For St. Patrick’s day (and my birthday) I wanted to test my skills with something traditional and Irish and with something that I could share afterward. Last night after I got home from the gym I did some searching on the internet for easy Irish recipes and decided on a traditional Irish soda bread recipe, although technically it was a recipe for a “spotted dog” since it had raisins in it.
I setup my work area, preheated my oven and got to work on mixing my dough. Soda bread is interesting because unlike traditional bread where yeat is use to make it rise, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), an alkaline, in combination with buttermilk, an acid produce a chemical reaction that creates gas that makes the bread rise. I mixed the dough in a bowl and once kneaded, I placed it into a loaf pan.
With the temperature set at 450 degrees F, I placed my loaf inside the oven and set my timer to countdown to 15 minutes. At 15 minutes I lowered my heat to 400 degrees F where it was to remain for 30 minutes. At 25 minutes to go the power went out in most of my apartment. Mysteriously the bedroom lights worked and the stove was still on. Something tells me I should have paid more attention to the the electric company trucks parked on the street with works moving about. With 13 minutes to go all of my power went out; the timer continued to count down. At this point I didn’t know what to do. I wondered, was my bread ruined? Would it bake correctly or even bake all the way through? Would I have to conceed to defeat? I decided to let the timer count down and after the 30 minutes were over I decided to leave the bread in for another 15 minutes as the temperature continued to fall. I hoped this would be enough to compensate as I had nothing to lose.
When I pulled the bread out, I slid it out of the loaf pan onto a cooling rack. Once cool enough to touch, I picked it up and tapped the bottom and heard the hollow sound that I was looking for. I kept it in tact until morning and then sliced it before bringing it into work to share and get opinions. Overall I and my co-workers were impressed. The flavor was delicious and I was very happy with the result.
Incidentally, the recipe is so easy to make, I was able to whip up another loaf in no time with the lights out that using candle light. A chef is never deterred.
I wasn’t able to bake it of course since I was without power and so I put the loaf in the fridge to keep with the hope that I might be able to bake it in the morning before work. This wasn’t meant to be and I had to bake it tonight before heading out to dinner. Amazingly I was able to produce another loaf equally as delicious.
While I was fortunate with my first loaf, it was a clear reminder that not everything works out as expected in the kitchen and that surprises do pop up. Remaining calm while willing to find a solution to my problem proved to be rewarding.