the sweet bee sting

Friday, May 21, 2010

Five Senses Friday and Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread
7:19 PM

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Seeing: Just put down my copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls that I bought today, another Jane Austen horror-spoof meant to be the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Having read Ms. Austen before, I must admit that I find these spin-offs to be very entertaining.

Hearing: The oven beeping, telling me it’s time to rotate my Irish soda bread, and a little girl down the street practicing her flute on the front porch. It would be cute if I hadn’t already listened to it five days in a row.

Tasting: Dried dates that I'm snacking on.

Smelling: Aforementioned bread baking away.

Feeling: Comfy; it’s not even dark and I’m already in my pajamas, ready to hunker down for the night and watch The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from McCall's Cooking School books
Yields one loaf

I've recently acquired three volumes of the McCall's Cooking School books from a friend, and this is the first recipe I landed on while flipping through one of the volumes. Irish Soda Bread has always been one of my most favorite breads, plus it's incredibly easy to make (short and simple ingredient list!) and tasty. Many recipes have the addition of raisins. I leave them out; I'm just not a fan of raisins in bready things, but you can add them if you like.

Interestingly enough, nearly all of the bread recipes in the book call for 'unsifted' flour, so I left mine unsifted. I found that I still had to add a half cup of flour each time I made it, otherwise the dough ended up being far too wet to knead. Also, if you don't have buttermilk on hand there's this neat trick where you can add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using it as buttermilk. I used this method, since we didn't have any buttermilk in the house. Everything else I kept the same. Now if only I had some clotted cream to go with it...

1 cup unsifted, unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins, optional (yuck)
1 tablespoon of melted butter
vegetable shortening or butter for greasing

Preheat oven to 375°F. If making your own buttermilk, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 1/2 cups of milk. Stir and set aside for 5 minutes. Grease a baking sheet with a solid vegetable shortening, like Crisco, or butter.

In a large bowl whisk white flour, 2 cups of wheat flour (reserving 1/2 cup for kneading), salt, baking powder and soda and sugar together. Pour buttermilk into flour mixture all at once and use a fork (as the book says) or a wooden spoon to mix gently together, or until all dry ingredients are moistened. I just skip the utensils and use my hands.

Gather mixture into a ball and transfer to a floured surface. Knead in the remaining 1/2 cups of flour, being careful not to over-knead, or about 1 minute. Pat dough into a circle about 7 inches wide and score the top into quarters, or with a large 'X'. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to a wire rack to cool and brush the top with the melted butter. Slice and devour!

Wrap in plastic wrap and keep for about 5 days.

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Love, Cristina

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