Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Irish Soda Bread... with a twist

For a St. Patrick's Day dinner... well... here's a picture...

...I made Irish Soda Bread for the first time. Well... that got me hooked. Soda bread is so quick and easy to make, it's out of the oven and slathered with butter in one hour flat. Since then, I've been experimenting with different flavours, including the addition of Saskatchewan-grown caraway seeds or ground mahlab (a sweet Middle Eastern spice made from ground cherry pits).

Incidentally, Irish soda bread with raisins is called Spotted Dog.

Not Quite Irish Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all purpose flour (or 3, with 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 tbsp. sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp ground mahlab or whole caraway seeds
2 cups buttermilk

Hold back 1/2 cup flour. Blend the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour in buttermilk. Mix quickly with a fork and then your fingers. Turn onto a floured surface and knead by hand just until it holds together and is no longer sticky, 1-2 minutes. Add the extra 1/2 cup flour as needed to flour your hands and prevent sticking. Place the ball of dough on a baking sheet and press to flatten the top. Slash with a knife, cutting about 1 inch deep. I find that if I do not slash deep enough, the centre of the bread may be uncooked. Bake at 425F for 35-40 minutes. When cooked, the bread will be quite brown and a good tap on its bottom will sound hollow. You bad bad soda bread...

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