Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In the spirit of the holiday, what better day to make traditional Irish soda bread? Honestly, I had never made it before (never even heard of it before!) but when my husband said it was delicious, and it wouldn't take 2-3 hours to make because there's no yeast that needs to rise, I gave it a shot. Now the original post from Spoonful is written by an actual Irish woman, so I trust her recipe. However, I made a few adjustments (such as converting the measurements for you below and giving a helpful hint near the end). Here's what you'll need:

* 1 1/2 C of white flour
* 1/2 C of whole wheat flour
* 1 teaspoon of baking soda
* 1 teaspoon of butter (but I did a Tablespoon and it came out great!)
* 1 1/2 C of buttermilk
* (optional) A fist full of oat bran

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Next, if you have a sieve, lay it over the rim of the bowl and sieve the white flour and baking soda. If you don't, you can use a sifter like I did.

Once you're done, pour in the whole wheat flour.

Using your fingers, rub the butter into the mixture and lift the mixture above the bowl so as to let in as much air as possible. This isn't going to rise as much as a typical loaf of bread so this is an important step.

If you want, you can add the oat bran here (it's a good source of fiber).

Pour in your buttermilk all at once and using your hands, combine it to form a dough in a circular pattern.

Don't overmix it or it will become dense and clumpy when baked so combine the buttermilk until you're able to put the dough onto a floured surface. I know, it'll look like the blob but that's ok.

Add flour until you're able to form the dough into a ball. Note that your hands will get covered in dough (I had to wash my hands 2 or 3 times during the kneading!)

Roll it out until it's roughly 1" thick.

Flour your pan or baking tray. I decided to use a 9" cake pan, since it closely resembled what the original post used.

Now here's where I changed it a bit... instead of cutting into the bread and then putting it in the pan, put it in the pan first. Trust me, it won't be easy transferring it and if you do all the cutting and poking first, you'll just have to redo it. So, put the dough in the pan, make a shallow cross-cut over the dough, and poke the top using a fork.

Put it in your oven for 35-45 minutes (every oven is different so just keep an eye on it) but 5-10 minutes before you take it out, flip the bread over in the pan and cook the underside to darken the bottom. I took it out at 35 minutes and it looked great! I recommend putting butter or jam on it as soon as it comes out of the oven and eating it with some corned beef and cabbage! Slainte!

TOTAL COSTS: About $10 (if you don't have any of the ingredients - prices from Vons)
$3.29 for flour and whole wheat flour
$1.59 for baking soda
$.99 for butter
$2.39 for buttermilk
Oat bran optional

25 minutes of prepping
35 minutes of baking

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 2 out of 5
It's not as simple as pouring ingredients in a pan and sticking it in the oven, but it's pretty close. You might have some difficulty with the kneading because it will be very wet at first but keep adding flour until you're ready to put it in the pan!

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