Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We had some friends over for an authentic Irish meal in honor of St. Patrick's Day. We made Irish bacon and cabbage (corned beef is actually an Irish American tradition - in Ireland they eat pork much more often), Colcannon (which is mashed potatoes with cabbage), soda bread, and drank blackcurrant squash. It was a delicious meal! I asked my sister who is living in Ireland what to serve for dessert and her Irish husband said apple tart with custard. I remembered eating this while we were in Ireland and decided it would be perfect.

I found an Irish apple pie dessert online and decided to give it a go. I was a bit worried about the crust when I started to roll it out. The sour cream in the dough became really moist and made the rolling difficult. I used a lot of flour when I rolled out the top of the crust so that it wouldn't stick. This was my first time using sour cream in a pie crust, but I have to say it turned out really flaky and delicious. I made it festive by using a shamrock cookie cutter on the top crust. To serve, we dished some custard into a soup plate and put a piece of pie on top.

Irish Apple Pie

For crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice

For filling:
5 large Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice

For wash:
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch pie pan.
2. To Make Crust: In a large bowl, combine flours, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening until coarse crumbs are formed. Mix in sour cream and lemon juice. Keep mixing until dough forms a ball; dough may be slightly lumpy, this is fine. Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and allow to chill for 1 hour.
3. Once chilled, take dough out of refrigerator and cut it in half; keep one half covered and in the refrigerator. Roll dough to 1/8 of an inch. To lift pie shell, roll dough around rolling pin and then unroll into pie pan. Trim overhanging edges of pie crust.
4. To Make Filling: Place apples into pie shell. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and nutmeg; mix thoroughly. Sprinkle mixture over apples. Squirt lemon juice over apples. Place pie in refrigerator while top crust is rolled out.
5. Remove pie from refrigerator. Brush outer edge of bottom crust with beaten egg. Place second crust on top of pie; crimp pie shell edges together. Brush entire top crust with egg and cut 4 steam slots into it.
6. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow pie to completely cool before serving. Serve warm with Bird's Custard.

I didn't get a picture of the soda bread, but it turned out great. It was my first time making it and I thought it turned out much more moist than the soda breads we ate in Ireland. Oh, and it was so easy! The trick is to not overwork the dough. It will look like a clumpy ball when finished, but it will taste great!

Irish Soda Bread

1 lb all purpose flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon baking soda
14 oz buttermilk, approximately

First, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large, wide mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center. Pour most of the milk into the flour. Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands.

Gently roll the ball of dough around with floury hands for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Then pat it gently into a round, about 2 in high.

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet (I used a silpat). With a sharp knife cut a deep cross in it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread.

Put this into your preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 400°F for a further 25 minutes, or until cooked. When the bread is cooked it will sound hollow when tapped.

Cooking time: 35 minutes, approximately
Yield: Makes 1 loaf

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