I come from an English family. My ancestors have a bit of Welsh on my dad's side, and a lot of eastern European on my mother's side. But to the best of my knowledge, there is nary a drop of Irish blood in my family tree. I have married into an Irish (many generations back) family, and thought I ought to live up to my new-ish name and get into the spirit of St. Patrick's day. Beyond the traditional way of doing so, which is to drink oneself into a stupor.
So today I tried my hand at baking soda bread. It is named for its scientific component - the aspect that makes it rise, which is baking soda. I don't bake a lot of yeast breads because of a completely irrational fear of working with yeast (which I do overcome from time to time), so this bread was right up my alley. And this recipe for it was perfect - about as easy as it gets. It did split a bit in the oven, but I rather like the pac-man shape it took on as a result. It's crusty on the outside, fairly tender yet dense on the inside. To top it all off, it's delicious! It's just begging for a smear of butter and apricot jam, or a slice of sharp cheese.
This is easiest in a food processor, but you can mix by hand if you need to.
Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
makes 1 round loaf
4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt (more if necessary)
1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner, otherwise grease lightly with a neutral oil or baking spray.
2. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a food processor (fitted with the dough blade, if you have one, but the regular blade is okay). Process to combine. Add the yogurt and process for about 30 seconds, until the dough starts to clump together. If it is not moist enough, add more yogurt. You want the dough to be mostly cohesive and soft, but not too sticky.
3. Turn out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and use your hands to form a round loaf. Slash the top with a knife (if you don't do this deeply enough, you'll get a split like I did, but that's okay!). Bake for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you thump the bottom. Let cool before cutting into slices or wedges.
Enjoy, and happy St. Patrick's day!