The base of Irish soda bread is so much fun to play with; you can add so many different flavorings to create different flavor profiles. Fennel and figs make good partners and I wanted to create a more savory dimension by adding cumin and curry powder to the mix. It's a lightly sweet bread with savory elements so it can fit into a number of different scenarios, from tea time to tea sandwiches to dinners. —LE BEC FIN
4 small loaves
4 cups White Whole Wheat flour
3 cups white flour
1 cup fine ground organic cornmeal*
3 Tablespoons baking powder,sieved
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup demerara/raw sugar
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons ground cumin (from toasted seeds)
2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds
1Tablespoon Madras Curry powder (Star brand is excellent)
1 Tablespoons toasted fennel seeds
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, cut in about 1 Tablespoon chunks
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup chopped dried black Mission or Turkish figs
1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup golden raisins
1 large egg for glaze
1 teaspoon kosher salt for glaze
1-2 teaspoons raw fennel seeds for glaze
In This Recipe
Combine flour through fennel in stand mixer with paddle in bowl.Mix to blend. Add butter and run til there are pea shaped bits of butter.Add buttermilk combined with eggs and mix just til dough comes together. Remove bowl from stand; transfer dough to bowl; add prunes and currants. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead lightly- just til comes together.
Cut into three approximately 23 ounce pieces and form each into an oval, adding flour if needed to keep from sticking.Put on silpat or parchment -lined baking sheet. Beat together eggs and salt and brush on bread. Sprinkle with fennel seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until browned on top and bottom and an inserted skewer comes out clean and hot.**
* Organic cornmeal makes such a difference in flavor (Just say No to Quaker Oats!)
but make sure to store it in the frig or freezer because it can easily go rancid.
* *This 'quick bread' is, like biscuits and scones, best eaten the day it is baked.(Any leftover baked bread is better toasted.) Otherwise, the dough can be tightly wrapped and frozen, and baked off frozen (not defrosted) within a month.
I am always on the lookout for innovative recipes, which is why I am just ga-ga over my recently- discovered Food52 with its amazingly innovative and talented contributors. My particular eating passions are Japanese, Indian, Mexican; with Italian and French following close behind. Turkish/Arabic/Mediterranean cuisines are my latest culinary fascination. My desert island ABCs are actually 4 Cs: citrus, cumin, cilantro, and cardamom.
I am also finally indulging in learning about food history; it gives me no end of delight to learn how and when globe artichokes came to the U.S., and how and when Jerusalem artichokes went from North America to Europe. And that the Americas enabled other cuisines to become glorious. I mean where would those countries be without: Corn, Tomatoes, Chiles,Peanuts, Dried Beans, Pecans, Jerusalem Artichokes??!
While I am an omnivore, I am, perhaps more than anything, fascinated by the the world of carbohydrates, particularly the innovative diversity of uses for beans, lentils and grains in South Indian and other cuisines.
Baking gives me much pleasure, and of all the things I wish would change in American food, it is that we would develop an appreciation for sweet foods that are not cloyingly sweet, and that contain more multigrains. (Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a country of great bakeries instead of the drek that we have in the U.S.?!)
I am so excited by the level of sophistication that I see on Food52 and hope to contribute recipes that will inspire you like yours do me.
I would like to ask a favor of all who do try a recipe of mine > Would you plse write me and tell me truthfully how it worked for you and/or how you think it would be better? I know many times we feel that we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but. i really do want your honest feedback because it can only help me improve the recipe.Thanks so much.