Irish Soda Bread

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Since time immemorial, my family has been baking soda bread every March 17th. Over the years who baked it for St. Patrick's Day changed hands and now I've been given the privilege to bake my own. The recipe stems from tradition but has evolved to be something much more delightful than the dry, coarse, usually stale loaf that it is often thought as. This recipe uses plenty of butter, buttermilk and caraway to impart amazing texture, standing power and that good old fashioned flavor.

The method used for this recipe is exceedingly easy and will give even the most novice of bakers a chance for great success. The key to this bread's flaky and buttery texture lies in cold ingredients. Much like when baking biscuits, the cold ingredients lend to good flake and a better final product.

480-500g all purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
6 tbs butter
1 egg
1 cup golden raisins
1 tbs caraway seeds
14 oz buttermilk

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda until combined. Dice the cold butter into pieces and work it into the flour mixture until the texture resembles gravel. Do your best to avoid melting the butter by using a spatula to mix as much as possible. Add the raisins and caraway seeds. In a separate container, beat the egg into the buttermilk then combine with the flour mixture. Mix the dough so it just barely comes together, no kneeding is required but you will want to shape the dough in to a rough ball.

Transfer the dough to a buttered cast iron pan or baking dish and score the top deeply with an "X" to ensure even cooking. Bake at 450F for 20-35 minutes, it will be done when it is golden brown on top and a skewer comes out just dry from the thickets part.

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6 Gallon Glass Carboy

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Session New England IPA

Session New England IPA

Sometimes you need a beer fast. A beer that will impress a crowd, be easy to drink and be ready in 12 days. This is that beer. This recipe is a session version of our New England IPA (NEIPA) that touts just as much juice and hop forward aroma as it's bigger brother. We're adding a just touch of lactose to this recipe for extra body and juiciness to make this 5% beer taste fuller yet still be easy drinking.

session new england ipa easy recipe

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Style & Targets
Session New England IPA
5% ABV @ 5 gallons

6 lbs US 2-row malt
2 lbs white wheat malt
2 lbs flaked oats
4 oz Crystal 120L
4 oz lactose
1 oz Centennial hops (60 minutes)
1 oz Mosaic hops (whirlpool)
1 oz Citra hops (whirlpool)
1 oz El Dorado hops (whirlpool)
1 oz Citra hops (Dry Hop, 3 days)
1 oz El Dorado hops (Dry Hop, 3 days)
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp Irish moss (great bulk deal over here!)
1 pkg Safale-04

Bring 16 quarts of water to 158 F in your boil kettle and combine with the grains, shooting for a target mash temperature of 148 F for 60 minutes.
After the 60 minutes have passed, add 1.5 gallons of 170 F water to the mash and drain. Once drained, add 4.25 gallons of 170 F water, let sit for 10 minutes before draining again.

Boil Schedule
60 minutes - 1 oz Centennial
15 minutes - 1 tsp Irish moss
10 minutes - 4oz lactose
0 minutes - Flameout & cool wort to 165 F
(@ 165) F - Add the whirlpool hops. Since we don't have an actual whirlpool, we'll just give the wort a good stir as we add the hops and let it sit at around 165 F for 20 minutes. This addition at such a low temperature will impart almost exclusively aroma and no bitterness.
(-20) minutes - Cool wort to the pitch temperature of 68 F, transfer to the fermentation vessel and add the yeast.

Give this lovely beer 5 days before you add the dry hop addition. Fermentation will still be going on but that's ok, in fact the biotransformation that can occur will only increase the juicy characters of the dry hopping. After the dry hop addition has had 3 days to sit, carefully package it with as little oxidation as possible. Consume this beer fresh! Hoppy beers taste best within 2 weeks of packaging.

86 Industry Life

86 Industry Life

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Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake

This delicate, airy, masterpiece really doesn't deserve to be called a cake. A cake is dense and heavy, this is about as far from that as you can get. Although it takes a little extra care to craft, it is actually quite easy, fairly healthy (for a cake) and very rewarding to share. This recipe is courtesy of the great and powerful Alton Brown, with some changes (like adding weight measurements) that I'm sure he would approve of.

easy light and fluffy angel food cake

Angel food cake is a very unique cake because of its lack of any fat additions. The cake is only made up of a protein from the egg whites, which are whipped in to a meringue and added to a flour and sugar mixture. There are few very important tricks to remember when making this cake that will ensure the fluffiest result.

1. Use room temperature eggs for the best meringue results and separate the eggs, one at a time with three containers. One for yolks, one for quarantine and the final for completely yolk free whites. This will ensure that no fat at all gets into your final mix, even the smallest fat will ruin the rise of the cake.

2. Use clean dishes and make sure no oil or butter residue is in your bowls and pans.

3. Sift your flour and sugar every time you measure or transfer it to ensure the smallest particles of both get mixed in to the meringue.

4. Do not over mix the meringue and flour mixtures.

5. Bake the cake all the way till the visible top (bottom) is lightly browned before opening. If you open the oven too early the cake could deflate.

angel food cake

12 egg whites (at room temperature)
240 g powdered sugar
128 g cake flour
1/3 cup warm water
1.5 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp orange extract (or any of your choice)
Optional 1-2 oz shaved or grated chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Sift 120 g of the powdered sugar (about 1 cup) with the cake flour (about 1 cup) and salt, then mix and set aside. In another bowl, add the carefully separated the egg whites ensuring no yolk makes it in. Add the tartar, salt and extract to the egg whites and whisk by hand until combined. Sift half of the remaining sugar into the whites and begin to beat on medium speed with a hand mixer. You can do this without one but it will take some serious time and energy.

