Thursday is Saint Patrick's Day. That means corned beef and cabbage, green beer (maybe)
and Irish Soda Bread.
For years, wherever I was working I would start to make my usual Irish Soda Bread a week before Saint Patrick's Day. It was always popular and a great way to tease the holiday.
It's a perfectly good Irish American soda bread recipe. In fact it is delicious. I hear your question, gentle reader, the soda bread we make here in the states is often sweeter then the soda bread made in Ireland.
Recently one of my colleagues at Sur La Table, Louise, gave me her soda bread recipe. In fact, she gave me a packet of her recipes. I was thrilled.
Louise is a natural and talented baker and she held pastry chef and baking positions in several Los Angeles tea rooms and bakeries.
For ten years she was the pastry chef at Chado Tea Room. Now she works with us at Sur La Table and helps prep out recipes before class . She doesn't mind when I pepper her with questions. She is my link to a Los Angeles I wasn't here to bake or cook in. We are always so happy when she is with us in the kitchen at SLT, Farmer's Market.
Now, here is where we come to the little did they know part....Louise, now retired and living quietly, had been in the past, a frequent contributor to many magazines and newspapers. Her recipes were everywhere.
Now back then in order for your recipe to printed and for you to be sought out to write recipes for Sunset Magazine and the Los Angeles Times you had to know what you were doing.
Magazines and newspapers had test kitchens staffed with expert bakers and cooks. Recipes were tested an average of three times before they went in to print.
This is a huge contrast to today where very little testing is done. And recipes are vetted by reviews more then anything else.
For this blog post we are returning to an earlier time - when you could cut a recipe out of a magazine and confidently make whatever it was without wasting time trolling through reviews.
When I was a young cook, Thursday was food section day. That was always exciting.
I was clipping recipes out of the Chicago Tribune food pages at 12. The pink notebook that I glued my recipes into is still on the bookshelf.
The only time a recipe from a magazine or newspaper didn't work was when I screwed it up.
And yes, I remember every time I did.
In honor of Louise and Saint Patrick's Day, I encourage you to make this delicious Irish Soda Bread recipe.
I modernized it just a bit - the ingredients are by weight and yes, bakers percents.
Let me know what you are baking for Saint Patrick's Day, I would love to hear from you.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day.
Stay safe and of course,
Irish Soda Bread:
Louise's original recipe was published by Sunset magazine in March of 1992.
Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl
Spatula or wooden spoon
10" oven proof skillet, fry pan - cast iron, greased
or a 10" cake pan, grease and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
bowl for soaking raisins
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) (170g) currants, dark or golden raisins
1 tea bag (black tea, preferably Irish breakfast)
Boiling water to cover raisins
3 cups (13.5 ounces) (383g) Unbleached all purpose flour (I used King Arthur) (100%)
1/2 cup sugar (3.5 ounces) (99g) Granulated sugar (26%)
1 Tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Eggs (3.4 ounces) (96g) (27%)
1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) (340g) Buttermilk (96%) ***if you don't have buttermilk combine 11 1/2 ounces milk with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons Melted butter (1.5 ounces) (43g) (11%)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Oven: 350 degrees
1. Cover currants or raisins with boiling water, add teabag to bowl and submerge.
Let sit for 5 minutes and then strain out the tea. Blot raisins dry with a paper towel.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Place in mixer bowl or large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.
4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until evenly moistened.
By hand this will take about 20 strokes.
If using the mixer, mix on low speed about 1 1/2 minutes.
The mixture will look quite wet - that's ok.
5. Place in prepared pan. Smooth surface with bowl scraper. Brush with extra buttermilk
and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
7. Bake at 350 degrees.
8. Start checking in 45 minutes. Irish soda bread is done when a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Leftover Irish soda bread will keep a day or two, well wrapped, at room temperature or frozen up to one month.