Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brown Irish Soda Bread

My mother is not much interested in cooking, but baking is another thing altogether. That's probably why all of the recipes I learned at home and still use are for sweets of various kinds. Mom and I are united in the desire to find an adopt a well balanced all cookie diet. If it's not all cookies it could include quick breads or cake, with pie as an occasional break. She came by the taste honestly - her mother liked to bake too. My grandmother was from Ireland, and made very good soda bread with no measurements whatsoever. Mom tried, but was unable to master it from those vague instructions (although my nephew Chris apparently has the knack of it). Luckily one year (probably 1967) the Columbus Dispatch newspaper featured a recipe that although nothing like my grandmother's soda bread satisfied us, and still does. I think it's much better than banana bread, and just as easy to make. I have to warn you that this makes a large quantity, so I seldom make more than a half batch. A full batch overwhelms the capacity of my Kitchen Aid Artisan bowl, so if I am making a full batch I mix the batter in the mixer, then combine with the raisins in another much larger bowl.

Brown Irish Soda Bread

6 Cups Raisins
7 Cups Sifted Flour
1 Teaspoon Allspice
4 Teaspoons Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Nutmeg
2 Teaspoons Salt
4 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Cup Butter, room temperature
3 Cups Sugar
6 Large Eggs
2 Cups Raisin Liquid

Cover the raisins with boiling water, and allow to cool to room temperature. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the soaking liquid.

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the raisin liquid. Stir into the drained raisins and blend.

Divide into 4 8" loaf pans and bake for about 2 hours at 350 degrees. The time is approximate because there is a lot of liquid in the raisins, and when you are using such a large quantity of eggs you may have a wide variance in volume depending on the size of the individual eggs. It will never take less than an hour, and never more than 2. Past that you're on your own! When you start smelling the bread test with a toothpick to give you an idea of how far along it is.

You can use any kind of pans you want to substitute - two 10" tube pans, 6 of the medium disposable foil loaf pans, divide it into individual pans or make muffins - whatever . Just adjust your cooking time accordingly. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Cool completely before slicing. This bread freezes beautifully. If you slice it before you freeze it you can slip a piece out any time you like!

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