Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day

For St. Patrick's Day this year, I wanted to veer away from the traditional round of soda bread and try something different. Then I saw an interesting soda bread recipe in last Wednesday's New York Times. So much for veering away from soda bread. The Times's recipe is excellent, producing a moist, flavorful, buttery loaf. Apparently it's not much like traditional soda bread, but that's OK by me.

I had planned to make a Guinness chocolate cake from Tish Boyle's Cake Book. Then the new issue of the King Arthur Flour Baker's Sheet arrived; it contains a recipe for Guinness spice cake. Although I figured I'd bake them both, the weekend kind of got away from me, so Tish's cake didn't make it. The Guinness spice cake from King Art's is very much like a dried-fruit filled gingerbread. The dried fruit (dark and golden raisins, and some dried cranberries) is soaked in Guinness stout for 15 minutes; then it's combined with the rest of the batter. Although the cake is quite tasty, my gripe with the recipe is that the fruit largely sunk to the bottom while baking. I've been wondering what to do to get around that problem. All I can think of is that I could have drained the Guinness and added it separately, then dredged the fruit in a bit of flour (potentially a headache because the fruit would be soaking wet from its Guinness bath). Bottom line is that the cake passed the edibility test, and that's what matters most.

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