Irish soda bread: it joins the list of carbs I shouldn’t have eaten this week, but I did anyway. Corina is to blame.
The Tacoma bakery bakes the bread for Doyle’s. Doyle’s serves the bread toasted with dishes like shepherd’s pie and Guinness stew.
I don’t usually like soda bread. I’ve always thought it a waste of a bread. It’s thick, dense, the texture is difficult to get right. Most examples I’ve eaten are better as door stoppers than something I want to use as a vessel to dip into a big bowl of Guinness braised stew.
And this was a week that I dove into a panini sandwich at Villa Caffe & Imbibery that was made with a delicious, swoon-worthy pillowy soft panino roll from Essential Bread Company. That bread is the kind of bread that lifts expectations. It made me want to put soda bread on alert this week, “Listen up soda bread. You better be good, really good, or I’m not going to waste my time on you.” Corina’s soda bread crossed that threshold. The soda bread at the other two Irish restaurants where I dined couldn’t hold a sack of old flour to Corina’s soda bread.
Corina’s soda bread is a special-order item, and the recipe was created for Doyle’s. But during March, the Irish soda bread will be featured on the regular menu at Corina’s. You can buy it at the bakery starting Monday. And you can order it at Doyle’s anytime.
“The soda bread is something that they (Doyle’s) came to us and asked us to do. At first, I was thinking, ‘soda bread?’ It didn’t seem so complex, it’s such a quick bread,” said Stephanie Pollak, bakery manager at Corina. “ I started putzing around and researching it. That’s when I started understanding it.” Sometimes things that start simple get awfully complicated. Pollak ran into that with the texture of the bread. And the flavor, too.
Her research led her to a few things that push the Doyle’s Irish soda bread to crave-worthy status: currants and caraway seeds. The cousin of anise, caraway has a delicious flavor with licorice-like notes. If you can get your mind around rye, you can get your mind around caraway. The currants add a sweet note, but they’re not as sweet as the raisins that Pollak found too many bakers add to their soda bread. That’s the wrong flavor. All wrong. She doesn’t like that flavor. Neither do I.
“It’s really subtle, it’s got a clean flavor,” said Pollak of the buttermilk-based quick-bread batter. I agree. Soda is there, but it’s not the first note of flavor. It’s subtle. She likes the slightly bitter taste of currants and that they give just enough chew to the bread so that “you don’t feel texturally affronted.”
Nobody likes to be texturally affronted.
Also on the specials menu at Corina for March are more St. Patrick’s/Irish themed desserts. They’ll make a Guinness Stout Cake. And, I think it would go splendidly with this. As a follow up to my Bailey’s and Guinness ice cream experiments last year, I’m working on a Jameson Whiskey ice cream recipe right now. Stay tuned. I think it’ll pair up nicely – maybe — with the Guinness Stout Cake.
Where: 510 6th Ave., Tacoma
Doyle’s Public House
Where: 208 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma