Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish Week: Irish Soda Bread and Irish Coffee

Irish soda bread is an essential part of Irish cuisine. My grandmother, who was born and raised in Ireland, apparently has a great soda bread recipe, but I couldn't get my hands on it, so I used a Martha Stewart recipe instead.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, raisins, caraway seeds, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients to form a dough.

3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 4 minutes; add more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Form dough into a 9-inch round; place on prepared baking sheet. Brush loaf with remaining tablespoon butter. Using a sharp knife, score an X on top of loaf.

4. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on wire rack before serving.

If I didn't have to go to work, I would have eaten a couple slices of soda bread slathered in butter and drank Irish coffees for breakfast. I had never been a huge fan of Irish coffee, but then my little sister took me to The Buena Vista Cafe back in December. Their Irish coffee blew my mind. Here is the official Buena Vista Irish coffee recipe.

Hot coffee
2 sugar cubes
2 oz. Irish whiskey
Whipped cream

1. Fill glass with very hot water to pre-heat, then empty.

2. Pour hot coffee into hot glass until it is about three-quarters full. Drop in two cocktail sugar cubes.

3. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.

4. Add full jigger of Irish Whiskey for proper taste and body. 

5. Top with a collar of lightly whipped whipping cream by pouring gently over a spoon.

6. Enjoy it while piping hot. 

So, with my choices in coffee beans, coffee brewing method, and Irish whiskey, I definitely made the snobby version of an Irish coffee. Against my will, Portland has made me a coffee snob. When I shop for coffee these days, I know what region I want it to be from and I know I want it to be roasted locally. Gag. And as for the brewing method, the only way I have to brew coffee in my house is a French press. At this I do not gag because the French press makes the best coffee. Period. And it's no harder to make French press coffee than drip or whatever else. Lastly, the whiskey. I intended to buy Jameson's, but I happened to read an article today about the best Irish whiskeys. Since I obviously wasn't going to use all the whiskey for Irish coffee, I may as well buy something I will enjoy straight. Right? Right. So Redbreast Single Pot Still 12-year it was.

Instead of eating soda bread and drinking Irish coffee for breakfast, I ate and drank them for dinner. And man was it a good meal. Mmmmm. Long live the Irish.

Bon appetit.


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