Farmhouse Soda Bread

IMG_3354After having amazing Soda Bread on our vacation, thought I’d look into it a bit more. The most essential quality of good Soda Bread is its lightness. All the soda bread I’ve had in the past has been like a huge drop biscuit, and somewhat coarse.

Here’s my thought, just because something is from yesteryear, a farmhouse, or labeled rustic doesn’t automatically mean it should be something you’re not proud of! The soda bread we had was so good, that it was used in the bread pudding as well. I’ve read all my head will hold about alkaline and acids, and am figuring out a recipe that if it works, will be posted here within the next few days. From an early age I remember being told to use a teaspoon or two of lemon juice in a cup of milk to get a better result in cooking than if you were to use store bought buttermilk. I always use this soured milk because I’ll never get through a litre of buttermilk! Apparently buttermilk’s not as acid as sour milk.

Also, thinking about biscuits and that they are never at their best the next day, I looked into storage.  I’m guessing that most folks don’t have an abundance of oiled baking paper on hand (this was what used in the 1800’s), but we do have tin foil.  When the loaves are closely wrapped with an impervious covering, you’ll get an extra couple of days of goodness.

So after some tweaking and thinking and reviewing what I already know about baking soda and powder, here is what I’ve come up with.

Makes 3 – 5 ¾“ x 3” loaves – enough for 12 servings Continue reading

Cranberry Orange Loaf

Funny how one thing reminds you of another?  We grew up in a big rambling house in the west side of Vancouver.  It was a time of parents putting work-horses across the road so the kids could play hockey, Hallowe’en would be the scent of smoky piles of raked up maple leaves, and all the neighbours would bring their fireworks to our front yard.  We had the dentist that always gave us each a toothbrush, the grumpy old man that no one would go to his door, and a woman who made decorated cookies for us that were barely palatable (thank goodness for our Newfoundland, Tasha).  Our Dad worked in the food import business, mainly food from China.  We were always excited to see just what he’d found to pass out to the Trick or Treaters.  The best were the orange flavoured jelly slices that were wrapped in a Goldfish printed wrapper, with a long flowing tail and a shiny orange ribbon.

This recipe is from Elva Thorpe, a dear lady who lived kitty-corner to us across the lane.  That’s how we used to talk!  I hope people still do.  She was old enough to be our grandmother, and made wonderful apple muffins and this loaf.  I still have Mom’s hand-written recipe cards from then.  I’ve used other recipes, but still come back to Mrs. Thorpe’s, it’s either because it’s the best one, or it always triggers memories of a wonderful childhood. Continue reading