Yes, I could have done something green, but really – why?! There will be enough green things over the next few days that this doesn’t need to be. And maybe the Irish aren’t into the savory, but then you never know. This is a lovely soda bread recipe. I like it because it used a combination of flours – all-purpose, bread flour and whole wheat flour. I also got to embellish with raisins and pumpkin seeds, and wait, the most important part, I painted the top of the loaf with a combination of butter and chili oil before baking and then again, just as it came out of the oven. Subtle heat I call it, just in case my friend Joe stops by for a piece, I’ll post the warning!

We’re having renovations done in the house so it’s a matter of trying not to let the chaos and clutter of the process get in the way of my day. So what do I do to get some sense of normalcy – I bake! This is most definitely a relationship stretcher isn’t it? I’m talking about the renovations, not the baking! If only I’d known – I would have gone away and let my wife deal with it (but that really would have been a relationship stretcher). Regardless, it needed to be done, so it’s some restless nights for us. We’re sleeping in my son’s room, far away – it seems like a mile, from our bedroom. No it’s not a big house, just not used to walking down the hall to go to bed. It’s a different mattress, pillows – general cleanliness of the room etc. He took the clock radio with him, do you know how difficult it is to reprogram our clock radio once it’s been unplugged (I’ve become my father with the flashing VCR clock – argh!) – thank heaven for cell phone alarms.

It’s a disruption to our normal routine – last minute news on the bedroom TV before turning in, the convenience of the washroom – I know “TMI”, the softness of the carpet – as opposed to walking on cardboard and paper and drop cloths. And above all, the dust! Oh boy do I sound old! But it’s going to be beautiful when it’s done – so there is light at the end of the tunnel. The worst of it – I think, is over, the rooms have been gutted so now it’s just the tiling, plumbing, lighting, painting – oh dear, maybe I spoke too soon!

But enough, on to the recipe. Again, one dish, no yeast – no proofing, add-ins as I like, and of course – subtle heat. Start to finish – 1 hour. Try this recipe and Happy St. Patrick’s day to all! As always – enjoy!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon each – chopped rosemary and thyme
½ cup raisins
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup any other type of seed – I used hulled sunflower seeds
1⅔ cups buttermilk
4 tbsp. melted butter with 4 tbsp. chili oil

Preheat the oven to 400°f and lightly grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or a non-stick heavy bottom pie plate – I used some melted butter and a pastry brush to paint my heavy bottom pie plate
In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, chopped rosemary, raisins and pepitas – mix well with your hands or a fork, breaking up lumps of brown sugar and ensuring the flour is well mixed
Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk – I recommend the real stuff not the home made variety for this purpose; it is one of the stars of the show, so you really need that true taste
Stir and mix until it starts to form dough
Pour it out onto you clean counter and bring together kneading just a little to make it into a ball shape
Poke any raisins back into the dough if they are peeking through as they will burn
Put it into the prepared tin, cut a few slits in the top
Brush the top of the loaf – make sure you get some into the slits, with the melted butter/chili oil and sprinkle a few extra nuts on top
Bake the bread for 45 – 50 minutes
I always, always, always use an instant read thermometer – I’m looking for a temperature of 190f – if my dough had eggs or yeast in it, then 200f – better over-baked bread than under baked – go out and buy one if you don’t have one – puhleaze!
Remove from the oven and paint lightly with the butter/chili oil mixture
Let cool, slice and devour with butter

Bread 2

Raw Dough, ready for the baking pan!

Bread 3

Just out of the oven, about to be painted with butter/chili oil!

Bread 4

Ready for butter and anything else you want to put on it!