Tag Archives: Irish Bread

Waffles for supper

Meatless M0nday – unless if when you hear waffles, chicken isn’t far behind.

Chicken and waffles is not meatless, but a great supper any day of the week

Chicken and waffles is not meatless, but a great supper any day of the week

In keeping with my resolution to reduce food waste, I had to come up with a way to use the buttermilk left over from the Irish bread baking of last week.

I once tried to cross reference my various recipes for just this sort of occasion…it was a hopeless muddle. I just wanted to group all the 1 cup of buttermilk recipes, all the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste recipes, all the…you get the picture.

But because I was reading Marion Cunningham, she neatly solved this buttermilk conundrum for me.

A waffle iron was one of the best small appliances I ever indulged myself in. I’ve actually worn out several. I don’t buy the high-end semi-industrial machine.

This waffle iron is a beaut - but at 200 bucks...I won't eat 200 dollars worth of waffles in my lifetime!

This waffle iron is a beaut – but at 200 bucks…I won’t eat 200 dollars worth of waffles in my lifetime!

I wait for a sale at Benny’s or Target, and get a perfectly respectable machine for under $30. It  has always served well for years. Now that I make waffles less often (read: New Years Day and maybe once or twice in the year, as opposed to maybe 25 or 30 times a year) my current waffle iron should last for decades.

Waffles also have an historic element – you knew I’d be working the food history angle in here eventually –

Waffles as good time food c. early 17th century:

This is a detail from a Pieter Bruegel painting about Carnevale. Notice the waffles as headgear!

This is a detail from a Pieter Bruegel painting about Carnevale. Notice the waffles as gambling booty and  headgear!

This is a 17th century waffle iron from France - It had to be heated over the fire. It's hard to tell from this photo, this might be a wafer iron, which are waffles super thin, extra rich cousins

This is a 17th century waffle iron from France – It had to be heated over the fire. It’s hard to tell from this photo, this might be a wafer iron, which are waffles super thin, extra rich cousins.

 

CORNMEAL WAFFLES

1 cup cornmeal

1 ¾ cups AP flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, separated

2 ½ cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons of butter, melted

3 tablespoons of sugar

  1. Start heating the waffle iron.
  2. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks. Add the buttermilk and butter to the egg yolks, blending well.
  4. Combine the liquid mixture with the flour mixture, mixing well.
  5. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff, slowly adding the sugar.
  6. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
  7. Spoon ½ cup waffle batter in the hot greased waffle iron.
  8. Bake until golden. It will smell like popcorn.
  9. Enjoy!

Makes 6-8 waffles, depending on the size of your iron.

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Twelfth edition. Edited by Marion Cunningham with Jeri Laber. Alfred A. Knopf: New York. 1979.p. 500.

the-fannie-farmer-cookbook-57448l1

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Irish Breads

There’s more than one way to loaf around in Ireland…..

Soda breads

White and Brown

Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Bread

Soda Bread in farls - a griddle cake

White Soda Bread in farls – a griddle cake

Oatcakes

Irish Oatcakes (they're not just in Scotland or Wales)

Irish Oatcakes (they’re not just in Scotland or Wales)

Blaa

Waterford Blaa - in the Irish Food Guide

Waterford Blaa – in the Irish Food Guide

and Cakes.

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but really it's tea cake, even if it shows up in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say bread - it's cake

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but it is really not bread, even if it shows up by that name  in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say it’s bread – it’s cake.

Most of what will be passing for Irish bread this week is actually cake – tea cake and seedy cake. If it has sugar, butter, seeds or raisins in it – it’s a cake and not a bread. It’s delicious and delightful, please enjoy,  allowing  me my Marie Antoinette moment by letting you all eat cake, but bread is bread and all that added stuff is cake.

Oatcakes have morphed into a kind of biscuit – or cookie – for the most part and are probably the most traditional bread of Ireland, although not the most famous. Oats and griddle baking go back to the medieval period when Ireland was saving civilization for the world. Don’t believe me? Read Thomas Cahill.    How_the_Irish_Saved_Civilization

Blaa is a sort of yeasted white bread roll, perhaps named from the Norman ‘blanc’ when they stopped in to conquer  Ireland. Recently it was a headline in a New York Time travel article, Dining in Dublin from Boxty to Blaa ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/travel/dining-in-dublin-from-boxty-to-blaa.html?_r=0 ) which includes  In November, I spent a week in Dublin eating my way through some of these restaurants, most of which opened in the last few years. It was my fourth visit to this stately city of Georgian townhouses and lively pubs, and I’ve never eaten better.”  a sentence I hope to make my own some day.

Soda Bread is the kind of bread that screams “Irish Bread” in the month of March around here. It is a bread that is leavened with baking soda and not yeast. Commonly referred to as “quick bread” they go together quickly – no rising time – and are ready as soon as they come out of the oven. Many of them are best warm….and are improved the next day by toasting, because they do stale up almost as quickly as they cook.

Because milk is an important part of the Irish diet – it’s called the Emerald Isle because of all the grass that grows there, which I great fodder for cows, so the butter and beef of the country is not a cliché, but an important part of the culinary landscape for centuries – Soda bread is often made with sour milk or butter milk. The slight acidity level of this liquid actually makes the soda work better.

The classic Soda Bread is a pound of flour and a pint of sour milk, a spoonful of soda and a little salt. Mix together, form into a rough ball, slash a cross into the top to allow the steam to escape the middle so it bakes all the way inside OR to divide it into quarters, or farls, for griddle baking.  The cross  has no religious significance, or if it does I’d like to see a reference from someone who isn’t a detractor about the superstitious Irish. But in typical Irish fashion, we accept the venom of our detractors into as compliments. thus confusing them, and then start to believe our own press. Sigh.

And now for a recipe that isn’t particularly Irish in it’s origins, but turns out a really nice loaf in American kitchens.

Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour (four cups of flour is roughly a pound – measure it by weight if you have a scale…..)

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon double acting baking powder

1 ½ -2 cups buttermilk (2 cups is a pint, and a pint’s a pound the world around….)

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. Make sure there are no lumps in the soda, it’ll leave dark patches in the bread. I toss it into a bowl and use a whisk to combine everything.
  2. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough.
  3. Knead it until it comes together, maybe for a minute or two. It should be firm, velvety and able to hold it’s shape.
  4.  Form into a round loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet (or on a silpat on the cookie sheet). IF the dough is a little slack and starts to schlump on the sheet, butter a 8-inch cake pan or casserole dish and bake in that to give the bread it’s form. (How do I know this? You know how I know this)
  5.    OR in a genius move from the current Martha Stewart Living Good Thing: form the dough into 16 equal pieces and place on a lined cookie sheet – YES – Irish Bread in Individual Loaf Form!!!! I’m planning to freeze it at this point, and then making as much bread as I need at any given moment. (Marthastewart.com/soda-bread http://www.marthastewart.com/1055131/pull-apart-soda-bread)Or divide into farls and bake on a griddle and let me know how it works for you.
  6.    Bake in a 375° oven for 35-40 minutes. The loaf will be brown and have a hollow sound when rapped with your knuckles. 
  7.   James Beard let the loaf cool before slicing….let it cool at least a little, it makes it easier to slice. Slather with butter…maybe some marmalade….with bread like this who needs cake?

From James Beard. Beard On Bread. Alfred A. Knopf. 1973. pp.164-5

James Beard

James Beard

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