Soda Bread and Dreams of Ireland

I tend to organize my memories by meals. Chances are if I’ve been on a journey of any kind, I can remember what I ate every day of the trip. I guess it comes along with having a food- oriented brain– when I’m out of my everyday life, flavors and conversations had around the table become that much more vivid. Something about being away from other distractions and belongings brings the focus back to the basics of human livelihood.

Right now, I’m waiting for grad school classes to begin in a seemingly unending fog of hot, humid and stagnating L.A. air. In this environment and time of year that does not spark my appetite or excitement to be in the kitchen, I find my thoughts escaping┬áto the crisp air and fluorescent green of the Irish countryside where I wandered for two weeks back in March. In addition to the friendliest people you can imagine, Ireland offers some of the freshest, most scrumptious, made-from-scratch meals. It seems to be the Isle’s best-kept secret. Shhhh..don’t tell or the small towns will become more overrun with tourists than they already are. In each tiny village, my friends and I enjoyed grass-fed steak, farm-fresh chicken, raw oysters, and the most brilliantly yellow butter, all for undeniably reasonable prices.

Among all this variety, one staple remains constant with each meal in Ireland : soda bread. Crunchy on the outside, soft and often gooey on the inside and made to be used as a vehicle for the mango-colored butter. When I returned from my trip, I set about coming up with my own version so that I could mix up a batch, brew a cup of Irish Breakfast tea and indulge in dreams of cow-spotted hills, pub music sessions and Guinness stew.

This recipe is so quick and easy. You only have to dirty one bowl. Bake a loaf and enjoy with butter, jam and lemon curd. Or as a savory treat alongside soup!

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Ingredients:

2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

2 Tbs. coarse corn meal

1/4 cup oat bran

1.5 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

8 Tbs. unsalted Kerrygold butter, chilled

1.5 cups yogurt without pectin (Trader Joe’s sells one) or Keifer

 

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a flat cookie sheet with butter.

In a large bowl, combine flours, oats, oat bran, cornmeal, salt, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Cut butter into small pieces and use your hands to combine it with the dry ingredients until it is pea size (just like making a pie crust).

Pour in yogurt or keifer and mix dough into a ball. Add more yogurt if it’s too dry. Just enough to bring it together. Place ball of dough on cookie sheet. It absolutely does not have to look perfect. Just like a semi-round, sort of lumpy on the top loaf of bread. Bake for 35-40 minutes until top and bottom are golden brown. Center should be very moist.

Let cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and serve warm.

 

 

 

 

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