I’m starting to consider myself a “kitchen traveler.” Like armchair traveling, I visit a new part of the world from afar, except there is an additional benefit to exploring the globe via the kitchen: the food.
Three years ago, I was lucky to travel in Ireland. I visited Dublin and the striking west coast near Galway. The beauty of the lush rolling hills, bountiful sheep and craggy cliffs has stuck with me and I often feel a yearning for a country I barely know.
I returned for a few days this week, with a hearty Irish Soda Bread recipe that is perfect for breakfast or tea. The whole-grain loaf tasted nutty and authentic. Although it was my first try, for a bit I felt like I was in the verdant countryside.
In America, this baked loaf is commonly associated with sweetness, but this version, truer to tradition, is low in sugar and packed with healthy grains. The sweet, raisin-studded loaf called Irish Soda Bread in the United States is actually called “Spotted Dog” or “Spotted Dick” in Ireland.
Irish Soda Bread gets its name and its lift from baking soda, not yeast, which makes it a “quick bread.” Don’t be surprised if you break open your steaming loaf and see a green tinge. When one of the antioxidants in sunflower seeds, flavanoids, mix with an alkali, the baking soda in the recipe they turn yellow. Another antioxidant, anthocyanin, reacts by turning blue. These two together give you the green tinge.
I enjoyed this loaf immediately from the oven, steaming and slathered with butter and dark berry jam. As I closed my eyes sipped a mug of black tea, I was almost in Ireland.
From Greg Patent’s A Baker’s Odyssey