Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Luck o' the Irish

I'm pretty psyched for St. Patty's Day on Saturday. I live in Boston, so it's one of the biggest, rowdiest, and funnest (ok, not a word) holidays of the year. Naturally, then, I decided to make my WHB post this week Irish-themed. Since beer with green food coloring doesn't really qualify as an "herb, plant, vegetable, or flower," I settled for a hearty Brown Butter Soda Bread chock full of fresh rosemary.

Soda bread is a popular kind of bread in Ireland and has been since 1840. (Don't you love useless Wikipedia trivia?) I used to think it was called "soda bread" because they put Coke into the dough, but I am a silly person, and not surprisingly, I was wrong. It's called "soda bread" because instead of yeast, baking soda is the leavening agent helping the bread to rise. The baking soda reacts with buttermilk in the dough to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Fun, and delicious!

A lot of people add raisins or nuts to their soda bread, but my recipe, from the February 2006 issue of Bon Appetit, incorporates fresh rosemary, making it WHB-eligible. Rosemary is one of my very favorite herbs, mostly because of its incredibly fragrant smell. In addition to its yummy scent and flavor, rosemary is actually a stimulant and mild analgesic that can be used to treat headaches and poor circulation. For all you fellow beauty product addicts, it's also believed to revitalize your hair and prevent dandruff if you massage rosemary oil into your scalp. I'm a little skeptical, but it could be worth a try?

Either way, this bread is easy and delish. I'll eat a slice on Saturday morning, toasted, with lots of butter... and of course, a big pint of Guinness.

Brown Butter Soda Bread
Makes 2 loaves
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3-1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper, plus more for topping
  • 1-3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375F. Stir butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Pour buttermilk and melted browned butter over flour mixture; stir with fork until flour mixture is moistened. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead gently until dough comes together, about 7 turns. Divide in half. Shape each half into ball; flatten each into 6-inch round. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheet, spacing 5 inches apart. Brush tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper. Using small sharp knife, cut 1/2-inch-deep X in top of each dough round. Bake breads until deep golden brown and tested inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool breads on rack at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, which I'm hosting this week! Get me your entries by Sunday, 3pm Utah time (5pm for us East Coast-ers). Send them over to me at rhammer AT law DOT harvard DOT edu.

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Blogger ros said...

But you're still going to post a picture of green beer at some point, right?

I get so jealous of all you people doing baking. There's no way I can bake in the horrible kitchen I have this year. That bread sounds really tasty.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Helene said...

Hello Becky,
there´s a problem with your mailing address. It´s not accepted with two DOTs. Where did I go wrong?

12:22 PM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

It does sound good. This is something I've never tasted and I've been reading about it everywhere.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I have a super easy soda dread recipe - but yours makes me want to switch - brown butter and rosemary? That's too good to pass up!
Happy St. Paddy's Day...and welcome back!

1:32 PM  
Blogger Helene said...

This looks tasty indeed. I love making bread and so I´ve to enclude your link with me. Thanks for sharing. :)

7:46 AM  
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4:44 PM  
Blogger Cate said...

Wow, that looks delicious! Never baked bread, but this one sure looks tempting.

11:28 PM  
Blogger jeena said...

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2:56 PM  
Blogger Pod said...

wow, looks like you have made some new friends.... :)

this blog is sumptuous. it is a de-light.

7:56 PM  

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