Posted on June 29, 2012
Lettin’ the Fairies Out – Irish Soda Bread
If you have been reading along recently, then you already know I’ve been on a baking kick. In the previous blog, A non-additive baking weekend, I talked about baking bread to avoid having a million ingredients in my simple baked bread.
About four weeks ago, I went on vacation. Before I went, I bought a loaf of bread that I didn’t get a chance to finish, so I stuck it in the fridge. This was a mildly expensive loaf of “healthy” bread. We are talking in the $5-$6 range and all whole grains and nuts, but still “off the shelf” verse from a bakery. Here’s the list of ingredients from the bread that is STILL not molding and perfectly edible, four weeks later….
ANYWAYS – to the better part of the story.
You can click here and listen to Midland Uprising in the background while reading about bread, to set the mood.
While at the last bar, listening to them play, I met a lovely gal from Dublin.
She had a fantastic Gaelic name that I couldn’t even repeat because it sounded so beautiful when she said it and my American pronunciation didn’t quite hit the mark.
I asked her about her time in America and what she thought about the country. And I swear to you the first thing we talked about was bread! She was AMAZED in a scary way at the longevity of our bread. I think she’s too scared to eat it. Can you blame her?
Nothing baked should last that long!
She proceed to rip a part of a tablecloth off and write down her recipe from memory of her Irish Soda Bread. It’s a bread so can make quickly and toss in the oven. There is no yeast, so no time is wasted waiting for it to rise. Just knead and bake! And it doesn’t get any more authentic than this.
Add in all of the ingredients in a bowl and with floured hands “claw” at the dough to knead it together. I found it a little easier to give it a rough mix with a wooden spoon first, then proceed with my hands.
I made it into a patty like a pancake (but much thicker) on a floured surface. THEN – my favorite part.
“Cut an ‘X‘ in the bread with a knife, to let the fairies out, while it bakes.”
That was the most vivid and magical baking term I’ve ever heard. You must also remember the beautiful accent it was spoken in. I love it. So, I made my ‘X.’
I stuck it in the 400 degree oven for about 35 to 45 minutes.
I had a half container of buttermilk left, so I decided to try a second loaf, with half wheat flour. Why not?
But when I opened the oven to put in the second loaf, I saw that the fairies had been released!!
The white loaf was large and fluffy and delightful! It had such an artisan look to it. The slices provided space for the inside of the bread to expand out.
Now, the only thing I DIDN’T think to ask…How the Hell do you know when it’s done??
So, on the previous loaves of bread I made, you just give it a little tap and if it sounds hollow, the you’re good to go. And when you bake Banana bread, you stick a tooth pick in it and if it comes out clean, it’s done.
So – I did both. I gave it a little hot knock and it sounded hard yet hollow. I then gave it a poke with a tooth pick and it came out clean.
Truth be told, I have no idea what the right thing to do is. If anyone has thoughts to this, I would love suggestions!
I took the loaves out and let them cool. I ripped a small piece off of the white bread and I swear it tastes JUST like saltine crackers! AMAZING.
The wheat is a little heavier. It’s a very hearty bread, so you don’t need much to feel full!