Thursday, January 20, 2011

cabin fever

the relentless lull of winter is here. we shovel snow. we ski. we snowshoe. we slide down icy hills on flimsy plastic sleds. we shovel some more. we pretend to be content with the reduced amount of sunshine that we receive everyday. we shuffle through the hums of the day, with the anticipation of spring or a vacation to warmer climates. it's called cabin fever, and if not addressed, odd behavior will ensue.
to combat the winter blues, i've been making hearty soups and soda breads. there is something therapeutic about whipping up a loaf of multi-grain irish soda bread, when the cold wind is voicing it's opinion against our single pane windows. the added warmth of the oven is always welcomed. i've started making soda breads because i seem to have less and less time lately, so the thought of making homemade bread is out. soda bread is quick and very easy to throw together, and finishes in just about the same time as the remainder of the dinner i'm creating. it's fun the play around with the various seeds and grains that are available here at the co-op. Feel free to use whatever seeds you have on hand! Belly up!!

2 1/2 tablespoons of Each: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and flax seeds

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. In a small bowl combine all the seeds and set aside.

Stir all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the seeds. Make a well in the center of the flour, pour in the buttermilk, and stir until the dough just comes together. If you need to add an extra splash of buttermilk because the dough is too dry, you can. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer- you need to get it into the oven while the baking soda is still doing its stuff.

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and mark it with a deep cross across the top, cutting two-thirds of the way through the loaf with a serrated knife. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with the remaining seeds.

Bake for 35- 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden crusted on top and bottom.

*I divided this dough into two loaves, following all of the above procedures, just divided into two smaller loaves.