Thursday, March 17, 2011

Labbits Like: Spotted Dog

Clover Juneau's not Irish in the least (she's from the midwest), but her name being Clover, she thought she'd be the one to share tonight's St. Patty's day flavors: a popular twist on traditional Irish Soda Bread and a vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread in its strictest sense is made up of four ingredients: flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt. That's it. Nothing Martha Stewart about it at all. Modern day bakers have come up with several variations of this bread which may include raisins, caraway seeds, butter, eggs, shortening, sugar, nuts, cheese, chocolate, orange zest, whiskey...the list goes on. Purists will scoff and declare it NOT traditional soda bread, even though all those options may be tasty.

Soda bread with raisins is a very common variation and it's known by the names "Spotted Dog" or "Railway Cake". There's no shortage of raisins in the labbits' pantry, so they voted for the "Spotted Dog". The addition of an egg and a little sugar (again, making it non-traditional Soda Bread!) gives the bread a more contrasted crust - a little darker, a little crunchier. Serve this up with jam, butter, or a nice aged Irish cheddar. Print the recipe here.

Spotted Dog

3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (not self rising)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 egg
3-4 oz dark and/or golden raisins
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking soda, then add salt, sugar and raisins. Mix together with clean hands, (paws?) allowing mixture to fall back into the bowl through open fingers (okay, not paws). This allows your dough to get more air and result in a lighter bread.

Make a well in the mixture. Crack an egg into a measuring cup and add buttermilk until it reaches the 1 1/2 cup line. Gently mix together. Pour most of the liquid mixture into the well and mix gently with hands. Add up to 1/4 more buttermilk if dough is dry and not sticking. Do not overmix the dough. Once the dough comes together, place onto a well floured working surface.

Wash and dry hands thoroughly. Flour your hands and quickly tidy and shape the dough into a round about 2 1/2 inches high. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and score the bread into quarters with a sharp knife. Place in oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. To check that the bread is done, tap the bottom of the bread. It should sound hollow.

Serve freshly baked, with butter, jam or Irish cheddar. Keep wrapped in tin foil or under a moist tea towel to keep the bread moist.

Yields: one loaf
Recipe:  Adapted from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen.

1 comment:

  1. This spotted dog takes a little more time, gets a boost from yeast, but has a great texture -- (from a Fleischmann's Yeast cookbook). Good either with either sweets or savories.


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