Monday, March 17, 2014

Soda Bread, Not just for St. Patrick's Day

The origin for Soda Bread is a little fuzzy as shown in this excerpt from Wikipedia:
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 AustriaPolish 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.
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.

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:
4 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons white sugar 1 cup Raisons
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 Tbls Caraway Seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder 1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup undated butter, softened 1/4 cup buttermilk
        1 Tbls Vanilla
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 #1::::: When you take the bread out of the oven, take some butter out of the fridge also so it is nice and soft and spreadable.
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)


Doris said...

I tried making that once. Just like every bread I ever tried to make, it was flat and terrible!! HA, maybe it was the salt!!

Happy St. Patty's Day to you!

Charlotte Wilson said...

I have been waiting for this recipe. I never knew that it had butter and sugar (and raisin, fruit) in it. This sounds delicious. Too late to make today but tomorrow is another day.
Thanks and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A Quiet Corner said...

I just told the Pres about the salt...he never heard that before!!! ...:)JP

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

It was delicious and now that it's all gone, I'm wondering if you will make another one, soon (pretty please.

DeniseinVA said...

That sounds delicious Grenville! I made some too today but it didn't have caraway seeds. That sounds a great addition and will try your recipe next time I make it.

Anonymous said...

Soda bread isn't that common here in Sweden. I think we all have made it every now and again but I've read that the sda destroyes the vitamine B so it shouldn't be eaten too often. But I love scones and I get vitamine B anyway :-)

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

AHHHH Yes,,, Salt is a killer as is hard water from our well. Charlotte what are you waiting for.... go bake some!!!!!
Yes my Princess, i will make more just for you (and me).
Don't worry Christer, something kills everything so Eat Drink And be merry!!!!!
To all who like the recipe, please copy it (i did) and add a little something.

William Kendall said...

So that's the origins of soda bread...

It's been awhile since I've had some.


Just had some soda bread myself for breakfast! I'm so impressed you made your own, looks scrumptious:)

Daisy said...

That looks yummy!

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