Thursday, May 5, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

 The thing about this bread is that, technically, it's a cake. When I arrived here it was winter so I ate a lot of soup, and everywhere soup is served with brown bread. But this bread tasted very different to normal bread, sort of soft and crumbly and sweet - cake-like I thought. It turns out I was right, it is cake. This brown bread is actually soda bread, it doesn't use yeast but baking soda instead. On one of the tours I went on with my mother the bus driver was a real old guy who didn't really have the knack for being a tour guide. He did repeat everything he said at least twice but what he was saying was not so much  history and interesting facts as the really good brown bread that the made at the pub where we were to stop for lunch. I'm not really sure about the nutritional benefit of such bread - it's probably not that much different to normal bread I guess. Like any bread, you always want to eat more, but if you can manage to supress those urges somewhat I'm sure it's a very good addition to your diet. It's very good with butter and honey. And it's really good with soup. It is faster to make than normal bread because there is no rising. It is sort of like muffins - you mix the wet and dry separately and then put the two together, and the texture of the mixture is sort of like muffins too. Of course the final cooked product is nothing like muffins. So everybody here has an adaptation of soda bread, and I was given a recipe from my mate Luke who is also food-obsessed but not to the extent that I am. Now here is my own slight adaptation, which was primarily necessary to convert the measurements into the metric cups that I am accustomed to.

Soda Bread

1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup white flour
1 cup oats
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
50 g pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1 1/3 cup/350 mL buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180 ° C, grease and flour a loaf tin.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients.
Combine the two mixtures, mix briefly, pour into loaf tin and place immediately into hot oven.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. A skewer should come out clean. If you knock on the loaf it should sound hollow, as they say about all bread baking, but I find such rules so hard to define. So - a skewer comes out clean, which it should do after 45 minutes or so. Then leave it to cool for a half hour at least and it will continue to bake a bit on the inside.
And there you go! Soda bread!

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