I’ve had a fondness for soda bread ever since I discovered Heidi Swanson’s recipe for Six-Seed Soda Bread from 101cookbooks.com. Play around with the flours and the mix-ins. Figs and walnuts, dried cranberries and pistachios, dates and almonds–you decide. This version was inspired by Lesley Stowe’s Rosemary Raisin Pecan Raincoast Crisps. It’s an addictive flavor combination. And finishing the bread with anise seeds adds just the right amount of spice. —Bob Vivant
all-purpose flour, plus 2 teaspoons for dusting the pan
whole wheat flour
fresh rosemary, minced
pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups
milk, for brushing
anise seeds (optional) (Sesame seeds or rolled oats are nice substitutes, if you’re not an anise lover.)
Combine the rum and raisins in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Cover and allow the raisins to macerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Coat a baking sheet with olive oil and lightly dust it with flour, or line it with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and rosemary. Stir in the toasted pecans.
In a separate bowl combine the raisins with the rum, the yogurt, and honey.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until the dough is too stiff to stir. Use your hands to bring it together in the bowl. Add additional yogurt one teaspoon at a time if it’s too dry. You want a stiff, slightly tacky ball.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and shape into a round loaf. (Don’t over-knead the dough. Too much kneading will produce a tough bread.).
Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to make deep slashes across the top of the loaf, 4-6 cuts about half way through. Brush the top with milk. Sprinkle with seeds or oats if using.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will sound hollow.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with a generous slather of butter.