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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

I love Irish Soda Bread.
Lizzard Loves homemade Irish Soda Bread
It gives me something to look forward to in the dog days of Chicago winters..... At least this year we've gotten fresh snow pretty frequently. Often in February & March it is cold & gray. Rainy & gray. Gray on gray on gray. Yuck. Buuuuuuuut: warm Irish Soda Bread baking in your over is decidedly not gray! It is a lovely blonde color and the smell. Oh the smell. It is enough to help you forget the gray outdoors!

What exactly is Irish Soda Bread anyway? Well, quick breads use baking soda & an acid to rise vs using yeast. and Irish Soda Bread is a quick-bread. Beyond that I'm going to direct your attention to The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (I love that there is a website for everything!)

Yet another reason I love Irish Soda Bread; it is something my Mom made for my Dad when I was a kid. My Mom is the best cook I know and would often make things because she knew my Dad liked them. It was one way I came to learn that cooking for people can be a way to show you love them. I do wonder if that is why I love to cook so much? Because the time, thought & effort I pour into the food is then presented to those I care about. Menus are chosen with an eye for what might please my family, friends & particularly Chris. I often give gifts of food for the same reasons; it is a way for me to show someone I care enough about them to spend the time preparing something just for them. Well, enough of my ramblings.....if you know me or have been reading much of my blog you already know how much I love to cook. Now you know a little bit more about why I love it so much.
Lizzard Loves the ingredients for Irish Soda Bread**

Irish Soda Bread
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp ground flax seed (also called flax meal. You can omit this if you don't feel like buying it; I add it for the omega 3s but also because I've found it helps keep the bread moist if you plan on eating it over the course of several days. Chris & I are not such big eater that we can eat a loaf of bread in 1-2 days, so the extra moisture from the flax helps keep the bread yummy for 3-4 days)
3/4 c raisins (or dried currants/cranberries/cherries. Use what you like!)
1 egg, beaten well
1 c buttermilk, plus more for brushing
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
cornmeal for dusting
Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) for sprinkling

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the bottom of a cast iron pan (or dutch oven) with cornmeal & set it aside.
2. Melt the coconut oil in your microwave and set it aside to cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (including the dried fruit. Coating the dried fruit in your flour mixture will help it to "float" in the dough rather than sink to the bottom of your dough!)
4. Add the beaten egg (it is important to beat the egg before your add it to the dough because you risk overworking your dough if you need to break the yolk while mixing it into your dry ingredients. Overworking this dough will give you a tough bread. I do not like my bread tough :) then the buttermilk & melted coconut oil
5. Mix until a dough forms, or all the wet ingredients have been incorporated into the dry.
6. Lightly flour your counter, or a cutting board and turn the dough out onto it.
7. Fold/gently knead as little as possible until the dough comes together
8. Place in the cast iron skillet or dutch oven, brush with buttermilk & sprinkle with the turbinado sugar (go crazy if you like it to be sweet, go light or omit entirely if you'd like the bread to be less sweet) I think the sugar/buttermilk combo gives a nice crunch/crustiness to the top of the loaf so I always include it.
9.Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown
10. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
11. Enjoy the fruits of your labor, ideally with a cup of coffee and some melting butter (on the bread, not in your coffee ;) Admittedly that is my ideal........I suppose a cup of tea would be much more authentic......but I don't love tea like I love coffee. Such is life.

Lizzard Loves homemade Irish Soda Bread toast & coffee
**Please don't judge.......I forgot to put the flax & turbinado sugar in the photo! I love blogging; but I had already begun to prepare the bread when I realized I omitted those ingredients & I didn't have the energy to go back & redo it

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