Irish Soda Bread

I just made some soda bread.

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Fresh out the oven and ready to have some decadent butter slathered all over it while it’s still hot.

Irish soda bread is my go-to bread recipe for about a year now. Simply because it is so delicious. I just love how substantial and dense it is. So lovely to dunk into things like olive oil and curries. On top of that it also has other major bonus points going for it:

  • Quick to prepare, within minutes. No rise time required!
  • So incredibly easy.
  • Just 4 ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk

Well, 5, if you include lemon or white vinegar to make a buttermilk substitute. Buttermilk is not an ingredient I’m familiar with, and I found it is available in the supermarkets here but it’s expensive. It costs quite a lot more than regular milk. Happily enough I have learned I can quickly and easily make my own substitute. It’s basically just mixing in 2 tablespoons of lemon or white vinegar to every cup of milk, and letting it stand for a while so it thickens, about 10 minutes or so.

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Here’s the video where I discovered the wonderful Irish Soda Bread, and the charming presenter Darina Allen. It’s only 4 minutes long. I’ve since learned that Darina is a famous and highly-respected chef and food writer. I like her manner of presenting. I’m not a fan of all TV chefs, some I just find too loud and brash. I guess trying too hard to be interesting. I like the ones like this lady here who is engaging and enthusiastic enough, charismatic but still calm and soothing to watch. And of course the Irish accent is always lovely to hear.

In case the video above doesn’t work, the recipe is also available at: Darina Allen’s Irish Soda Bread. Variations such as turning the dough into cheese scones are also suggested there. I’ve tried the cheese scone version and they were very nice too.

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The loaf I just made is smaller than the prescribed recipe, because I only wanted to make 1 Cup of the buttermilk substitute. The amount of flour I therefore also reduced, from 3.5 Cups to 2.5 Cups.

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To add on to all the things I already mentioned about why I love Irish Soda Bread, I also love the ‘rustic’ look about it, which also puts a smile on my face because anything rustic makes me think of that sometimes-pretentiously-used word, artisanal :-)

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And here’s another short video, on how to make a buttermilk substitute. Really short at only 1 minute and 19 seconds! I love these short videos! I hate it when these tutorials are unnecessarily long because the presenters yak and yak on and on. This one is concise, with another lovely presenter with a lovely Irish accent to boot.

 

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Oatmeal Cookies from halfbakedharvest.com

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Just out the oven. Waiting for my teeth to sink into them.

I think I’ve made these more than ten times now, ever since I discovered the recipe at Half Baked Harvest just a couple of months ago. I’ve been meaning to make my own cookies for some time and finally got around to checking out some recipes online. I chose this one and it’s like I hit the jackpot because they are, oh my God, so good, and so fast and easy to make. I wanted a recipe I could rely on time and again, and this is just that as like I said, I’ve made them more than ten times in the space of maybe two months.

The recipe is from the mum of the blog’s writer, Tieghan Gerard, and is actually for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. But I substituted dried fruits like cranberries, dates and prunes for the chocolate chips simply because I always have the former in my kitchen (I love them as a snack) and have been using them ever since. But I really should try chocolate chips one of these days.

Like the Chicken Soup recipe from Martha Stewart I’ve noted here some time ago (and have made many times since then as well), this recipe satisfies my criteria:

  • Delicious
  • Easy to make, even for a kitchen dummy like me
  • Not too many ingredients, so it’s not expensive to make and most or all the ingredients are likely to be already stocked at home

Last minute guests? Made these cookies for them. Decided last minute to bring a small gift when visiting someone? Whipped these little babies up and presented them in a cutesy little gift pack. So fast and easy. Hmmm, my mouth is watering a little now thinking of these cookies so much I think I’ll bake a batch when I’m done with this post.

Click here for the link to the recipe ‘Mom’s Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies‘ at Half Baked Harvest.

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It’s so fast it takes only about 10 to 15 minutes for me to prepare it. First I preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. I line two cooking trays with grease paper.

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Like that

Then the ingredients.

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First there’s 2.5 cups Rolled Oats. 2 cups Flour, and 1.5 cups Brown Sugar

Also 1 teaspoon Baking Soda and 1 teaspoon Salt. Mix these dry ingredients well.

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Then add in 1 cup Canola Oil. (I’ve used Olive Oil instead as well. Turned out ok too.)

Also 2 large Eggs and 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract. Mix everything together. I tend to use a spoon or spatula initially but then switch to mixing by hand to combine well. It becomes a crumbly, dry-ish looking dough, but as long as it holds up when you shape it into little balls later, it’s okay. Otherwise you’ll need to add a tad bit more oil.

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And finally 1 cup Dried Cranberries is added here to the crumbly mix

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When I use cranberries I like to use these. I find them at Aeon supermarket (in Johor Bahru). They are delicious and not too sweet as a quick snack too. And at a great price too at only around RM7 if I remember correctly. That’s like a little over SG$2 (Rate now is around SG$1 = RM3)

Use your hands to create little balls of dough. Yields about 2 dozen.

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 Bake for around 12 minutes.
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Love at first bite. I love oatmeal, so oatmeal cookies are the best kind of cookies there are to me.

The dried cranberries turn out deliciously a little chewy. But I’ve found them a little bitter if over-baked, so keep an eye on them when in the oven and don’t let them become too brown on top. I remember when I used prunes, they turned out so delicious and even still a little moist, but handling and chopping up those sticky prunes was a tad bit more work.  The cookie itself is chewy and substantial, like a cookie ball version of an energy bar, which makes one or two of these fab for breakfast.

(“One or two“. Hahahahaha.)