Irish Soda Bread and Popovers from Marion Cunningham are just two of her famous creations. Marion was a California homemaker who overcame her agoraphobia (fear of public places) to later in life become one of America’s most famous and enthusiastic advocates of home cooking.
She made home cooking something to be proud of and gave her ‘housewife food’ her own personality. “No one is cooking at home anymore, so we are losing all the wonderful lessons we learned at the dinner table,” she said in an interview in 2002.
Marion Cunningham was an inspiration to many and accomplished much before she died in 2012 at the age of 90 years old. One of her most famous works was The Breakfast Book where she celebrates the simple pleasures of creating a memorable morning meal.
I love her Irish Soda Bread and Popovers, which are both surprisingly simple to make. My inspiration came from a PBS show she did with Julia Child in 1992. When I saw the PBS replay of the show I was hooked on Marion Cunningham!
Check out the show and also find both bread recipes below.
Marion Cunningham’s Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients: 4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 2 cups of buttermilk.
Grease an 8 inch glass pie plate or use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and put the rack in the middle of the oven.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and add the buttermilk. Stir until everything comes together and then turn the dough out on a floured surface. Knead the dough for only a minute resisting the urge to do more. The dough should not be overworked. Form the dough into a disk about 6 inches across.
Place in your prepared pan. Cut a cross in the dough about a halfway deep as shown. Bake for about 50 minutes until the slash widens and the bread is a nice golden brown.
Cool the bread on a wire rack then wrap the bread in a moist dish towel until ready to serve. You can keep this bread wrapped and at room temperature for a day or so before it starts to firm up a bit. I wrap mine in the damp cloth and put it in a freezer bag on the counter. It is best used up within a day or two and makes great toast as well.
And it’s delicious slathered in butter and jam!
Next up – Marion Cunningham’s Popovers
Makes 7 – 9 large popovers, depending on size of the cup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Melted butter, for greasing the popover cups
Position rack on lowest rung of oven and preheat to 425°F. Butter nine 3/4-cup glass custard cups. My custard cups were a little larger than this so I used one less cup. Place them on a jelly-roll pan, leaving space between each cup. Pour all the ingredients into a blender and whirl until smooth. Strain batter if lumpy. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into each cup. Bake, without opening the oven door, for 25 minutes, until the popovers are puffed, nicely browned, and crisp on the exterior. Turn temperature down to 350°F and bake another 15 minutes.
They are really at their best served immediately.
Of course, a few hours later I poured on some melted butter followed by jam and they were incredible.
Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book is less than $18 on Amazon! A small price for such a great book.