Never the less, most of us only think about Soda Bread at this time of the year. That said i made some yesterday for our St. Patrick's Day Dinner. My recipe is considered a standard, with a thousand variations..... well, maybe not that many.During the early years of European settlement of the Americas, settlers and some groups of Indigenous peoples of the Americas used soda or pearl ash, more commonly known as potash (pot ash) or potassium carbonate, as a leavening agent (the forerunner to baking soda) in quick breads. In the US, soda breads were first publicised by Amelia Simmons as a quick and cheap method of bread making in her book American Cookery, published in 1796. By 1824, The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph was published containing a recipe for Soda Cake.In Europe, soda breads began to appear in the mid-19th century when bicarbonate of soda first became available for use as a raising agent. Breads, griddle cakes and scones with bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar or tartaric acid became popular in Austria, Polish cuisine and in the British Isles. Traditional soda bread, eaten in Serbian cuisine, also uses bicarbonate of soda, particularly the traditional česnica (Serbian Cyrillic: Чесница), a soda bread made at Christmas.
The main ingredients are flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, baking (bicarbonate of) soda, sour milk, and a touch of salt.
WARNING!!!!! Go easy with the salt. From the Organic Chem. class you took so long ago, we know that salt crystals have sharp little edges. These little sharp edges are like knives and can slice up the fragile gluten strands formed from the flour. The gluten strands are the foundation of risen bread. Slice them and your bread falls flat.
OK OK OK, enough science for today. The rest of the ingredients are to your taste. I use some vanilla, caraway seeds, raisins (purple or golden), or currents. Cover it with powdered sugar if you like.
The basic mix is combine all the dry stuff together, then combine all the wet stuff together, then mix wet and dry together. form it into a ball, kneed it a little and your done. Simple... So here is the recipe:
INGREDIENTS:4 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup buttermilk4 tablespoons white sugar 1 cup Raisons1 teaspoon baking soda 1 Tbls Caraway Seeds1 tablespoon baking powder 1 egg1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup butter, melted1/2 cup undated butter, softened 1/4 cup buttermilk1 Tbls VanillaDIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet or a round cake pan.2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and butter.3. Stir in raisons and caraway seeds.4. Mix together egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Reserve a small portion of the mix, and stir in the rest of the mixture into the dry mix. Stir until moist.5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet or cake pan.6. With the reserved buttermilk and egg mixture, brush loaf. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.7. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You may continue to brush the loaf with the melted butter while it bakes.8. Remove and cool on rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar is desired.
|Mixed and formed in pan|
|In oven ready for baking|
|Cooling and almost ready for sampling.|
Hint number 2::::: When you put the bread in the oven, you might want to start mixing a second bread so the company will get some. The first one always seems to disappear before it is completely cooled :-))))))
And to close, a wee Irish Blessing:
May there always be work for your hands to do;
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
Grenville (in Green)