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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Irish Soda Bread


Irish Soda Bread Posted by Hello

I have never had Irish Soda bread in my life, and wouldn't know for a minute if what I made replicated the real deal. This recipe was taken from 101cookbooks.com - a food site I love feasting my eyes on. It was an attractive recipe because i was looking for something to make with my near expiry butter milk,and it was also a loaf of bread that didn't seem to require much time to make. At 10pm, this was an important consideration!

Unfortunately, i didn't have as much buttermilk as what was required - I was short of a whole 3/4 cup full of it which probably had a lot to do with the end result which was extremely dry. I also didn't bake it in a loaf pan as suggested, but 'free form' in two dough shapes.

Later, doing a search on the internet, i found that buttermilk can be substituted with a teaspoon of lemon with a cup of milk - or alternatively, a tsp of vinegar with milk. I'm not sure whether this is a passable substitute, but if it is, it's going to save me a lot of money buying cartons of buttermilk i never seem to be able to finish.

Having said that, i bought salted butter specially to slather on the bread as it came out of the oven - and have to say that it still didn't last very long (fresh bread straight out of the oven , no matter how bad - is still wonderful) - hence the reason I don't have a picture of the 'untouched' loaf. I was down to the last two slices before i realised I hadn't taken a picture yet!

Below is the recipe if anyone cares to try it. I suggest that it's a great one for bread beginners to start with - no kneading necessary, no long waiting period - but warning: you have to like the coarse taste of whole wheat. If you're into fluffy white breads, this is not for you:

Irish Mum's Brown Bread
3 cups whole wheat bread flour (Ross says: this is best when the flour is coarse as opposed to the whole wheat flour you get here which is fully milled. Heidi says: I used a standard whole wheat bread flour which seemed to be pretty finely milled, because that's all I could find, even at Rainbow Foods.)

1 cup unbleached white bread flour (Heidi: I used King Arthur brand)
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4+ cups buttermilk
2 ounces butter (preferably Kerrygold)
1 egg

Melt the butter over gentle heat.
In a medium-sized bowl lightly beat the egg and then gradually add the buttermilk all the while stirring to incorporate the egg. Beat in the butter.

In another bowl sift and mix the dry ingredients as best you can (not really a prob if you can't find the coarse flour), and then stir in the buttermilk mixture. If you are using a baking tin the mixture should be on the wetter side - (heidi: like a thick brownie mix, something you could pour into the tin, not scoopable by hand really). If your dough is too dry, mix in small splashes of buttermilk until it is the right consistency.

Cook at 400F for 50 minutes on the middle rack. You want to hear a sort of hollow sound when you knock on the bottom of the tin. Resist the urge to take the bread out too soon, or the middle of the bread won't get cooked through.

Makes 1 loaf.

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