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Irish breads fine addition to saint's feast

Thursday, March 13, 2003

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day early this year: Last week we tested Irish Freckle Bread and Irish Brown Bread.

 

Irish Freckle Bread is a sweet yeast bread. speckled with currants. Currants resemble raisins but they're tinier and darker in color. We used currants for another recipe years ago and decided we prefer using raisins. For the Irish Freckle bread we used golden raisins. If you prefer currants you can find them at any large grocery store. The prep time for Irish Freckle Bread is about 30 to 35 minutes plus an additional 1 hour and 45 minutes for rising. This recipe yields two round (we used two 8-inch round cake pans) loaves. The bread turned out a beautiful golden brown and was delicious.

Comfort food came to mind when we made Irish Brown Bread. It's a hearty bread made of buttermilk, molasses or corn syrup, baking soda and salt (to help with rising) and whole wheat flour. Irish Brown Bread is Irish Soda Bread made with whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. it's a breeze to make. Within 10 minutes the dough was mixed and in the prepared pan (9-inch round cake pan). Irish Brown Bread bakes for 35 to 45 minutes. Serve this full-flavored bread with soups or stews.

The Irish Freckle Bread recipe was sent in by Rose Labash of Shaler for Beverly Durkins of Moon. Elizabeth Simpson of Downtown sent in the Irish Brown Bread recipe for Rita Holzer of Baldwin.

Irish Freckle Bread

  • 1 small potato, peeled, cut into16 pieces

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup very warm water, see note
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace, optional (we used nutmeg, see notes)
  • Egg wash: 1 egg and 1 table- spoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Cook the potato and 1 cup water in a small saucepan, over high heat, 16 to 18 minutes until potato is tender. Leave potato in water and mash. Measure mashed potato, add water if needed to equal 1 cup. Return to saucepan. Stir in currants. Let cool.

Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup very warm water in a small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes, until foamy; stir to dissolve yeast. Stir yeast mixture, potato mixture, eggs, sugar and melted butter together in a large bowl.

Stir in 2 cups flour of the flour, salt and mace until smooth. Add remaining flour, mixing until stiff dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 45 minutes. Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with a clean damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and knead several times. Divide in half. Shape each half into an 8-inch round. Place each round into a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Cover lightly and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly beat egg and milk together and brush over each loaf. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over each. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden. Loaves should sound hollow when tapped. Remove loaves from pans to racks to cool. Makes two 8-inch round loaves, about 8 servings each.

Tester's notes: The temperature of the liquid in which the yeast is dissolved is important. Too much heat kills the yeast while too little will slow its growth. Dissolve dry yeast in liquids at 105 to 115 degrees. We always use a thermometer to be sure. Mace is the ground, dried outer membrane of the nutmeg seed and slightly more pungent than nutmeg. It can be hard to find.

Family Circle magazine, March 1999

Irish Brown Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • About 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons light molasses or corn syrup

In a bowl, mix flours, soda and salt. Add buttermilk, oil and molasses and stir until well moistened.

Oil a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with flour. Scrape bread batter into pan and spread until level. Bake in a 400-degree oven until bread is well-browned and just begins to pull away from the sides, 35 to 45 minutes. Cut loaf into wedges in pan, or invert onto a plate and cut in wedges.

Requests

Does anyone have the original spaghetti sauce recipe that appeared on the Vimco spaghetti boxes in the '60s or '70s? It included ground beef, tomato paste and garlic. I know we tend to lean towards bottled sauces today; however, I would like to try making the sauce from scratch again," writes Barbara Gelzhiser of Overbrook.

Carol Kirby of Spring Lake, N.J., is trying to locate a recipe for Italian rum cake with a chocolate filling (similar to cannoli filling) and a fruit and whipped cream icing.

A request from Stephanie Bushnell of the California Bay area writes: "Does anyone one have a recipe for Firecracker Pork Fusilli?

Debbie Schunk of Franklin Park shares this: "My family's favorite cookie is the Mediterranean Macaroon that Kaufmann's makes. If you've never had it, you haven't lived! They are a soft coconut macaroon with dates. If anyone has the recipe or something that sounds like it might be similar, I'd love to have it."

MaryJo Alimena Caruso of Baden, Beaver County: "Several of my friends and I who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in the '80s remember the French onion soup at C.J. Barney's.

"My friend and fellow graduate Michael Boytim, now living in Pasadena, is looking for the recipe so that he can make a batch when he's watching a Pitt game or reminiscing about Pittsburgh."



If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail toaburnett@post-gazette.com . Please include a name, neighborhood/city/borough/township and state and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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