I still haven’t visited Ireland. What’s wrong with me?! My husband became a full-fledged Irish citizen in 2013 and, drats, life has just gotten in our way. Thank goodness for Elizabeth McNally of Wee Kitchen. For St. Patrick’s Day, we’re featuring a real Irish recipe, courtesy of our favorite Irish traveler. Elizabeth, the lucky lady, got to spend a lot of time in Ireland in 2013. Today, she shares one of her favorite baked goods from the land of green! -Maggie
Although I celebrate Irish fare year round, as St. Patrick’s Day approaches my awareness is heightened further by the general excitement that surrounds me and I find myself seeking more ways to share Ireland, its people, and its heritage—my heritage—through its amazing food.
In the north of Ireland—where I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time—I’ve found the skill of baking to be revered, enjoyed, and shared. The act of baking for oneself or one’s family does not seem to be enough; lovely baked goods are shared proudly.
Baking is inspired by the beautiful produce found all over Ireland. Adding items like rhubarb, beets (yes, beets!), currants, sloe berries, and leeks to your sweet or savory baked goods can bring you a little closer to true Irish baking.
Sunday Farmers Cake is a non-yeast version of Barm Brack—a treat typically prepared in the Autumn. It’s a quicker bread to make, but remains full of flavor. This recipe makes two loaves so it’s ideal for keeping one and sharing one.
One of the adaptations I made to this recipe is the substitution of about half the amount of flour originally called for with cake flour. I wanted a cake that was both soft, but still retained its structure; I was happy with the result!
I hope you’ll share a bit of the best of Ireland with your family and friends this St. Patrick’s Day!
Sunday Farmer’s Cake
Adapted from Coleman Andrews’ The Country Cooking of Ireland
Yield: Two loaves
- 325 grams cake flour
- 300 grams all purpose white flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
- 200 grams sugar
- 170 grams butter, frozen. Plus more for greasing.
- 150 grams golden raisins (sultanas)
- 150 grams dried currants
- 2 tbsp. grated orange zest
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 600-720 ml. buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450°F/230°C/Gas Mark 8.
- Lightly grease 2 loaf pans. (I used 1 loaf pan, 1 mini loaf pan, and 3 small tartlette pans. )
- Sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar together into a large bowl and mix well.
- Remove frozen butter from freezer and grate on a fine grater.
- Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, add grated butter into the flour mixture and mix until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Alternatively, you can use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture. Add sultanas, currants, orange or lemon peel and lemon zest. Mix well.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the eggs and 600 ml. of the buttermilk. Hand-stir liquid into the flour mixture, working in a spiral motion from the middle toward the sides of the bowl, and adding a bit more buttermilk if necessary to make a moist but cohesive batter. Do not overmix.
- Spoon batter into the loaf pans and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6 and bake for 20-30 minutes longer. (My various pan sizes took varying times to bake.)
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