A Sweet + A Savory Irish Soda Bread – One Recipe, Two Loaves

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“You are the bread and the knife….You are the white apron of the baker…..” Billy Collins “Litany” (excerpt)

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There is little more satisfying than making my own bread….warm, crusty loaves brought forth by my own hands.  The ingredients readied, measured and mixed appeals to the organized part of me. The physical contact of floured hands to soft dough is uniquely seductive as any baker of bread will tell you.

For St. Patrick’s Day week I share two recipes for breads that are simple and quick and delicious. I enjoy making yeast breads, but Irish Soda Breads are my fall-back when time is limited and my attention span runs short whilst the desire for making a good crusty loaf is all that will suffice.

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A bit of sifting and mixing….

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 …….just a few ingredients with little prep time and a beautiful dough is achieved.

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Gently formed into a round loaf with an “X” cut into the top, this sweet loaf is ready for the oven within about 10 to 15 minutes!

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One loaf baked and smeared with marmalade and one without…one sweet and one savory, both warm and ready for a slathering of Irish butter within an hour.

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A Sweet + A Savory Irish Soda Bread - One Recipe, Two Loaves

  • Servings: 2 loaves
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Ingredients for Loaf #1 – Plain and Simple

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Ingredients for Loaf #2 – Marmalade Loaf

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade, divided in half

Directions for Loaf #1 –

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or cover with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, salt & soda together into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Make a “well” in the center and pour in 1 1/2 cup buttermilk and mix gently. Add more buttermilk if dough seems too dry. This dough should be soft and somewhat wet. Using your hands scrape dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  4. Knead dough until smooth and shape into an 8 inch round, slightly flattened disk. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and using a sharp knife dipped in water, make an “X” in the top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until bread is golden brown and crusty. When you remove loaf from the oven and tap on the bottom it should sound hollow. Serve warm in slices with some softened Irish butter.

Directions for Loaf #2 – The process is exactly the same as the above loaf. This one uses yogurt and cream and marmalade.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 and prepared baking sheet.
  2. Sift flour, salt and soda together…make a well in the center….add yogurt, cream and half the marmalade. Stir together quickly. Scrape dough onto a floured work surface and knead a few times.
  3. Shape into a disk & place on a baking sheet. Smear outside of dough with remaining marmalade and cut an “X” in the top.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crusty.

These breads keep well for a few days and are fantastic toasted.

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

Spring Green Tonics

“Spring Tonic”

To celebrate Daylight Savings Time, St. Patrick’s Day and the Spring Equinox

On the third Thursday evening of each month I attend a dinner hosted by friends, Nancy Vienneau and Gigi Gaskins. It is appropriately called “Third Thursday” and is a potluck dinner party made up of many folks whose common love of interesting, healthy, local foods is the common thread.

March’s Third Thursday Dinner fell on St. Patrick’s Day. As you can imagine there were lots of dishes honoring “green”. Spinach, green beans, basil, avocado dishes were plentiful. For this occasion I created a “Spring Tonic”.  With cucumbers & lime juice as the main ingredients this “tonic” was the essence of “all things green”.

This tonic is easy to make, beautiful, refreshing, not too sweet and is like drinking a glass of spring.

What you will need:

To make approximately 1/2 gallon of Spring Tonic:

About 8 fresh cucumbers, 5 or 6 limes juiced, a piece of fresh ginger, 1 to 1.5 cups of raw sugar, 2 to 3 cups of your favorite white rum, about 1 cup of Midori liqueur and seltzer water or club soda. (Adjust to taste as you mix.)

Trim and peel cucumbers. Scrape seeds out with a spoon. Cut into chunks and place in food processor. You may have to do this in batches. Process until cucumbers are pureed with no chunks. Pour puree into a colander lined with two layers of cheesecloth or into a fine sieve sitting over a bowl to catch the cucumber juice. Use a rubber scraper to press the puree through the cheesecloth to get out most of the liquid.

When finished you should have about 3 cups of liquid.

This color of green is so beautiful like spring grass.

To make Gingered Simple Syrup: Peel ginger & cut into slices. Place ginger pieces, raw sugar + 1.2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a low boil, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat to cool.

As I was taking my Spring Tonic to a dinner party I made labels for two 1 qt containers to share the ingredients with guests.

To mix Spring Tonic:

Into each 1 quart container add half of the Cucumber liquid, half of the Midori, half of the fresh Lime Juice, half of the Gingered Simple Syrup with ginger pieces & half of the White Rum. Stir mixture in each container until well mixed. Cover and chill until ready to drink.

To Drink: Place ice in a glass, pour in some Spring Tonic & add a splash of seltzer water, club soda or mineral water with gas.

 

 

….. evening of greens….

While concocting your own “Spring Tonic” you could enjoy some music by the band “Tonic”. Check them out on itunes for a listen.

 

Herbal tonic is used to help restore, tone and invigorate systems in the body or to promote general health and well-being.
“get your motor running….drink Spring tonics!”