Sunday, March 13, 2011
I'm not Catholic, yet I'm four days into the annual Lenten fast, which basically means making a concerted effort to eat more simply, cut back on sweets, and avoid snacks.
Four days down, 36 long days to go.
Lent is an interesting time in our house. I always ask my husband what he is going to do for Lent and remind him of the Ash Wednesday service times, trying to be the supportive spouse of a devout Catholic man, even though growing up, my family didn't observe Lent (but we never missed an Easter, as my childhood memories of many foil-covered chocolate bunnies can attest).
I know I'm not "obligated" to partake in Lent, but the straight-edger in me likes the idea of fasting, taking a moment to throttle back, simplify, observe, cleanse. The lull of late winter feels like the best time for it, too, being quiet and introspective before the energy and vibrancy of spring arrives. There must be historical/cultural precedence for fasting during this season as well; after all, back in the days before grocery stores, the larder probably got pretty sparse around this time. But it's a test of will, especially when your body is programmed to inhale a couple miniature Snicker bars every weekday at 3 pm.
I made this bread with St. Patty's Day in mind, but the buttermilk sitting in my fridge wasn't going to last another week, so I whipped this together on a recent weeknight. It's a quick bread, so no yeast involved, with a mild sweetness instead of that overpowering sugar saturation of most quick breads. And this bread arrived at a perfect time, considering our mission to eat simply right now. Bread + cheese + apple = a pleasant, easy-to-pack lunch for Yours Truly.
PS - Thanks to Sarah (aka The Leftoverist) for the inspiration to simplify.
Not-So-Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite, it's "not-so-Irish" because true Irish soda bread would NEVER include the likes of raisins, caraway, or even sugar. The only change from the original recipe is the whole wheat flour substitution, which added a nice wintry heartiness. Oh, and I added the pan options that you'll see below. The caraway seeds lend a unique flavor, but it pairs perfectly with the cheese and apples.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 and 1/2 cups raisins
1 scant tablespoon caraway seeds
Cheddar cheese, for serving
Tart apples, sliced, for serving
Grease a 10" skillet and line with parchment or wax paper, or select one of the following adaptions:
a) Grease a 9" or 10" cake pan or Springform pan and line with parchment or wax paper. (my adaptation from the original recipe, since I didn't have a 10" skillet)
b) Grease a large baking sheet (my adaption from my adaption, since I then realized I didn't have parchment or wax paper. Without pan sides, the bread will spread into a wider, flatter loaf - still works though).
Blend together in a large bowl flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, and 2 Tablespoons of the melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Don't overmix. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.
Pour batter into prepared pan (or onto prepared baking sheet). Brush top of bread with remaining melted butter. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving with cheese and apples.
Posted by Rhubarb and Venison at 5:08 PM