Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I am going to tell you a secret... know that delicious bread you eat on St. Patricks Day? The one with raisins and currants and orange zest and lots of other yummy goodies? The one you call Irish Soda Bread? The one that your mother, and her mother, and HER mother made...and have now passed the recipe on to you?

Well, I mean absolutely NO OFFENSE... but that IS NOT Irish Soda Bread.

Think about it...Irish Soda Bread having raisins, and currants, and orange zest, and The Holy Mother knows what else? They didn't have that stuff in Ireland!! Most people were poor!! Farmers!! Fruit was a luxury!! Until this last century, an orange was a special treat the RICH KIDS got in their Christmas stocking!! You didn't have that stuff sitting in your larder, ready to whip out to make your daily bread.

Irish Soda Bread is a humble, everyday bread. It requires only 4 very accessible ingredients. It had to be made each and every it had to be fast, hearty, and CHEAP.

True...adding all those goodies makes the bread REALLY good. Almost like a dessert!! And I'm not saying you shouldn't, if that's what you want to do. After all (and I've said it before)...if it's a recipe handed down in your family...doesn't that, in itself, make it traditional? Who cares if it isn't an honest-to-goodness authentic Irish Soda Bread?

But for those of you puritans out there, I am including a REAL Irish Soda Bread recipe.

This is for a WHITE's even MORE authentic with wheat. But I made white this that's what you get. Maybe next year I'll go hardcore...grind my own wheat and everything ;).

Now THIS is Soda Bread...

White Irish Soda Bread

4 cups (16 oz) of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
14 oz (roughly) of buttermilk

Okay...before we even begin...these are ROUGH measurements. I make this bread by hand...scooping out flour and measuring by sight. I tried really hard to measure accurately this year...just for you (so don't ever say I didn't never do nothin' for ya'). If you have to add a little more buttermilk to make the dough "sticky"...then do so. If you add too much, toss in a handful of flour to dry it out. In other words...PLAY WITH IT. The more you make this...the easier and better it will get. Don't save it just for St. Patricks could make this everyday and have fresh bread at dinner each and every night.

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a cake pan (or...if you're me and have a great round casserole with a lid...or a Le Creuset round casserole with a lid...they will work as well).

2. In a large bowl, sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.

3. Add buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on a floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows all the gas to escape...practice will teach you to know when enough is enough)

4. Shape into a round flat shape in the cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

5. Cover the pan with another cake pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates a bastible pot...or you can just use a covered round casserole). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

6. The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it's done.

7. Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

Don't expect it to last...

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