As we begin the new year, the brutal Midwestern winds and the lake effect snow machine are both working hard to bring us record low temperatures and extreme weather conditions. Many local schools/businesses are closed again today and I am anticipating a difficult commute to work this morning. As the sun comes up and the traffic begins to build, I will be keeping an eye on the posted travel alerts as I may, very well choose to work from home today.
While everyone is still tucked warm in their beds, I’ve decided to get an early start and begin baking a few items as we may be hunkered down indoors for a while. The warmth of the oven will certainly help to heat the chilly kitchen. It seems the heater is working double time to try to keep up with the thermostat.
Recently, I saw a post for Irish Soda Bread that caught my eye. You can find it posted as Irish Raisin Bread at “If I Only Had A Time Machine”. The recipe included many ingredients that I don’t typically add to my mother’s traditional recipe. With a few variations, I made the loaf for my family on Monday night. Boy, everyone certainly enjoyed the new flavors and textures of this recipe. Last night, I sliced up the last of the bread and vowed that I would soon make a few more loaves.
So, along with a pan of baked oatmeal, I think I’ll be making another batch of bread this morning. I’m sure the warmth of the oven and the smell of freshly baking bread with help to shake of the winter blues as we have many more months of this crazy weather ahead of us. (I just looked it up… we have 70 days and twelve hours left until the arrival of Spring.) Bundle up and stay warm!
Sweet Irish Soda Bread
(Adapted from If I Only Had A Time Machine)
5 cups Flour
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, cold
2 cups Raisins
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Rum Extract or Irish Whiskey
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cups Buttermilk or Sour Milk
2 tablespoons Old Fashioned Oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two round cake or pie pans.
Combine first seven (dry) ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Cut in butter or margarine until the texture resembles course crumbs. Add raisins. In a separate bowl mix remaining (wet) ingredients. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients forming a soft dough. Place dough onto a floured surface and knead well. Form into round cakes, place in prepared pans. Slice a light cross down the center of the loaves and sprinkle with oats. Bake for 40-50 minutes.