Therapeutic bread making

Recipes: irish soda bread and banana bread

With a freshly baked bread craving gathering steam inside me, a little baking rampage was in order. Thus a couple nights ago I headed over to a foodie friend’s flat, luxuriously equipped with not one but two temporarily purloined ovens, to get the pent up baking energy out of my system. I missed the memo on St. Patrick’s Day so decided to compensate by making some Irish soda bread. I also conveniently had 8 overripe bananas begging to be used, so banana bread it was as well. I ended up with a nice crusty loaf of healthy, hearty soda bread and four mini-loaves of banana bread, and I must say that there’s something deeply, almost profoundly, satisfying about seeing carbs rise and/or brown in the oven. I imagine people experience similar feelings of satisfaction from making things like babies and such, but for me, it’s all about the measuring, mixing, and baking. No babies necessary.

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(Recipe after the jump)

Irish soda bread
Adapted from closet cooking

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup milk + a splash of white vinegar (but buttermilk is ideal)

Directions:
1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Mix in the liquids to form a dough.
3. Shape the dough and place it on a baking sheet or in a loaf pan. Top with salt, herbs, whatever you fancy.
4. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40 minutes (the top should be golden brown).

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My go-to banana bread:
(Adapted from Beth Hensperger’s banana bread from The Bread Bible)

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1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar or honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
1 1/4 cups unbleached AP flour
(for half the batch I added some cocoa powder; for the other half I used ww flour and added pumpkin seeds and craisins.)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan or two mini loaf pans. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, sugar and eggs. Beat until light-colored and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mashed bananas and beat again until well combined.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking soda (and cocoa powder, if using). Add to the banana-egg mixture in batches and stir to combine. Beat well to make a batter that is evenly combined and creamy in consistency.
3. Spoon the batter into loaf pan(s). Bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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The soda bread is a keeper — quick, hassle-free, novice-friendly. No point worrying about obtaining the optimum crumb structure or crust quality; sometimes, just bread is good enough. Delicious straight from the oven, as most bread is, or toasted and slathered with some butter. I may start deviating from the current banana bread recipe though, and see if I can get it to turn out more like bread and less like cake. It’d be nice to have one cake-y banana bread recipe and a bread-y one ready to suit my fancy. In any case, this round of baking was nourishing in more ways than one, and I eagerly await the day when I won’t have to trek a quarter mile juggling loaf pans and batter just to get some baking in my life.

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One thought on “Therapeutic bread making

  1. ooh the soda bread looks soo hole-y. and the banana bread – i could do without the cranberries!! wait.. are those cranberries?? b/c it’s not listed in your recipe..?

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