This is the most important step of the process so take care to slowly add the remaining sugar and beat the whites until a beautiful foam and then fluff appears. You're looking for medium peaks. You'll know you've got them when you take the beaters out and gently turn them towards the ceiling and the meringue that is on them will form a curled peak. It won't be perfectly stiff but stable enough to hold its shape. The below image is what it may look like in the bowl; any further and they would be too stiff and eventually destabilize.

Once the meringue is ready, sift 1/3 of the flour and sugar mixture on top of the airy pile of fluff. To combine, gently cut through the middle with a large spatula, scoop and fold over while making a quarter turn. Do this three more times then dust the top with half the remaining flour and repeat. Do this again with the remainder of the flour and mix as before. If you are adding the shaved chocolate, you would do it during this time in batches along with the flour.

angel food cake mix

Ever so gently distribute the mixture into your completely clean and grease free cake pan. Carefully place it in the oven and leave it be for 30 minutes. If the visible part of the cake looks lightly browned, open the oven and test for doneness with a skewer, if it comes out just about clean, you're good! Carefully flip the pan over and let the cake cook upside down for an hour. Remove from the pan by sliding a thin knife around the edges, then remove the bottom of the pan the same way.

This cake can be paired with just about anything, so go wild! I actually enjoy it plain and with my hands, so I can revel in its cloud-like wonderfulness. Some macerated strawberries and fresh whipped cream on top is pretty fantastic as well!

Easy Popovers

Easy Popovers

An often overlooked classic, these incredibly airy popovers will have you dreaming up endless fillings to pair them with. These are so simple and require so little ingredients you can make them anytime you fancy a treat. You could season these with anything from garlic and parmesan to black pepper and thyme but the one constant you must follow is to not open the oven until they have finished rising or they may collapse in to sadness.

easy popover recipe

You can absolutely use a lovely popover tin like this one but in a pinch, a muffin tin works just fine. Either way, start by preheating the oven to 475F and then by generously coating 9-10 tins with melted butter - about a teaspoon for each popover.

4 tbs melted butter
3 eggs
160 g all purpose flour
8 oz milk (or almond milk)
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper and 1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder and 2 tbs grated parmesan

Once the over is preheated and the pan is coated, combine all of the above ingredients except the flour (add in one set of optional goodies if you'd like) and whisk until fluffy and combined. Then add the flour and whisk until fairly smooth, it should be a very runny batter - more runny than package batter.

Pour the mixture into each tin and fill about 2/3 full. Place the tin in the oven and drop the temperature to 375 F and bake for 25-30 minutes without opening the oven at all. The popovers should have risen very nicely and are beginning to dry on the surface (no more butter bubbling). Rotate the pan if needed and continue to bake until the tops are golden brown.

Remove the tin from the oven and poke a whole in each popover to let out steam as it rest for five minutes. Serve warm with something sweet like jam, or something savory like beef tartar.

Ode to Guinness

Ode to Guinness

It's true what they say, Guinness really does taste better in Ireland. I didn't believe it at first either, it must be an affect of the experience. While that may be part of it, the saying becomes abundantly clear when you taste it over there - it's fresh. We all know fresh hoppy beer is king but who knew that even applied to the old reliable, creamy and quaffable Guinness. When I first visited Ireland, the brewery was the first stop, right from the airport. After what was probably the most well put together museum and self-guided tour I've ever been on, I poured my very own pint of the black stuff. It hit me immediately, it was the hops! To my amazement, I could taste fresh, grassy and bright hops. This is why Guinness, like every beer, tastes best fresh.

It is hard to go a meal without that lovely brew while I'm in Ireland so when I'm home, I definitely miss it. Although I don't have a nitro setup, I feel the recipe below emulates that lovely brew nicely and it always satiates my need for a glass of the good stuff. I won't call it a clone, let's call it an ode to a classic.

Guinness as a glass of grain

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Style & Target
Irish/Oatmeal Stout
5.5% abv @ 5 gallons

Mash Grains:
7 lb US 2-row
2 lb flaked oats
1 lb flaked barley
8 oz biscuit malt
Sparge Grains:
2 lb pale chocolate
12 oz roasted barley
Everything Else: 1 oz East Kent Golding hops (60 minutes)
1 oz East Kent Golding hops (0 minutes)
8 oz Lactose (5 minutes)
1 pkg Safale US-05
recipe calculated with BeerSmith 2.0 - The best brewing software around!

Mash in with only the "mash grains" listed above (save the roasted stuff for later) with 20 quarts of 158 F water, shooting for a target mash temperature of 148 F for 60 minutes. Once the 60 minutes are up, add in your "sparge grains," mix and then add 1 gallon of 170 F water. As usual you want to vorlauf (drain and re-add to the mash) a couple quarts until you see particulate free runnings, then start draining the tun. Once the grain bed is completely drained, add another 4.25 gallons of 170 F water, let sit for 10 minutes and drain in to the boil kettle with the first runnings. Use the following boil schedule:

Boil Schedule:
60 minutes - 1 oz East Kent Golding hops
5 minutes - 8 oz lactose
0 minutes - 1 oz East Kent Golding hops

As usual, cool your wort to 65 F, transfer to a sanitary fermentation vessel, pitch the yeast and let it go! What makes this delicious beer so much like Guinness, despite the lack of nitro, is two-fold. First, the addition of the dark malts during the sparge process helps to eliminate an astringent flavors that would otherwise be over extracted during a full 60 minute soak. The second is the addition of a body from both the oats, flaked barley and the lactose.

Guinness as a glass of grain