Oh, we were beside ourselves, waiting for the premiere of Dancing with the Stars to begin. We have busied ourselves, though, with St. Patrick's Day fare as this is a high holy day for our family. And then, as big a disappointment as could be leveled at us after the brisket meltdown occurred: The women do not dance until tomorrow night. We will have to have yet another feast for our cause celebre then. Break out the iceberg lettuce and water, we're having a party!
I have two recipes to share with you regarding Soda Bread, which, heretofore, will always be considered Dancing food. Let's say, this will go according to your taste. The first is my Mom's, and it is a very dense whole grain affair and it is not sweet. This is the perfect sandwich bread for a Waldorf Chicken Salad, as it is served at Stephanie's on Newbury in Boston. I would even add some walnuts, in that case. The second is one Dori adores. It is lighter and a white bread. Both are fabulous. But, whatever you do, my Mom cautions you, resist the urge to try to bake more than one loaf in an oven at once, this will yield disastrous (read Brisket) results. Finally, if you have an seasoned, broad, cast iron skillet hanging around, that's your girl for baking these loaves in the traditional method. Failing that, a baking sheet. Forget trying to put these in your stand mixer, it just won't work. Use a wooden spoon or your hands but do not overwork these batters. And now, having produced four loaves for this glorious day, I am off to the freezer. Pick one, and enjoy.
Mom's Irish Soda Bread
Courtesy of Mom, 2008
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbls. sugar
1 tbls. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbls. unsalted butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup + 2 tbls. buttermilk
(1 tbls. caraway seeds if you care for them, we do not.)
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Set one rack in the middle of the oven. If you are using a cast iron pan, butter it generously. If you are using a baking sheet, you could put down foil or parchment. I have forgotten to do so without consequence, however.
Over a large bowl, sift (in a strainer) the dry ingredients: Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients just until it disappears. Add the raisins (and caraway, nut, whathaveyou) and combine.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and egg and whisk to combine. Pour into the flour/ butter mixture in the large bowl and combine with a bit of elbow grease and a wooden spoon or spatula. It will be very heavy and quite sticky. With your hands, shape it into a round loaf. Place
into your pan, and with a large knife, heavily dusted with flour, cut a wide, deep cross in the
top of the loaf.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15 or 20 minutes more, or until a knife interested in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool, as long as you are able, on a rack.
Someone else's Mom's Soda Bread
Recipezaar.com via Dori, 2008
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint sour cream
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
3/4 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a small bowl beat eggs and stir in sour cream. Add the egg and sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. Batter will be very thick. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and stir well with wooden spoon or knead in with your hands. Place batter in a greased 9 inch springform pan. Dust the top with enough flour so that you can pat the batter like a bread dough evenly in the pan without it sticking to your hands. With a knife make a shallow crisscross on the top. Bake for 50 minutes.