Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish American

I don't need peppy, crazy, over-the-top reporters/weathermen at 6 am. Just tell me if I need a coat, umbrella, or an alternate route to work. After moving, one local channel was the only one that I felt gave me the most amount of information without annoying me. Sadly, my satellite company decided to cancel the station (contract negotiations) and thus, ruin my morning for a week. It's amazing how something like this can throw you off so much. Thankfully, this week should be better...they came to their senses and we have our local channel back!

I had many ideas for what to bake this week, in preparation for St. Patrick's Day. I thought about Bailey's Cheesecake, Guinness Chocolate Cake, and even Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (sounded good, but it would involve purchasing a lot of Irish alcohol). One of my least favorite Irish baked goods has been the Irish Soda bread. I set out to find a recipe that would make me like it, something not so dry. This recipe is an Irish American version in the form of muffins. It seems like a very adaptable recipe while still staying true to the flavor. Enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread Muffins
Oven 400

1 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

3/4 cup 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups currants (first choice) or raisins
1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (optional)
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted; or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
sparkling white sugar, for topping

Lightly grease a standard muffin pan; or line with papers, and grease the papers. Makes about 18 muffins.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).

Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won't take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups. Top with sparkling white sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don't get soggy. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool. Serve them plain, or with butter and/or jam.

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