Irish soda bread

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I started to prepare lunch this morning, then realized there is no bread in the house. I hate it when I have to stop doing something and run to the supermarket instead. At the same time my son got up late and began looking curiously around the kitchen, sticking his head in the fridge and the pantry, asking me what’s for breakfast. Well, I thought lunch can wait. I am going to make Irish soda bread! It has been long due in my list of breads I’d love to do and since there was a hungry boy waiting for me, I thought now or never. I am so in love with all things Irish, to the point that I gave my son an Irish name-Patrick but I’ve never attempted to make some Irish specialities. My bubbliness almost froze when I looked at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-irish-soda-bread/  and saw that Irish soda bread needed buttermilk. Oh no, again, I thought, I am going to deal with lack of ingredients and limitations. No shopping please! My quick research however led me to some advise what buttermilk could be substituted with. Yeyyy, I am becoming the queen of substitutions ;-)! Here is how to do it  http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-quick-easy-buttermilk-substitute-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-185757 

The ladies from Kitchn are fantastic, they have ideas for just about everything!. When you get the buttermilk ready separate a 1 tablespoon of it and set aside.

Ingredients:

300 ml buttermilk

100 g butter, melted

5 cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 sachet baking powder

Raisins- optional. I do not like raisins in my bread and omitted them.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour the melted butter, stir to create coarse crumbs. Whisk separately the egg and the buttermilk and add to the mixture. With the help of a wooden spoon or with your hands mix the ingredients so that a soft dough is formed. Shape it into a ball but do not overwork the dough, just form it gently into a round, slightly domed loaf. Place in a pan covered with parchment paper lightly sprinkled with flour. With a sharp knife cut two criss-crossing lines through the centre of the loaf, brush it thoroughly with the spoon of buttermilk, which was set aside, mixed with a tablespoon of melted butter. I couldn’t resist adding more butter 🙂

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Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack (if you manage not to snap up a piece while still hot :-)! Your kitchen will smell absolutely heavenly!) and serve with butter.

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Baguettes anyone?

I started this blog with a cookie recipe and although I am a big fan of sweets it is the different types of bread that I am obsessed with. I find the smell of freshly baked breads irresistible and if they are having a golden crust I cannot help but  taste it immediately, even if it is just out of the oven. My tongue is often burned but my teeth are still all right, thanks 🙂

There is something about kneading bread that gives me enormous joy, I am fascinated by the aromas and flavours involved and the process of turning a piece of dough into a bread to be savoured by family and friends. Have you noticed, as soon as you serve a freshly baked bread everybody smiles and looks forward to tasting it? No one can resist it, there is something magic and universal about breads. In my Bulgarian culture we say: ” Nobody is bigger than bread”. True that!

I like the rustic types of breads, no ideal forms, a little shabby looks but with a flavour that combines thick crust and a stringy texture.  For me, this is best illustrated by the French baguettes. I just adore them!  Maybe it was the sandwiches in my childhood prepared by my mum  or the anticipation while waiting in a queue at the bakery (yes we had that back in the day in Bulgaria) to get my baguette and run home. Well, with half of it eaten to my mom’s  amusement. I still remember vividly  the aroma and flavour of these baguettes!

So my son got back home for his Christmas break from University and as overjoyed as I am always by his returns home from the UK, I decided to make baguettes to celebrate the family reunion. Let me first say-it was my first attempt although I have made other types of bread many times. I looked up several blogs and stopped at www.kulinarno-joana.com. Thank you Joanna!

So roll up your sleeves and get started bread lovers!

You will need:

700 grams flour. I used 500 type.

2 coffee spoons salt

1 small package of active dry yeast

500 millilitres of lukewarm water.

These products provide for 4 baguettes with length of about 40 cm.

Now, if you want to experience the real French taste and uniqueness of this bread you have to give it some time. No short-cuts. So there you go-baguettes will be on your table for two days. Yes, two. But it is worth the wait, trust me.

So, mix the above products in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. I always put the yeast first in the water, mix it and give it 3 to 4 minutes to dissolve and just start the process of bubbling. Then add the salt and flour and form a dough. Remember it doesn’t have to be ideal. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. It has to be soft and elastic but if sticky add a little flour. Put the kneaded dough in a bowl coated with a little oil, cover with a plastic sheet and let it in the fridge over night.

The next day while the dough is still cold start forming the baguettes by dividing the dough into 4 pieces. Work the dough pieces into rolls which will fit into your baking sheet. Do not overwork and press the dough too much because you want to preserve its airy structure. Lay the baguettes into floured kitchen towels folded as in the picture below to preserve the form of the baguettes. Let them rise from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Their volume has to almost double.

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Carefully place your baguettes into the baking sheet sprinkled with corn or whole wheat flower. No oil. Just before inserting the baguettes in the oven cut them with a sharp knife as in the picture bellow.

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Put in the preheated to 280°C oven-this is the maximum of my fan oven. As soon as the baguettes are inside lower the temperature to 230°C. Bake for about 35 minutes until you get that magic golden crust. Let them cool completely, maybe 30 to 40 minutes! I know, I know..its not that easy to resist :-). I admit, I cracked one of my baguettes to taste/study it thoroughly and I enjoyed it!

Happy bread kneading :-)!

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