Lots of Recipes!

March 12, 2018
This is about...
IRISH Soda Bread---YUM!!
Irish soda bread on pan  6199.png
        I HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT ST. PATRICK’S DAY. My family is part Irish. Ok. But, my mother would always dress me up for school in “THE WEARIN’ OF THE” --- ORANGE. Yes orange. You see, we were Irish Protestant—orange Irish. The first year I really understood what that meant was in 3rd grade. There I was in my orange dress surrounded by a sea of green. AND, THE TEACHER DECIDED TO TURN ME INTO A LESSON PLAN, explaining the conflict between the predominantly northern Irish Protestants and mostly southern Irish Catholics though my clothing. All I wanted to do was crawl under my desk. From then on, green was my color of choice for every St Patrick’s Day.
        Believe it or not, THE COUNTRY’S DIVISION EVEN FILTERED INTO THEIR BREAD. Though soda bread was, of course, popular all over Ireland, the way it was made was different. In the south, the dough was formed into one big loaf andcooked in a cast iron pot. Then before it was baked, it was slashed with a big cross on top to ward off the devil and protect the household. In the north, they usually cut the round of dough into 4 triangles and cooked them on a griddle.
        Like so many poor countries, soda bread was the product of necessity. Not only was it easy to make, but it was cheap. And unfortunately or not, THE WHEAT GROWN ON IRISH SOIL WAS A SOFTER GRAIN THAT DIDN’T WORK WELL WITH YEAST --- yeast being better suited for hard wheat varieties. But, baking soda as the leavening was a perfect match for the softer flour.
        THE ORIGINAL SIMPLE LOAVES WERE MADE WITH ONLY 4 INGREDIENTS—flour, salt, “sour” or buttermilk and baking soda. They bake up very heavy and very substantial, and as the only flavoring is salt, kind of boring tasting too. Although adding caraway seeds and raisins or currants are considered acceptable Irish additions today. Some recipes go way off the traditional, adding sugar, butter, eggs and all sorts of other stuff. MY RECIPE IS DEFINITELY IN THE LATTER CAMP.
And, I make it even quicker by making it in a stand mixer. After the dough comes together, all that’s required are a few turns in the bowl with floured hands, and then out onto a pan to bake. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A STAND MIXER, YOU CAN EASILY MAKE THE DOUGH IN A BOWL, cutting the butter in with 2 knives and stirring in the liquid. Either way be sure to make the iconic cross on the top with a floured knife. And, I LIKE TO ADD ONE MORE DELICIOUS STEP---BRUSHING THE ENTIRE LOAF WITH MELTED BUTTER before it goes into the oven, and then again half way through the cooking time, just like my family did. That little girl in her colorful dress always loved a slice slathered with butter too.
Don’t send your daughter to school on St Patrick’s Day in an orange dress!

May you have:
A world of wishes at your command
God and his angels close at hand
Friends and family their love impart,
And Irish blessings in your heart.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure the butter is cold. Soft butter will make a pasty loaf.
2. This really is a quick bread. So don’t fuss with it too much. It’s better if the dough is a little rough.
3. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by mixing 1 ½ Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar into the 1 ½ cups of whole milk. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes to thicken.


4 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup currants or raisins tossed with 1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter cut into 1/4“ cubes
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk, well-shaken
1 large egg
4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the bread:
               Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed half sheet pan with parchment paper, or grease very well. Set aside.                In a large measuring cup, add the buttermilk and egg. Mix lightly with a fork. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Mix only long enough to incorporate all of the ingredients---not a second more! about 15-20 seconds.  Remove the paddle, take the bowl off the stand, and with floured hands, knead the tough 4 or 5 times into a ball. Place on the prepared sheet pan, and form into a round loaf about 8 to 9 inches in diameter.   Using a floured knife, or razor, cut a ½” deep “x” on the top of each one, re-flouring the knife after each cut. Brush with the melted butter, making sure to get some of the butter into the cuts.
        Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, and brush the bread again with the melted butter. Return to the oven and bake another 30-40 minutes until golden brown and a skewer in the center comes out clean. Alternatively, if you have an instant read thermometer, when they reach 210 degrees F, they’re done.
               If there’s any left, it can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap. The loaf freeze really well too.

Makes one 9 inch loaf.          YUM!
Would LOVE to hear from YOU! Leave your COMMENT below.