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Nana’s Kitchen: Irish Soda Bread

Nana’s Kitchen: Irish Soda Bread

Greetings, home cooks, welcome to Nana’s Kitchen,

I am sitting at the computer looking at the snow in my yard. I hope this is the last. I am ready to plant flowers. This year I want the brightest colors to be found. There is a craft called flower pounding that I want to try this summer. Something new to learn. 

I tried something new this week in making Irish Soda Bread. I have never made this before and enjoyed the experience. This is not hard. Great for a beginning bread maker. This may be a good presentation for a family dinner, serving it a little warm with softened butter or maybe a flavored butter. Honey?

This week is St. Patrick’s Day thus the Irish Soda Bread. It is said my family has some Irish way back. Have no idea. But do we not all claim some Irish on St. Patrick’s Day? 

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every March 17th. It is the anniversary death of St. Patrick in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. Today we see parades, music, food, and the wearing o’ the green as part of the celebration. New York even dyes a river green.

Some dishes you may have heard of as common to the celebration include: lamb stew, Coddle, cock-a-leekie soup, chowders, Shepherd’s pie, scotch eggs, stew’s with Guinness, many seafood dishes and breads as well as a little Irish whiskey along the way. 

The Irish Soda Bread is a rustic no knead quick bread. Yeast is not used in the process. It is quick enough to make every day if you liked. The recipes do vary a little with some including (or not) sugar, fruit, or oatmeal. But the one important ingredient is buttermilk. 

Irish Soda Bread:

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoon cold butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
Optional ingredients: oats, raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, caraway seeds or bits of dried fruit.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
Add cold butter to the flour and with your finger tips rub the butter into the flour mixture.
A bread crumb like consistency should result.
Whisk the egg and buttermilk together.
Make a well in the center of the flour and add most, but not all of the buttermilk mixture.
With your hand pull the flour and buttermilk together until a soft but not too sticky dough forms.
Add seeds, raisins etc. at this point, if you chose, and pull into dough.
Add remaining liquid only if needed.
Pull the dough into a ball and place on a floured surface. 
Shape into a round. About 1 1/2 inches thick, 8×8 inches round or there about.
Place on baking sheet.
Mark a cross on the top with a knife as this is tradition.
Brush with a little leftover buttermilk mix on top of dough and sprinkle with a few oats if you like.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
Then DROP heat to 400 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

To learn more about bread making and pastries I highly recommend “Bigger Bolder Baking” with Gemma Stafford. She is the source of this recipe. Her videos are a rich source of learning.

You may not need all of the buttermilk/egg mixture as different flours absorb the liquid differently. It Is easy to add but hard to take away. 
I added a few raisins just because I like them.
Used parchment paper on baking tray. 
Be sure to lower the temperature after the first 15 minutes.
Slices better after cooled a while.
This is not a sweet recipe as there was no added sugar.
Tasted great with some strawberry freezer jam.
May the Leprechauns Be Near You

May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along the way.
And may all the Irish angels,
Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day.

– Irish Blessing

Have a blessed Sunday. 

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