Irish Soda Bread with Coffee Jelly

August 24, 2012

Irish Soda Bread with Coffee Jelly

Traditionalists will love this recipe for Irish soda bread as it has no "modern" ingredients to blur the plain, delicious palette that good soda bread can be for a lovely jam or jelly. We are, however, departing from the Irish tea tradition by what goes on top of the bread; a lovely coffee jelly that tastes delicate and delicious.

Irish soda bread has been around since the 1840s when bicarbonate of soda was first developed to replace yeast as a leavening agent. For Irish soda bread purists, recipes contain only flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk or buttermilk. This was a bread made daily, so it needed to be simple, easy to do, and made from readily-available ingredients that were as plentiful as they were inexpensive. The traditional pan to bake the bread in is called a bastible pot, similar to a black iron Dutch oven with a lid; if you have one, use it as it makes a spectacular bread; otherwise, follow the two-pan method described below.

The Coffee Jelly can be served alone or topped with slices of peeled oranges for a double whammy of flavor. (Jellies use a gelling agent, typically pectin or gelatin, and sweeteners and are usually clear or translucent while jams use sugar as a thickening agent and contain colorful pulp.) This Coffee Jelly is also delightful on fruit.

This recipe makes 1/2 pint, about 4 ounces of Coffee Jelly and about 14 slices of Irish Soda Bread.

Coffee Jelly Ingredients:
4 heaping tablespoons of ground coffee
12 ounces of water
1 level tablespoon of granulated powdered gelatin
4 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup of sugar

Coffee Jelly Directions:
Put the gelatin and cold water into a bowl and allow to stand for at least 15 minutes.
While the gelatin is coagulating, brew the coffee.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of hot coffee to the gelatin mixture and stir until both the gelatin and sugar are dissolved.
Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean glass jar, allow to cool, then refrigerate. Serve with Traditional White Irish Soda Bread and cups of freshly brewed, hot coffee.

White Soda Bread Ingredients:
Butter and flour for greasing the pan and a little more flour for the surface for kneading
4 cups soft unbleached wheat flour such as pastry flour (Arrowhead and Red Mill are reliable brands)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 ounces of buttermilk

White Soda Bread Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
Lightly grease an 8" round cake pan with butter then dust it lightly with flour.
Combine all the dry ingredients into a flour sifter and sift them into a large bowl.
Add the buttermilk; a sticky dough will form.
Place that on a floured surface and knead quickly and very lightly.
Shape the dough into a round flat shape and place it in the prepared pan.
Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top.
Cover the pan with another pan or a heavy lid and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes to facilitate a browned crust on the top.
Remove the pan from the stove and release the bread from the pan; the bottom of the bread, when tapped, will sound hollow, a sure indication of doneness.
If you will eat it promptly, allow to cool just slightly and slice. Add the coffee jelly or the jelly and some orange marmalade or sliced, peeled oranges, and enjoy.
If you are baking the bread for later in the day, cover the bread in a linen towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
It makes great toast... with more coffee jelly, of course.