Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Traditional Irish soda bread is pretty bland. A quick bread that’s good with a stew or smothered in butter and jam, but on it’s own isn’t very appealing. Adding dried cranberries and candied orange peel sweetens what otherwise would be tasteless. I’m using about a third graham flour with all purpose flour, and some added wheat germ for taste and health. Good Irish butter and a little whiskey are fun, optional ingredients that give these muffins a little more richness and Irish appeal. Enjoy these muffins as a brunch starter, in the afternoon with tea, or kept in the freezer to be removed the night before for a quick— on the go— breakfast.

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Irish Soda Bread Muffins

1 1/4 cups/ 6 ounces all-purpose flour
1 cup/ 3 ounces whole wheat flour, or graham flour (alternately, you can use all all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons candied orange peel, chopped*
3/4 cup + 1 teaspoon buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir (or combination)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange peel or caraway seeds, if using, whisk together. Add dried cranberries and butter. Using your finger tips, rub together the butter and flour mixture until small crumbs form and cranberries are separated. Add the candied orange peel and stir to combine.

Mix together 3/4 cup buttermilk/yogurt/kefir and 2 tablespoons Irish Whiskey, stir well. Stir into dry ingredients only until moistened, being careful not to over mix. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or butter and flour the tin. Use an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the tin.

Mix 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey with remaining buttermilk and brush the top of the unbaked muffins and sprinkle the top with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden and bread sounds hollow when thumped on bottom. Cool muffins on wire rack. Muffins can be frozen and toasted.

Irish Coffee

It’s fun to be writing our first Irish Coffee recipe. San Francisco lays claim to a modern classic in Jack Koeppler’s 1952 creation. Mr. Koeppler owned the storied Buena Vista Café, which sits perched above Fisherman’s Wharf and Aquatic Park on Hyde. The cocktail was apparently inspired by the Irish Coffee Mr. Koeppler happened upon in Shannon Airport in Ireland. On a quest, he enlisted the aid of travel writer Stanton “Stan” Delaplane, to help him come up with a facsimile.

Today, the café claims to sell as many as 2,000 Irish Coffees a day.* We don’t know if this statistic says as much about the quality of the drink as it does San Francisco’s drinking habits, but we aren’t judging.

So here it is, in time for your St. Patrick’s Day drink-up (or morning after recovery), the famous Buena Vista Café Irish Coffee:

Irish Coffee

6 oz. piping hot coffee
1.5 oz. good Irish whiskey (we’re fans of the 10 year old Bushmills single malt but the Buena Vista uses Tullamore Dew )
2 tbsp. sugar (traditional Irish recipes call for 2 tbsp. brown sugar)
3-4 tbsp. lightly whipped cream

Note: The Buena Vista Café serves Irish Coffee in what look like a cross between a desert glass and a beer glass, but any large coffee mug will do.

Heat coffee mugs by filling with hot water. Pour the water out, pour coffee, add sugar and whiskey and stir to melt sugar. Top by pouring slightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon to float it atop the coffee.

The coffee is to be enjoyed through the cream, so don’t shy away from that mustache.

*The Buena Vista Café Irish Coffee story can be found on the café web site.