Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Go For a Piece of Chocolate Soda Bread

I find it impossible to resist the welcoming aromas found in a bakery. I guess that is part of the reason why freshly baked bread is one of my favorite foods. I love the smell, texture and taste of it! In fact I think I’m a bread junkie. I don’t believe there’s a cure. And if one does exist, I don’t want to know about it.

I have made my own rye bread on occasion. The results are usually worth the effort but the process of kneading the dough, waiting for it to rise, smacking it down and then waiting to for it to rise again is a good half-day commitment.

There is in fact an easier way to make bread. It’s called soda bread. It requires very little kneading, about five turns total, and no waiting for the dough to rise. Plus it doesn’t require yeast. It’s about the easiest bread you can make.

To be honest I’ve never been a big fan of soda bread. I’ve liked it for dipping into saucy based dishes such as stew or chili but that’s about it.

That was until I came across this soda bread recipe from Maggie Glezer, author of A Blessing of Bread. When I saw that she added chocolate to the bread I knew it would be good! The sugar and chocolate add an element of sweetness to the soda bread that’s impossible not to love. Maggie also suggests adding in diced candied orange peel but that reminded me too much of Christmas cake so I went with chopped pecans.

As for my song pairing, I decided upon it while I was mindlessly listening to the radio in some kind of soda bread baking trance. Kim Mitchell’s song Lager and Ale came over the airwaves and broke the spell. I don’t think this bread would taste too good with a lager or ale (a shame really) so I decided to pair it with another song of his called Go for a Soda. I didn’t actually hear this song while making the bread but the message sure fits. When you don’t have time to bake traditional bread, go for a soda, soda bread that is. Just don’t forget the chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Soda Bread

1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
3 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate
1/3 cup chopped pecans
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add butter. Rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk and egg. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Knead gently until dough comes together, about 5 turns. Form dough into a 6½-inch diameter round about 2-inches high.

Transfer dough to baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the dough into a sunburst pattern.

Bake bread in a 350ยบ F oven until browned, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer bread to a rack and let cool completely.

Tip: You know bread is ready when you tap the bottom of it and it sounds hollow.

Volume: Makes 1 medium loaf

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Brent Garell
The Kitchen Roadie

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