Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Irish soda bread competition now open to pros

ALBANY -- OK, now this soda bread stuff is getting serious.

A professional category has been added to the Irish American Heritage Museum's annual Maureen Farrell McCarthy Irish Soda Bread Competition for the fourth annual event set for Saturday, March 5.

In addition to continuing the amateur baker category that has been the mainstay of the event, professional bakers and chefs are being invited to compete in three categories -- traditional white flour, traditional wheat flour, and family recipe/not strictly traditional. Amateur bakers will continue to vie in family recipe and white flour categories.

Money will continue to change hands only for the amateurs -- $300 for the top baker in each category, $100 Price Chopper gift cards to the runners-up, and an Irish cookbook for the third-place finishers.

The pros will be competing for a first-place trophy, second-place medal, and third-place certificate.

According to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, the first known and written recipe for Irish soda bread was published in the November 1836 issue of the Farmer’s Magazine  in London, taken from a recipe from County Down, Ireland. The recipe of white flour, salt, baking soda, and an acid such as sour milk or buttermilk established the traditional Irish soda bread.

"So if your recipe contains anything more than the original four ingredients cited in the County Down recipe ... you are not about to make a traditional Irish soda bread! You are making what is called 'spotted dog' or 'railway cake,' which has become, over the past 170-plus years, non-traditional soda breads."

The Irish American Heritage Museum is located at 370 Broadway. Phone: 427-1916. Its website contains information and entry packages for amateurs and pros.

Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

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