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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sour milk is our friend. Chef Nick's Irish Soda Bread.

Here's how it plays out. I love dairy. Ice-cream, cheese, cream, milk and cookies. Alas, as I've grown somewhat older I have become increasingly lactose intolerant. I buy milk to use in some recipe and it just sits there and turns. I know this happens at your house, I've been there. Please don't throw it out if it smells a little funny, sour milk is really useful.
 What's happening is that the lactose is turning into lactase, an acid that we can use with another common kitchen item to make a powerful leavening agent. Use sour milk as a substitute for anything that calls for buttermilk. Screw the stores. Reuse. 
 One of my favorite recipes (yes I bake ok?) I make one for myself and I always give one away, either a neighbor, coworker or friend. Spread the love. The family has to wait until Christmas for theirs.
Crusty, crumbly and absolutely delicious.

Irish Soda Bread:

Mise en place:

4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
pinch Cardamom
1/4 cup butter (half a stick) No you may not use margarine, holy shit I can't believe it tastes like the bottom of my foot.
1 3/4 cup sour milk*
1 egg*
1/2 cup raisins, dried currants, dried cranberries. You decide.
A clean level surface, either a counter top or large cutting board.
a small amount of flour for dusting
a large mixing bowl and a baking sheet, or cake pan or silmat..whatever
* room temperature. Just leave them out for a few hours, it's ok I promise.

Put all the dry items in a large bowl. Flour first ok? Combine.

Plop the butter right into the center and using your hands rub it into the flour stuff until it looks like cornmeal. I SAID USE YOUR HANDS !! I can see you trying to use your big fancy mixer, I will end you now.
What we're doing is dispersing the fat all through your finished product and the best way to do that is by feel.

   see it really does look like cornmeal

OK time for the wet stuff. The reason the milk and egg need to be at room temp is so that we don't shock the dough. Now, empty the contents of the eggshell into the milk and beat together slightly. Dump this all at once into the bowl and start mixing. 

Once all combined add your dried fruit. Mix again and turn out onto kneading surface. 

  hey Nick, is that the Swedish Chef from the muppets? Why yes, yes it is. Are we going to have a problem?

Keep some flour between the board and the dough as well as on your hands, the dough is sticky. Don't worry about adding too much flour during kneading. The recipe is very forgiving. Knead for a few minutes just until it smoothes out a little. Divide into two rounds and shape.  Using a very sharp knife cut the traditional cross on the top. Brush with melted butter if you like. I do but it's not crucial. 

Pre-heat your oven to 375. Place on baking surface, whichever you prefer. I use a 10" cake pan. You won't need to grease or flour. There's plenty in the dough itself. 

Bake for 40 minutes, test by thumping the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done. Cool on rack completely before slicing. I had mine today with some fantastic Peach and Raspberry preserves one of my friends sent me all the way from Utah. Thanks Becky-boo !!!

That's it. Remember to share. Go get your grub on. Ciao

  My baking shirt. Why, what do you wear?


  1. This looks like fun to make! I, BSCOOKS have never made Irish Soda Bread. This may be shocking but it's true!! :) Something new for me to try. BTW I am going to make Chocolate Guinness Cake for Forth of July Party!

    Thanks for sharing Nick!! :))

  2. It's super easy, been making it for years