It’s cold this week in New England and like everyone else, I am waiting (impatiently) for spring to make up its mind.
Meanwhile, April fool! Snowstorm in our immediate future! But I’m staying tuned. Those fickle weather gods are at it again. I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude.
While I'm cooling my heels, I am counting my blessings. This slow segue into spring allows me to do the following:
1) Procrastinate garden cleanup (justified for another week or so.)
2) Procrastinate cleaning study (it is too cold in there.)
3) Close door to study until the weather warms up, so I can….
4) Ignore tornado-like mess I created in attempt to organize study.
5) Procrastinate grocery shopping (justified by a freezer full of soup.)
ust to keep me on my toes, I’m going to make this easy bread to eat with my soup. It’s a version of Irish soda bread. I was going to make it for St. Patrick’s Day, but just like the arrival of spring, I procrastinated.
A general method for making soda breads and scones:
Stir flour, baking powder and salt together and rub in butter pieces until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs
Add and mix in additional dry ingredients, such as raisins, currants, seeds, or grated cheese.
Pour in the liquid, in this case, buttermilk.
Stir together to form a dough.
Plop the dough onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Use your floured hands to shape it into a flat round.
Make a deep cross in the bread and prick it four times in the triangles created by the cross to ‘let the fairies out,' as my Irish grandmother might say. If you are making scones, cut the round in eight triangular wedges and separate them on the baking sheet.
Brush with cream or buttermilk.
Sprinkle with toppings.
Irish oatmeal bread with cheddar and pumpkin seeds
Makes 1 round loaf
3 ounces grated sharp cheddar, about 1 1/4 cups
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 1/4 cups buttermilk plus 1 tablespoon for the top of the bread
Extra buttermilk to glaze the bread
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese and 1 rounded teaspoon of the pumpkin seeds for the top of the bread.
2. Whisk the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oats, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl until combined. Add the butter pieces and rub them into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the remaining grated cheese, the remaining pumpkin seeds and all of the flax seeds into the dry ingredients.
3. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula just until the mixture comes together; don’t overmix. Use the spatula to form the dough into a round piece as best as possible. The dough will be quite sticky, so don’t fret if it is not a perfect round ball.
4. Turn the lump of dough onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Dust your hands with a little flour and pat it into a 7-inch round, flat shape. Use a sharp knife to cut a 1-inch deep cross on top of the dough. Prick the center of each of the four triangles created by the cross with the point of a paring knife.
5. Brush the top of the loaf with buttermilk. Sprinkle the reserved grated cheese and pumpkin seeds over the top.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, then decrease the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it. (Total baking time is 25 to 30 minutes.) Cool on a rack before slicing. The bread is best eaten on the same day it is baked, but it makes delicious toast for a day or two more.