Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Irish Soda Bread

Cookbook Countdown is a cookalong hosted by two food bloggers, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Emily of Emily's Cooking Foray, to help cookbook junkies focus on using their dust-gathering cookbooks. Each month we select one book from our shelves and cook as much as possible from that book. This is something I've been considering on my own for one of next year's cooking goals. Having found Cookbook Countdown, I decided to join in a bit early.

This year, if all goes well, I'm finishing up a long-term project of reading and cooking from all the books of the Time-Life Foods of the World series. I bought these books when they were first issued in the late 70s and they have been travelling with me ever since. Until I started this project in 2014, I'd only rarely used the books, cooked a few recipes, read the odd bit. Now, though, I'm down to the last six (of twenty-seven) books. My current schedule allows me a month and a half to read and cook from each remaining book. That's usually about a month to read and a couple of weeks to cook. This only sort of fits with the Cookbook Countdown schedule, but will do for now. Maybe I'll be organized enough to add another book into the odd month while I'm only reading my Time-Life book, but I'm not counting on that for now. We'll see how this goes.

For the first half of May (and possibly beyond), I'm cooking from The Cooking of the British Isles.

The first thing we've sampled is Irish Soda Bread (p18). This is a really simple recipe—butter a baking sheet, mix together 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt, add 1 to 1-1/2 cups buttermilk, make an 8" disk, slash the top, and bake at 425F for 45 minutes. It's easy and quick to make, especially since I did the hardest bit of the mixing in my food processor. But the dough was quite dry even though I used all of the buttermilk mentioned. You can see the dry edges in the photo and maybe notice that there isn't much rise. My baking soda hasn't expired, but I think I need to test it before using it again.

In spite of the funky appearance, it tastes pretty good. The first night we used the still warm bread as soppy for some shrimp chowder. Sliced horizontally and toasted, with some butter and jam, it made a good addition to breakfast in the following days.

I searched for images of Irish soda bread, and mine actually isn't far off what it might look like. I did find that recipes can be plain like this one or sweet (with currants perhaps) and are frequently more complicated than this one.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their cookbook choice of the month. You could even join in if you want!


  1. Welcome Kaye to Cookbook Countdown!

    You are on an epic and interesting journey with the books of TLFotWs!
    Looking forward to your adventure of TCotBI which sounds great! I made Irish Soda bread before, I think I need to re-visit it again!

  2. Hi Kaye,
    Welcome to Cookbook Countdown! Great to have you joining us in our cookbooks journey! I have not made soda bread before, though it has been on my list for so long. Looking forward to see what you'll make from your last six books of the World Series.
    Have a delicious week!