Ackroyd’s cooking up Irish fare

Steve Pardo
The Detroit News

At Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery, co-owners Allan Ackroyd and his daughter, Megan, are already gearing up for a busy St. Patrick’s season.

This is the time of year people can’t get enough of their corned beef and cabbage pasties, meat pies, and soda bread.

Forget that the bakery is Scottish, not Irish. The Irish aren’t all that fond of corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day anyway. It’s more along the lines of what Americans think the Irish eat.

“We have corned beef and cabbage pasties, we have the Irish stew pies — these are exclusive to the month of March,” Megan Ackroyd said. “The corned beef and cabbage pasty isn’t something you’re going to find in Ireland. It’s an Americanized St. Patrick’s Day thing.”

It’s made from cooked corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and seasoning.

“Basically, it’s your basic Irish boiled dinner in a pasty,” Allan, 61, said.

The bakery has had plenty of time to gather a following. Started by Allan’s father and uncle, it’s been around for 67 years. The bakery moved from Detroit to its current location on 5 Mile and Beech-Daly in Redford in 1972. The massive ovens used are from around the 1960s. Other kitchen equipment is around the same age or older. Allan often serves as the impromptu mechanic when things go wrong.

And now’s not the time for things to go wrong. Right around now sales of the Irish soda bread, for instance, go from on average from less than a dozen a week to more than 300. All the pastries, from the bread dough to the shells to the pasty coverings, are made in-house, from scratch, the Ackroyds said.

“Megan’s probably tired of hearing me say this, but we make everything from dust,” Allan said. “We don’t buy pre-made puff pastry or anything like that.”

They’re open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. When asked for recipes of their popular dishes, one is out of luck.

“Step one. Get into a car. Step two, come in here,” Megan said.

Irish-themed options

Americanized or not, for many it wouldn’t be the same without a corned beef dish. But if you want to go with something lighter, reduced-fat Dubliner cheese melts beautifully and compliments chicken breasts. The lower-fat cheese gives us the same gooey, rich cheesiness with fewer calories and less saturated fat compared to other cheeses. You can use chicken thighs (cooked to 170 degrees) instead of chicken breasts, which reheat better because they are not quite as lean. Either way, the chicken is also very good served cold the next day.

Baking with Guinness

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just an excuse to drink Guinness. It’s also an excuse to bake with it.

Try a chocolate cake with Guinness, then topped with a glaze also made from the stout. The affinity between the chocolate and the Guinness is great.

For additional richness, you mix Guinness with an equal amount of half-and-half. And to tie all the flavors together — a hint of freshly grated nutmeg. You don’t really taste it, but it highlights all the other flavors.

The glaze is an essential part of the cake, as you poke holes in the cake when it is still warm and slowly spoon the glaze over the cake until the holes are filled with it. That way, once the cake is cooled and sliced, each piece has rivets of deep chocolate glaze set into the top of the cake.

For anyone who is nervous that the cake will taste like beer … it does not. The Guinness adds a stouty richness that makes the cake delicious. It’s one good way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, the Ides of March, or anytime you want a great piece of chocolate cake.

Brownies are also enhanced by Guinness.

The brownies are a love letter to the chocolate-stout combination, with their dark chocolate flavor and an underpinning of reduced stout. Slightly cakey and still fudgy, the top of the brownies have melted bittersweet chocolate bits to gives you a double chocolate hit. And best of all you can make this using just your double boiler, making cleanup easy.

Make sure to measure the stout with no foam. Pour the stout and let it sit to let the foam settle. These stay moist and can be made a day ahead. Cover in an airtight container and they still taste just baked. You can also freeze them and defrost, sprinkle with powder sugar and serve.

Try them with a stout on the on the side. If you can’t get into that, a glass of cold milk will do.

The Associated Press contributed.

Beer-Braised Cabbage with Bacon

6 strips bacon, halved crosswise

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 medium (about 2 pounds) green cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

12-ounce bottle or can beer (any variety)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Heat a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, turning as needed, 5 to 6 minutes in all. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan, then return it to medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the cabbage and toss occasionally in the pot for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the cabbage begins to wilt and is well mixed with the onions.

Pour in the beer and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and most of the liquid is evaporated. Crumble the reserved bacon and stir it into the cabbage. Serve hot or warm. Serves 8.

Per serving: 140 calories; 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 57 percent calories from fat); 10 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 15 mg cholesterol; 280 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber.

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Glaze

Recipe from Elizabeth Karmel

For the cake

1 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for the pan

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup Guinness, room temperature

For the glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

6 tablespoons Guinness

2 tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan very well with cooking spray. Sprinkle in a bit of cocoa powder, turning to coat evenly, then overturning to discard any excess.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of cocoa powder, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, stir together the vanilla, half-and-half and Guinness.

With the mixer running on low, alternate adding the liquid and dry ingredients to the sugar-butter mixture, mixing just until everything is mixed and smooth. Transfer to the prepared Bundt pan, tapping it gently on the counter to release air bubbles. Smooth the top, then bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

When the cake is done, let it cool in the pan for 25 minutes. Set a wire cooling rack over the pan, then invert it so the cake stands on the rack. For ease of cleanup, set the rack over a rimmed baking sheet or a sheet of kitchen parchment. Use a toothpick to poke deep holes all over the top of the cake.

Spoon glaze over the top of the cake and wait until it seeps into the holes. Spoon more glaze into the holes, then wait 10 minutes. Spoon the remaining glaze all over the top so it covers the holes and drizzles down the sides. Serves 12.

Per serving: 500 calories; 20 g fat (12 g saturated fat; 36 percent calories from fat); 76 g carbohydrates; 50 g sugar; 115 mg cholesterol; 190 mg sodium; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber.

Dubliner Cheese and

Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts


2 large bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 pounds), ribs removed

3 ounces thinly sliced Dubliner (or cheddar) cheese

1 plum tomato sliced lengthwise into four 1/4-inch thick slices

4 large, flat parsley leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a shallow baking sheet pan with cooking spray.

Cut each breast in half (through the bone) to make 4 equal portions.

Working with one piece of chicken at a time, pull the skin back, but not completely off. Lay the cheese on the chicken, then top with one slice of tomato. Place a parsley leaf flat on the tomato, and pull the skin back over to cover.

Repeat with the other portions of chicken, then place the chicken on the prepared pan; season with salt and pepper if desired.

Bake 12 minutes, then lightly brush the skin with pan juices. (Take care to not brush any melted cheese on the chicken). Continue baking until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees, about another 12 minutes. Serves 4.

Per serving: 393 calories; 19 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 44 percent calories from fat); 2 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 144 mg cholesterol; 386 mg sodium; 50 g protein; 0 g fiber.

Double Chocolate Stout Brownies

1 cup stout beer like Murphy’s or Guinness, foam removed

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter

4 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Powdered sugar, optional garnish

Butter and flour a 9-by-12-inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pan, bring the stout to a boil on high heat and boil for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and measure. You should have 1/2 cup. Reserve.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and mix to blend. Reserve.

In the top of a large double boiler over medium heat, combine the butter and chocolate. Melt together, stirring, and cool.

When the chocolate is cooled, add the stout, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until totally blended. Fold the flour mixture in until just incorporated, and no flour remains.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out slightly fudgy. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack, then slice into 2-inch square brownies. If you like, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar before serving. Makes 24 brownies.

Per serving: 199 calories; 10 g fat (6 g saturated fat; 45 percent calories from fat); 25 g carbohydrates; 19 g sugar; 46 mg cholesterol; 71 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber.