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.

Happy New Year!

New Year: 2013

We’re back! After a long break, big vacations and more food than we could ever catch up on, we’re ready to hit the kitchen, the keyboard and the camera in what promises to be our most productive blogging year yet.

In spite of the hiatus, 2012 inspired a number of posts we look back at with pride. The year started with a double wedding (two days, two states, same couple) and a beautiful almond wedding cake. We discovered raw kale salads and we scratched the surface of the food scenes in Washington D.C., Seattle, London and Scotland. Fava beans and preserved lemons brightened our spring and we learned to make cheese. Our tribute to St. Patrick included plenty of Irish Coffee and a tasty loaf of Irish Soda Bread. Eyebrows rose when we recommended salting our drip coffee, but nobody batted an eyelash when we substituted arugula for basil in our take on pesto. Recipes offered a mix of the simple (pickled red onions) and the complex (apricot buttermilk pie), all with a focus on in-season, locally grown organic products.

As we begin a new year, we look forward to sharing more of what we prepare in our one-ass kitchen. We thank those of you who continued to visit in spite of our disappearing act. To those who found us this year, we offer a belated “Welcome!”

Our goal in the New Year is to inspire you to cook. Our hope is that you’ll follow our lead in sourcing the very best ingredients you can find. Please let us know what you think of the things we’re cooking. Your comments are always welcome.