Wednesday, March 17, 2010

" Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups - alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat." - Alex Levine

Although the Irish didn't invent Soda Bread it is most often identified with them. The "soft wheat" is the only suitable flour that can grow in Ireland's climate, and when mixed like a traditional dough it doesn't form any gluten like a traditional yeast bread, it does work well with a soda bread recipe.

Good site for history and video of the process of making the breads
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins red or golden
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little flour.
Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky.
When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.
Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.
This bread is best sliced and toasted with a bit of butter and fruit jam or spread with a bit of cream cheese and jam for a heavier bite.
I like to use my cast iron skillets for baking round breads and pizza. The shallow skillet I bought over thirty years ago and the second skillet belonged to my grandmother when she baked and cooked for her family with nine children.

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