Soda Bread

Some people might think, what exactly is soda bread? Well I was one, up until a year or so ago. Living in the Pocono’s (Pennsylvania) St. Patrick’s day is probably one of the biggest celebrated holidays. (Seriously, its a pretty big deal) Irish Americans are second in population only to German so it would seem that a good deal of us probably do have “Irish roots”. Its one of the holidays that I appreciate sharing with my family. Soda  bread just seems like another fading tradition that should be held onto! So in the efforts to preserve these staples I’ve made my variation of Irish soda bread. This is not actually “traditional” because its got additives that were not normally staples in the old Irish kitchens.  This is however closer than most recipes, still slightly embellished but recipes with raisins, nuts lots of sugar and eggs etc. those are more fruit cakes than breads. This is a variation of tradition that is still close to the original idea. I wanted something that would be proper to serve with dinner but could also be a perfect carrier for cold cuts. What makes a sandwich better than home baked bread? Not much, well maybe bacon but thats a different post folks!

Almost Traditional Irish Soda bread:
If you want this recipe to closer to true Irish tradition you would leave out the caraway, brown sugar and do not brush it with egg. The butter I’m still unsure about, I’ve googled until my googler wont go anymore and I’ve found that vegetable shortening specifically is mentioned but there is nothing mentioned of butter or lard.

2 cups all purpose un-bleached flour
2 cups white wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (cold and cut into cubes)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 cups sour milk (or buttermilk)

*1 beaten egg for brushing (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, if you’ve got a cast iron pan or baking stone preheat it with the oven.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda and brown sugar. Whisk the dry ingredients together with a fork or whisk, and cut the butter cubes into the mixture. You can use your fingers, a fork or even do this in the food processor. Slowly stir the sour milk into the dry mixture and combine the caraway seeds. Knead in the bowl until mostly combined. Place onto a floured surface and knead together until its a somewhat smooth ball. (really its just a few turns, theres no need to over do it). Once you’ve formed it into a ball (or two) take your pan from the oven and place a light amount of flour in it, just enough so the bread will not stick. (you can also just use a piece of parchment paper) Place the formed ball onto the pan and slash the top in a cross shape, about 1/2″ deep or deeper if you want to just break it into 4 pieces. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt. (I made this batch with deeper cuts so I can just break it into 4 pieces and serve with soup.)

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until your bread is cooked, the inside temperature should be about 190 degrees, or it will sound hollow when tapped on. Serve hot with your favorite stew, slice it with good butter for morning toast!

SOUR MILK:
To make sour milk place 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of milk and rest at room temperature 5-10 minutes, it should curdle somewhat quickly. I use cider vinegar because I like the flavor.

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