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Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not-Quite-So Irish Soda Bread

Everyone seems to have a different Irish Soda Bread recipe - do you make it for St Patrick's Day? My sister puts raisins and caraway seeds in hers. Some very Irish people we knew used to make it very plain, with just a hint of sugar. They'd let it sit overnight and then cut it in thin slices with a crossed thread. Maybe that's the original idea - a substitute for yeast bread in thin sandwiches.

The recipe I've used for 30 years is more like a teacake or dessert. Instead of raisins it has currants - not, apparently the actual currants that would grow in a cool climate like Ireland (genus Ribes), but a tiny grape (genus Vitis) from California, which are dried and called Zante currants.

Every year I'd make soda bread with currants for St. Patrick's Day and it tasted fine to me. But that bread didn't seem to 'move'...days later it would still be around. The same thing happened when I made other breads that my mom used to make when we were kids. My husband and children weren't very interested in Banana Bread, Applesauce Cake, or Zucchini Bread, either.

Finally I discovered the secret - add chocolate chips and even the Lithahooligans will love Soda Bread. Or Zucchini bread. Or Banana Bread. Nothing, however, will make them like Applesauce Cake.

Lithuanian-Irish Soda Bread

Put 1 and 1/4 cup milk in glass pyrex pitcher. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Microwave on low power 90 seconds. Let sit while you sift together:

2 and 1/2 cups unbleached flour (you can substitute up to 1 cup of white flour with King Arthur whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
a sprinkle of sea salt
3/4 cup sugar (white, brown, or a combination)

Cut in 1/4 tub Smart Balance or 1 stick butter or margarine

Add 2 slightly beaten eggs, the clabbered milk, 1/2 package (about 1 cup) Zante currants, and a cup of chocolate chips. The ones used this year were Ghirardelli Dark chips.

Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, lower heat to 325°F for another 30 to 45 minutes depending on pan size. You can make it in a regular loaf pan, or make a round loaf in a glass pie pan, or use one of the newer silicon molds to make small loaves. That's what I used - got 4 of them from this recipe. Whatever the pan, grease or spray it and sprinkle with turbinado sugar for a little extra crunch.

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