Carrot and Dillisk Bread #BreadBakers

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My decidedly very un-Irish self has always had a soft spot for all things Irish, including Mr. Dough, whose face alone belies his Irish heritage. So we do our part each year around St. Patrick's Day (which, from what I understand, is a much bigger deal in the US—especially New York—than it is in Ireland) to celebrate the Emerald Isle in a fitting way—with food. Food that always includes a classic Irish bread—and I don't mean the abomination known as the green bagel. This year though, I was kind of over endless variations on soda bread and thought I'd try something new, so with great reluctance (insert sarcasm font here), I bought a couple of new cookbooks specifically about Irish breads. Thumbing through, this one immediately caught my eye—Carrot and Dillisk Bread—mainly because I had no clue what dillisk was. Enter Google: Dillisk, also known as dulse, is seaweed. 

Now somehow, when I think of cuisines known for their use of seaweed, Irish doesn’t jump to the head of the line. Japanese, definitely. Irish, not so much. But Ireland not only has a long history with edible seaweed (going back to 1200 BC!)—most especially as a famine food during the Great Potato Famine, when it provided life-saving sustenance to coastal peasants—but harvesting seaweed for multiple uses, including fertilizer as well as food, is fast becoming an important industry in Ireland. (Wait a minute. Fertilizer AND food? Who else is old enough to remember the classic Saturday Night Live skit for new Shimmer? “It’s a floor wax!” “No, it’s a dessert topping!” Just me then? Okay…)

But back to the bread… I was good this time and ordered my dillisk—a North Atlantic seaweed—from local sources in Maine/Canada rather than buying the stuff from Ireland, because who knew when it would actually arrive. Like most quick breads, this one is super easy. I didn't quite know what to expect taste-wise, a little sweetness from the carrots and a salty tang from the seaweed maybe? The texture is dense and moist, it has a slight aroma of the sea and the taste? Well, color me surprised but it tasted just like…cornbread. Yes, cornbread. Go figure. Certainly unexpected but a very pleasant surprise indeed. This is definitely a bread that will go into regular rotation and one that I'd highly recommend trying—forget about those damned green bagels!

This carrot and dillisk bread is my contribution to this month's #BreadBakers theme: Irish Breads, hosted by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. Thanks Wendy! Don't forget to check out the links below to see what the other talented bakers came up with.

Carrot and Dillisk Bread

Ingredients

  • 25 g dried dillisk (dulse)
  • 110 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • a pinch of salt
  • 50 g granulated sugar (optional)
  • 250 g white spelt or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease and line a 1 lb. loaf pan.
  2. Soak the dillisk in warm water for about 7–10 minutes, then drain, reserving a bit of the soaking water, and chop finely.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients together. 
  4. Sift in the baking powder and flour, folding gently until incorporated. If the mixture seems to dry (it should be a fairly thick batter), add a little of the reserved soaking water.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 50–55 minutes.
  6. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Notes

I thought I'd try chopping the dillisk first before soaking. Yeah, good luck with that. It was nearly impossible. In its unhydrated state, it's fleshy and rubbery and even after trying to cut it with my sharpest knife and pulsing it in the food processor, it was a no-go. Once it's soaked, the texture completely changes and chopping it up was easy-peasy.

Slightly adapted from Irish Bread: Baking for Today by Valerie O'Connor

#BreadBakers March: Irish Breads

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.