Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread - To Celebrate the Irish

Who is Mrs. O'Callaghan?  In this month's issue (March 2010) of Bon Appetit Magazine, Actor Andrew McCarthy writes about his quest to find the Ultimate Irish Soda Bread recipe in Ireland-- where he has a second home.  Due to respect for copyrights, I won't post the picture of Mrs. O'Callaghan, but she is the Poster Person for "Visit Ireland". I will print a portion of her quote, from this article:
 A tiny, still-elegant woman with red hair, Mary O'Callaghan has been baking her mother's recipe for brown soda bread through 45 years of marriage and 12 grandchildren. "It takes me five minutes now to make. I like it with just some butter and a bit of the marmalade we get right in Doolin. Or it's lovely with a slice of salmon for lunch." Mary made all five of her children's wedding cakes and did all the baking for the hotel, but now, it's just the brown bread. She leans close. Her hazel eyes are dancing. "Denis likes it," she whispers. And it's easy to see what wowed her husband 45 years earlier, when Mary's mother was Denis's teacher at school.
I was sold on wanting to make her recipe--just from her photo. Would you believe that this is my first paid subscription issue of Bon Appetit? 'Tis true! I've used  Epicurious.com to find recipes,  but I have never subscribed to Bon Appetit. What took me so long? I read this issue from cover-to-cover, and I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew McCarthy's article.  Maybe it's because I spent a whirlwind one week tour all over Ireland a couple of decades ago, with a Swiss girlfriend of mine. I loved Ireland! We traveled from Dublin and along the Coast of Ireland. We drove the Ring of Kerry route, and I even hung backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone-- which might be where I got the gift of gab. Who knows?  We even drove to Northern Ireland's  Antrim Coast to see the Giant's Causeway, and stayed at Ashford Castle. What memories! The food!  I loved it!  The people were lovely, and I dearly hope to take my husband there for his first time. Back to the recipe-- I liked the ingredients in this recipe for Soda Bread, and I had everything on hand!

White flour, whole wheat flour, soda, brown sugar and butter...


 I made two recipes, this morning from this issue. I'll start with the Soda Bread:

 
Whisk the dry ingredients together...

I decided to experiment using a food processor. I'm all about shortcuts, so here we go!  I pulsed the cold butter, until crumbly. Then, I added the buttermilk (spilling a little, oops).  Once the dough had become "shaggy" (that's what the recipe said).  Shaggy?   Mine was a little dry, but clumpy.

On a lightly floured surface, I kneaded the dough together...and kneaded...and kneaded. It took some work to get the dough to "stick".  I'm not sure if I should have used a little less flour? I finally resorted to using a rolling pin to smooth out the ball of dough to about 7" in diameter.  As instructed, I cut an "X".  I improvised a brushed a little melted butter on top and sprinkled some Old-Fashioned Oats-- for some texture.  I set the dough on parchment paper and baked it at 425 for 40 minutes (checking it at 35 minutes).  Later, I realized I could have used a pizza stone. D'oh!

My advice is to be sure to bake to a golden brown.  My dough was shaped "round", so the ends baked first and it the middle seemed a little less baked.  The workaround to this is to bake it in a loaf pan.  (I ended up returning the loaf back into the oven for 5 more minutes, and it worked out just fine.  The smell is incredible!  No kidding, my mouth was watering...

I brushed a little more melted butter, once it came out of the oven, so the oats would stick. There!

 
Not bad, for my first attempt at Soda Bread! Let it cool for a bit (which is hard to do). I waited 20 minutes.

So, here's the first slice. Butter, yes, definitely!

The slice is holding together, with a few crumbs here and there...

Great Scott!  This is excellent!  Ms. O'Callaghan, you are a Saint. An Irish Saint!

I could not resist trying this with honey.  Amazing!

I intend to try another version, or two, of Soda Bread.  The bar is set high, because this is a winner.  I served this with a "Eggs in Purgatory" .  The two went very well together.  Tomorrow morning, we are going to lightly toast a slice of this, slather it with butter and homemade marmalade and a cup of hot tea.

If you are afraid of yeast breads (which, fortunately, I am not), this is super easy to make.  I'm not Irish, but but my visit to Ireland has left a special place in my heart for this Green Isle, the people and the food. For that reason, I like to make Irish recipes for St. Patrick's Day.  It won't be corned beef and cabbage, but I'll think of something. I always do! To read the full article on Soda Bread, and how Andrew McCarthy decided that Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda bread was the ultimate recipe, click here.  I concur. It's pretty darn good.

The recipe card is printed at the bottom of this page.

Thanks Bon Appetit!


Irish Soda Bread on Foodista


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16 comments:

À LA GRAHAM said...

I just love you and your posts...I feel like I am right in your kitchen with you and seriously wish I was so I could eat some of this soda bread. Photos are amazing as always!

Susan said...

Debby, we have subscribed to Bon Appetite for over 30 years. In all those years, we have always tried to make at least 2 recipes out of each issue and succeeded. Let's say we certainly have gotten our money's worth. This bread and your purgatory eggs look excellent.

George Gaston said...

Debby, your photos of the slices of bread with all that beautiful melting butter are awesome! If only there was a computer software program that allowed you to send me a slice just as you have posted; I'd be a happy happy guy.

Interesting story about Mrs O'Callaghan & Andrew's quest. I'll have to get a copy and read it.

Kim said...

I want a slice of that:D It looks gorgeous Debby! I love the picture of the slice with the butter and honey - yum!

TKW said...

This bread looks exactly like the kind I happily ate all around Ireland. So delicious!

Joanne said...

I just subscribed to Bon Appetit after getting a special offer from Amazon.com. I love all of their recipes so I don't know why I waited so long either. It's been SO LONG since I've had Irish Soda bread...maybe since elementary school? I definitely am going to try to squeeze in some time to make it this year. Yours looks quite delicious.

Bellini Valli said...

How could we resist the call of the Irish Debby:D

Ed Schenk said...

You can bet I'll be making this in a week or two!

Tami said...

I love bread. It is one of my weaknesses. I gave it up when I started low carbing but when I saw your post, your pictures drew me in to read about this bread. It looks awesome! :)

The Food Hunter said...

I just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it!

Karen said...

I love Bon Appetit - have been reading it for years. I've never had Irish Soda Bread - about time to fix that!

Kate said...

I had just finished reading BA when I saw your post...I had decided that I would be making this bread. Thanks for taking it on a trial run!! It looks so delicious.

Monica H said...

I saw this post hte other day and wanted to comment but I didn't have time! Actually I didn't want to comment, I wanted to reach through the screen and grab a piece of this. yum!

Kate said...

Hi Debby, Just wanted you to know that I made this soda bread and mentioned you when I posted on the Saturday Blog Showcase.

http://www.thibeaultstable.com/2010/03/hot-fudge-sauce-saturday-blog-showcase.html

Simple Simon said...

I just put a loaf of this bread in the oven after reading the article from Bon Appetite. I have been a faithful subscriber to this great magazine for 30+ years, since the year I graduated from college. I love it!

My bread dough was so dry when kneeding it that I had to put it back in the bowl and add some more buttermilk. We'll see how it turns out, but yours looks absolutely perfect.

breadbird said...

Soda bread does not need kneading,the key to it turning out right is handling it as little as possible. Once you turn it out of the bowl, shape it and put on baking tray. Also the idea of the cross on top is to mmake sure it cooks evenly throughout, and from your photos it looks like quite a shallow cross you put on it so that could explain why it baked unevenly... (I'm Irish and make soda bread regularly!). Nice to see other people making it though, well done. :-)