One recipe and one request for soda bread

  • By Judyrae Kruse Herald Columnist
  • Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

February’s fading fast now, then here comes March, showing every hope of blowing away any leftover post-holiday blues, blahs and those sometimes hard-to-shake downer days.

March, then, brings us spring — or, at least, the promise of its happening. Fall-planted bulbs are up, thriving and soon to burst into bright, mood-elevating bloom. The loons and the humming birds return, however briefly but wonderfully.

And, of course, March always brings us that one single day, every year without fail, when anybody and everybody who wishes can be Irish.

We’re talking St. Patrick’s Day here, the “wearin’ o’ the green,” and, sometimes, the spending of some green, too. Depending, of course, on what you plan for a celebration supper.

But maybe no cash outlay at all, to speak of, if you figure only on making a loaf of Irish soda bread. Which is exactly what Diane Moya of Snohomish hopes to do, and also explains why she writes, “Now that Christmas is past, I decided to write you with a recipe request. During the holidays, my daughter and her husband took my husband and me out to dinner at an Irish pub in Seattle.

“I would love to find a recipe like the pub’s for a whole-wheat and white soda bread. It has a texture like cake. It is simply scrumptious.”

Over to you now, faithful Forum know-how-ers. If you can share a recipe for an Irish soda bread, with a cakelike texture, made with the two flours, please don’t hesitate to send it along to Judyrae Kruse at the Forum, c/o The Herald, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206.

Please remember that all letters and e-mail must include a name, complete address with ZIP code and telephone number with area code. No exceptions and sorry, but no response to e-mail by return e-mail; send to kruse@heraldnet.com.

While we wait to see what might develop from you clever, great-researcher and personal-experience cooks, we might consider this recipe. Taken from my (by now) well-worn copy of “The Irish Heritage Cookbook,” it first appeared in a March 12, 2008 Forum column. It’s remained, since then, not only popular with readers, but makes what I think is a delicious loaf of easy-to-make bread.

On the other hand, having made it several times — but not just lately — it strikes me as rather a sturdy loaf, lovely with soups, stews, salads and such. Sliced, slathered with butter, it’s good to go, also a dandy thing to serve with cheeses and pickles and chutney.

Ah, well — give it a try and see what you think:

Mills Inn (Ballyvourney, County Cork) brown soda bread

2 cups coarse whole-wheat flour, or 1 cup each wheat bran and old-fashioned oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, stir the flours (or wheat bran and oats with the all-purpose flour), salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and sugar together. With a pastry cutter, 2 knives or your fingers, cut or work the butter into the dry ingredients to the texture of coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, mix until a soft dough is formed.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead lightly, just enough to form a large ball. (Flour your hands, if necessary, for easier handling.) Flatten slightly. With a sharp knife, make a cross on the top. Place the dough in the prepared pan and bake until the bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped, 35 to 40 minutes.

Makes 1 loaf.

The next Forum will appear in Friday’s comics pages.

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