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Irish Soda Bread, Updated

Oat Soda Bread

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Growing up, I ate a lot of soda bread. My mother’s of Irish descent, and she always baked one of two types: a simple, savory version made with flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt or a sweet kind with sugar, caraway seeds, and raisins that was more cake than bread. I preferred the chewy, moist inside and the light-golden, slightly crunchy crust of the former and would eat slice after slice, toasted and smeared with generous amounts of butter.

Whether out of respect for tradition or fear that she might end up with a sub-par loaf, my mother never deviated from her soda bread recipes, so nor have I. I diligently follow the hand-written recipe for her savory soda bread and work my free-form loaf into a shape that resembles hers, with the hope that it’ll taste like hers, too.

That said, when I spotted Jennie Perillo’s recipe for Oat Soda Bread on her blog In Jennie’s Kitchen, I realized that I might just be ready to make a small tweak or two to a well-worn recipe. How could I not? Jennie basically uses the same ingredients as my mother, but incorporates oat flour (and a bit of sugar), as well. With just these small changes, her end result looks rugged and hearty; I imagine it has a pleasantly coarse texture and slightly sweet flavor, too. And that dark-golden crust? Wowsa. What’s more, as Jennie illustrates, all you need is a food processor and old-fashioned oats to make oat flour yourself.

For a version of Jennie’s bread taken one step farther (hello, seed-encrusted soda bread!), check out Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, too.


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