Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Baking with the Littles

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day for us has generally been the same as it is for most Americans. Beer. Stupid green outfits. Beer. Corned beef and cabbage for dinner. Beer. The parade. More beer.

Now that we have a toddler, things in the partying category have clearly jumped ship, and I started looking for other ways to celebrate the day. Since I'm only a quarter Irish and E is maybe a drop, it isn't a huge deal. My Irish grandmother passed away years before I was born, so I don't have any family recipes to pass on, or any traditions that are specifically Irish. I also am not ready to jump on board the "every little holiday is the new Christmas" bandwagon and deck the halls with shamrocks, build a leprechaun trap, or dye every bite of food green. That will start when Jude goes to school, so I'm giving myself a reprieve. In the meantime, we will have our corned beef and cabbage for dinner, and today we made this yummy Irish soda bread. No, it's not the kind you usually see studded with raisins and caraway seeds (which I will also make, but by myself, and which is an Irish American construct). This bread is more like what the Irish actually made in Ireland, before it came over here and got sweetened up. It is perfect for little helpers, because it doesn't contain any eggs and they can get elbows deep in dough if they want to. 

We used this recipe for craft class today, which became baking class, since we ended up with a very small group. Each kiddo got an apron and we took turns adding scoops to the big bowl, mixing, and making a general mess. I split the dough into equal parts and they shaped mini loaves, then cut the traditional cross shape into the tops before baking. It was really fun, even if Jude couldn't stop eating dough off of his fingers. Disgusting, but he swears it tastes good.

He ate his smeared with goat cheese and pickled beets for lunch. I had mine with butter and jam. It's a very simple bread without a ton of flavor, so this is more of a fun project than a go-to baking recipe. You can certainly mix it up by using different flours, adding seeds or dried fruit, etc. so get crafty and have some fun with it. Just please don't dye it green.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread
3 1/2 cups of flour (we use whole wheat)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add enough buttermilk to make the dough sticky, but not runny. Stir using a wooden spoon, or just use your hands! Turn dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball (or four small ones as we did). Cut a cross shape about halfway down into the ball with a knife and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes (or 20 for the mini loaves), the bread is ready when you tap on the bottom and hear a hollow sound.

No comments: