cookbook photography

I just took a peek inside the front cover of my Silver Palate Cookbook, and it appears that I bought it back in 1982. That sounds about right.  That would also be the year I started baking this Irish soda bread, one of the many recipes I fell in love with from this beloved classic.

There are a few places in my well-used book that easily open to favorite recipes. You can see evidence of batter-smeared fingers that turned pages, or places where splatters of soup or stock got too close to the action.

Like all quick breads, baking soda and/or baking powder are the leavening agents, rather than yeast. This recipe calls for a teaspoon of baking soda, a full tablespoon of baking powder, and buttermilk – a powerful combination that makes the batter rise immediately as you stir it together.

I’m pretty sure that most of the world eats Irish soda bread piping hot out of the oven, but I like to refrigerate the baked loaf overnight and then toast thin slices. A crisp, buttered piece of Irish soda bread, chock full of currants, goes perfectly with a cup of tea or espresso. This not too sweet bread is equally good alongside a bowl of soup.

Irish soda bread, a well-loved recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook, by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1-½ cups dried currants
  • 1-¾ cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, well beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Smear 2 tablespoons of the butter evenly in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Line the buttered skillet with a circle of waxed paper. Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter and set aside.

Sift dry ingredients together. Add currants to dry ingredients and toss well to coat.

Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons reserved melted butter. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into prepared skillet and smooth top. Dot the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 1 hour. (Mine was done after 55 minutes.) Either serve warm directly from skillet, or let cool completely on a rack, and then wrap carefully and refrigerate overnight. If serving chilled, slice thin and toast.

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The photography in Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes (from the brilliant minds at @luckypeach) is delicious and weird and unlike any other cookbook photography you’ve ever seen.

The cookbook will be on shelves October 27th but if you preorder your copy now you can get a special limited edition activity book created by Jason Polan, the artist behind Every Person In New York.

Come on. Look at that hand made out of summer rolls. You know you want to.