Monday, June 15, 2009

Soda Bread

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Reserve 1 tsp of the flour and combine the remaining flour with the salt & baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, and mix gently and quickly with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a solid mass.

3. Oil an aluminum nonstick baking sheet with the canola oil, and place the dough on the sheet. Using a piece of plastic wrap, press and mold the dougt to create a round loaf about 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Sprinkle the reserved teaspoon of flour on top of the loaf and using a serrated knife, make two intersecting 1/4-inch deep cuts across the top surface of the loaf to create a cross.

4. Place a stainless steel bowl upside down over the bread, and place it in the 425-degree oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook at the same temperature for another 30 minutes.

5. Using a hamburger spatula, remove the bread from the baking sheet, and set it aside to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

This is also pretty straightforward recipe for a quickbread; it's almost like a giant biscuit. I do think it's funny that Jacques's version of Soda Bread doesn't use baking soda, but he does say that you can substitute baking soda and buttermilk for the baking powder and milk, respectively. I may give that a try. I was nervous about potentially sacrificing one of my nice metal mixing bowls to the oven gods, but it came out unscathed.

Cheats & Changes:
My mound of dough did turn out to be bigger than 7" in diameter and 1" in height, but it seemed to bake up just fine. Oh, and I used an canola oil spray on my sheet pan instead of rubbing the canola oil on it. I figured it was the same difference. I'll also note that I didn't need to use the plastic wrap to mold my bread, it was pretty dry. In fact, I had to knead it a bit by hand in the bowl to get all the flour worked into it. But I'm sure that will vary from person-to-person and place-to-place.

The Verdict:
T & I both really liked it. It had a biscuit-y sort of flavor to it. I do wish that it had risen a little more. It seemed a wee bit on the dense side, as you can see from this cross-section photo.

I think my oven may not have been quite hot enough when I put it in. I may crank the oven to 450 next time and leave it on that for the first 30 minutes. I also baked this at the same time as the potatoes and onions, so my tiny little oven may have been overloaded, which would also affect the oven temp and how the bread rose.

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