Thursday, March 17, 2011

Caraway and confessions...

Bless me Father for today I ate half a loaf of Irish Soda Bread.

This morning on the way to school, the kids reminded me that tonight's corned beef and cabbage dinner would not be complete without that soda bread I make every year. Do I really make it every year...well, if they say so...

Anyway, God forbid that I disappoint, so I ran back home, mixed up a double recipe (miraculously I had almost everything I needed on hand and improvised the rest) and fashioned three loaves: one for us, one for my momma and one for my neighbor. 

As I slid the loaves into the oven, the phone rang. It was that same neighbor calling for the recipe!  How fun that I was able to offer her instead a piping hot loaf delivered to her doorstep. Yep, it's true, I really am that easily amused.

About and hour later the aroma of toasted caraway seeds, sweet juicy raisins and tangy, browned buttery dough wafted out of the oven, crept up the stairs and tapped me on the shoulder, calling me down to take the loaves out to cool.  I had every intention of waiting to eat our little loaf with dinner but, alas, the temptation was too great and I am too weak.  I sliced right in and and slathered a big chunk (the end piece, my favorite) with perfectly softened sweet butter that had been left out on the counter since this morning's green pancake feed.

Yes, I did save some for Charlie and the kids (and maybe just a little more for me). Dad already picked up his loaf to take home to Mom and I'll make the neighbor delivery on the way to pick up Willy from school.  In the meantime, let me shut up and give you the recipe in case you have time to whip up a loaf before your corned beef comes out of its briney bath.  Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Irish Soda Bread

Preheat oven to 350°

Mix and let stand 5 minutes:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (I had 2% and a little cream which worked fine)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Whisk together in a large bowl:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
Cut in with two knives or a pastry blender:
  • 4 Tbs. cold unsalted butter
Mix in:
  • 1 cup wheat bran (I used a combo of oat bran and whole wheat flour which worked fine)
  • 1/8 cup caraway seeds
  • 1 cup raisins

Add the milk/vinegar mixture and mix together until just combined but still sticky. Turn out onto a clean, floured counter and pat into a round dome. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat, sprinkle with a little flour and cut an X into the top of the loaf (about 1/2 inch deep or so).

Bake, turning around half way through, about 70 minutes or so until browned and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Note: I made a double recipe which made three nice, smaller-sized loaves. Bake time was about 50 minutes for the smaller versions.