaBread they were all great.
Of course, the cooking studio’s version also had to meet the healthy test aswell. So I picked a recipe from Cooking Light which used non-fat buttermilkand no other fat. I also made a substitute to include some whole wheat flourin place of one of the cups of all purpose flour. The recipe is low insugar, only a quarter of a cup, relying on a whole cup of raisins to provide theadditional sweetness. I made a test version at home and, of course, I left thefat free buttermilk that I purchased in the cooking studio refrigerator. So Iended up substituting the purchased buttermilk with ”homemade”buttermilk. The recipe for the substitution is to place 1 Tbsp white vinegar orlemon juice in a measuring cup and add fresh milk to the 1 cup mark. Let itsit for 10 minutes. However, the substitution was not as thick as the storepurchased buttermilk which made for a very sticky, wet dough. I did have toadd quite a bit more flour to be able to knead it. In the end, it went into theprepared pan more wet than the version I made in the cooking studio. Bothwere delicious though. The other obstacle I encountered at home was thatmy baking powder had expired, so I was concerned that my bread wouldn’trise. The test for whether or not your baking powder is still active is to placea teaspoon of powder in a warm glass of water. If it fizzes, it is still active.Test baking soda the same way but you have to add a teaspoon of vinegar tothe cup of warm water. Good tips to save valuable pantry staples!
The chosen winner in the JTCC Irish Soda Breadcontest was John Napoli’s (Physicist in the RadiationOncology department) submission of GreatGrandma Henrehan’s Irish Soda Bread. The staff inRadiation Oncology has had the pleasure of John’ssoda bread for years. The recipe has beengenerously shared and loaves show upspontaneously throughout the year. But, like thelore of the authentic Irish soda bread recipe passedon for generations, Great Grandma Henrehan’srecipe does not belong to John. The recipe wasgiven to John’s wife years ago when she worked atDuke. It found a happy home here in New Jerseyand has been included for all to enjoy. Thanks to allwho baked from JTCC and from the hospital at large.As the saying goes, we’re all Irish on St. Patrick’sDay!
GREAT GRANDMA HENREHANS IRISH SODA BREAD Preheat oven to 350oGrease a skillet with either butter or margarine. I usually use my cast iron skillet(10”?) but have also used a big stainless steel skillet with a stainless handle(sometimes called a chicken fryer) [as long as nothing on the pan can melt].1 c raisins (I place the raisins in a bowl and sprinkle about a teaspoon or so ofwater and toss them, put a plate on top and microwave for 1 minute to plumpthem. Let them sit while you do everything else. Drain just before adding to themix.)1 stick melted unsalted butter4 c all purpose flour1 c sugar1 tsp baking soda2 tsp baking powder1 tsp salt2 tsp caraway seeds (recipe calls for 1, I use 2)
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowlAdd:2 eggs lightly beaten1 ½ c buttermilk (I put the 1 ½ c buttermilk in a 2c glass measuring cup, addthe eggs to it, and beat the eggs in the measuring cup then I add the meltedbutter and mix again)RaisinsMix with a spatula and dust the dough and the sides of the bowl, then kneadfor a few minutes. I usually end up adding about ¼ cup more of flour at thispoint since its sticky; dust your hands too. Loosen it from the bowl with arubber spatula, flip the bowl so the dough drops into your hand, and dropinto the greased skillet. Cut a slash or 2 across the top.Bake 1 hour; check with a knife to make sure its cooked through and removeto a cooling rack (do not leave in the cast iron skillet). Since it’s so hot I dropit into my other hand in which I am holding a kitchen towel, then flip it ontothe cooling rack.It should not need more than an hour.
Helen Doyles Irish Soda BreadYield: 12 servingsRecipe from Cooking LightIngredients3 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups white flour and 1 whole wheat)1 cup raisins1/4 cup sugar1 tablespoon caraway seeds2 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 1/2 cups nonfat buttermilkVegetable cooking sprayNutritional InformationAmount per serving: Calories: 171; Fat: 0.6g; Protein: 4.6g; Carbohydrate: 37.6g;Fiber: 1.5g
PreparationCombine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Add buttermilk in batchesand stir until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, andknead lightly 3 to 4 times. Pat dough into an 8-inch round cake pan coated withcooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted incenter comes out clean and bread is golden. Let cool in pan 5 minutes; loosenedges of bread with a knife. Remove from pan; let cool on a wire rack. Cut intowedges.
Strawberry Rhubarb Compotefrom www.the-baker-chick.comIngredients2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced (can use frozen)2 cups fresh rhubarb- diced into small pieces (can use frozen)1 tablespoon lemon juice1/3 cup sugar2 tablespoons corn starchInstructionsCombine rhubarb, strawberries and lemon juice in 2-quart saucepan.Cover; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is tender (8 to 12minutes). (Test a piece of rhubarb to make sure its soft.)Combine 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in small bowl.Stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comesto a boil (about 1 minute). Continue boiling until thickened (1 minute).Once the mixture has cooled, place it in the bowl of a food processor and pulseuntil the big pieces are broken down, but dont totally pureé it.Use immediately or keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.