Friday, March 18, 2005

Happy Celtic History Month

In our family, St. Patirck's Day begins on February 15th and ends on March 31, or Easter, whichever comes first. We play all all the Irish music CD's we have, over and over and over, until everyone but me goes mad and pulls out their hair. And we eat this recipe for Soda Bread frequently:

Bob McGuire's Soda Bread

1.75 C. buttermilk
1 beaten egg
.25 C. melted, cooled butter

Mix the above. Set aside.

4 scant C. unbleached (King Arthur) flour or 3 C. unbleached, 1 C. fresh whole wheat
1/2 C. white sugar
1 T. caraway seeds
2 C. golden raisins
1 t. baking powder

MIx in large bowl. Add the liquid ingredients, stir carefully but thoroughly. Then stir in, quickly,

1 t. baking SODA.

The dough should be rather soft, like a tender biscuit dough, not too stiff. That is why I said scant cups of flour, but it should not be actually wet. If it is, carefully and quickly add a tad more flour.

Pat into a 10" circle, slash a cross about 1/4 inch deep across the top, and bake at 325 for about an hour. I use a baking stone, but have used a cookie sheet successfully in the past - be sure to grease it if you do.

Test by thumping it , if it sounds hollow, it is done. Put it on a rack, and cover it with an irish linen tea towel, and cool it to room temperature. Cut and serve with strawberry jam and strong tea. It should have a crunchy crust and a tender crumb.

For non-feast days, my Grandmother Annie made this without the fruit, and called it "Milk Bread", a staple in her house. She actually would rather have eaten cream puffs and napoleans, but such is life...