Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Touch of the Blarney

For the past couple of years my friends have been having a cooking competition.  This year, since I have nothing better to do, I'm going - and, as a judge.  The theme of this year's smackdown was - meatballs!  I didn't want to show up empty-handed so I figured I'd make something "Irish" to bring.  This is when I realized how I am SO not Irish.  I don't think I've ever eaten an authentic Irish meal.  (This is a lie.  I did in Killarney.  Some stew of sorts, but thats neither here, nor there...)  Since baking is my thing,  Irish Soda Bread sounded like the most logical choice.

The crust of the traditional loaf

I think I've tried it once in my life - and I wasn't a fan.  I really am not even sure what it is.  Cue research.  An authentic, traditional soda bread has only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk.  It should have a tender crumb with a rough-textured, crunchy crust.  Of course, it has been Americanized.  How?  By adding sugar, butter, and inclusions!  (Caraway seeds and raisins.)  Let's make it sweeter and fattier Céad míle fáilte to America.
The Americanized version.

I decided to make a variation of each.  The traditional version was way to bland for me, plus, I am not really a fan of buttermilk as a featured flavor.  The crumb and crust, however, were spot on.  The Americanized version appealed to my palate a lot more.  It still had a delicate crumb and crunchy crust but, with some sweetness and a decent bit of butter, had a lovely anise scent and flavor from the caraway seeds.

Caraway Seeds & Raisins.

Would I make it again?  Eh, maybe next St. Patty's Day...

Erin go bragh!

P.S.  Congrats to Lindsay for making the most least-offensive meatball!!

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