Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 7: The Cooking of the British Isles

If you've known me for any length of time, you probably know that I'm obsessed with books. One of my favorite categories is (naturally) cookbooks, especially ones that are out-of-print. I happen to love the TimeLife Foods of the World series (first published 1968, now out-of-print) and pick up the individual books wherever I happen to see them. The Friends of the Library book sale in OKC is where I've bought most of them. Last weekend, Paul and I were downtown and I suggested we go into A Legacy Antiques to see if they might have the British Isles entry in the series. Lo and behold, they did actually have the wire-bound recipes notebook. I couldn't believe it! I went home and ordered the hardcover book from Amazon. It came Friday and I read all of it this weekend.

Above: My four Foods of the World books (recipe notebooks not pictured)
Below: A housewife in County Mayo makes Irish Soda Bread (from Foods of the World: The Cooking of the British Isles)

Irish Soda Bread (love it!) is the first recipe I've tried and it turned out really well. We had it hot, just out of the oven, with dinner Sunday night and I've been eating it with butter and strawberry preserves at tea time. Being a quick bread (meaning yeast isn't used for rising), it's very easy to make and the results are definitely worth it. It's very similar to biscuits (the Southern kind, not the British kind), but it doesn't have butter/lard/shortening. We just slathered on butter after it came out of the oven.

Here's the recipe (adapted from The Cooking of the British Isles):

Makes one loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (see why it's called Soda Bread?)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk*
a couple of butter papers

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the buttermilk, stirring with a wooden spoon until you can form the dough into a ball. You may not need all of the buttermilk. Be sure not to add too much or the dough will be too sticky.

On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into an 8-inch circle that is about 1 1/2 inches tall, being careful to handle the dough as little as possible. Using a razor blade (or very sharp knife), cut a 1/2-inch-deep "X" into the top of the loaf.

Grease a baking sheet with the butter papers, place the loaf in the center (X side up), and then bake for 45 minutes in the center of the oven, or until top of loaf is golden brown.


*I needed 1 3/4 cups, but the original recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

In parting, another decorated nook of the living room:

1 comment:

  1. I want some of that bread...
    I wish we still had tea together.


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