Irish Soda Bread {TWD-BWJ}

Although I’ve recently had to cut back on my baking/blogging commitments, I’ve been toying with joining the second round of Tuesdays with Dorie since it was announced. I bought the book Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan a while ago but hadn’t made anything from it yet. So when a group was announced to regularly bake recipes from the book, I was sorely tempted to join. What finally tipped the scales was the fact that there would only be two recipes per month, and members are only required to post one of the two. A once a month commitment fits even my schedule, so I decided to jump in.

The other thing that helped me decide was the second recipe for March: Irish soda bread. I love Irish soda bread and make it regularly, especially around this time of year. In fact, by the time I saw this pick for March 20, I had already made two soda breads: one from a Bob’s Red Mill mix and the other Irish whiskey soda bread from my friend Michele’s blog. I ended up taking these loaves to work, where they were both big hits, so I needed to make another loaf for home for St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to ease into TWD than baking something I was going to make anyway?

This is a very simple recipe. There are only four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The dry ingredients get whisked together, then the buttermilk is stirred in and the whole thing is formed into a loaf. After slashing the top of the loaf with the traditional cross-shaped pattern, it goes into a 375°F oven for about 50 minutes.

This loaf baked up beautifully and looked like a traditional soda bread. We had already had dinner by the time I made it, so I ate a piece of the bread with butter for an evening snack. It came out a bit dry for my liking. I didn’t check the temperature of the loaf during or after baking, so I’m not sure if it overbaked or if that texture was to be expected. There is almost no fat in the bread, so I’m not surprised it came out kind of dry.

As far as the flavor goes, it was just so-so. The buttermilk gave it a nice tang, but otherwise it was a bit bland. Of the three soda breads I made this week, this came in third in both flavor and texture. Others have reported liking it more than I, so I might try it again sometime. But for now, it’s definitely not a contender to become my go-to soda bread recipe.

Ligurian Savoy Cabbage Pie {ModBak}

Flush from my success with curried fish pie, it was time for the next Modern Baker Challenge recipe — cabbage pie. The Savoy cabbage for this recipe had been in the refrigerator for a few weeks, so I knew I had to make it soon. I decided to change this one up just a bit. Rather than making a typical double-crust pie, I thought I’d use my new Celtic baker from King Arthur Flour and make it more like a pot pie.

After blanching and shredding the cabbage, I sautéed onion and garlic in olive oil, then added the cabbage and cooked it down.  I scraped the vegetables into a bowl and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I stirred in ricotta, parsley, eggs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, then poured the mixture into the casserole dish.

I topped the pie with rolled out pieces of crust, then baked it at 375°F for about 30 minutes. The filling set up nicely and the crust was lightly browned and flaky.

Although this dish would make a nice appetizer or light dinner, I served it as part of our St. Patrick’s Day meal, alongside corned beef, mashed redskin potatoes, and Irish brown bread. The cabbage pie was well-seasoned and made a nice accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

I’m not sure I’ll make this dish again, but we did enjoy it as a change from our normal steamed cabbage or Colocannon.

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