Posted by: Josey Lyne Payne, Esq. | January 16, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Some mornings I wake up just ready to take on the world.  It’s really nice when this happens on a weekend-morning.  This morning, despite turning off my alarm last night, my body decided to maintain schedule – okay, okay I fought it for a good half hour, but the schedule ultimately won.  I was up, dressed, made, and gorgeous by 7:30 am.  What to do?  Well, I’ve learned that if I’m lacking motivation to move all I have to do is ask a simple question – to no one in particular, but just say outloud:  “Want to go to the park?”  This prompts head tilts, multiple whine sessions, and the most flattering begging and pleading one could possibly stand.  The desperation to go to the park exhibited by the sous chefs is indescribable and, well, it would just be the cruelest thing in the world to simply ignore it.  We were out the door before 8:00 am.

Initially I thought I’d take them to Stodder’s Neck, a popular dog haunt on the Hingham-Weymouth border, and only about 20 minutes from the house.  We all headed across the yard, Tuckerman sprung into the back of the Jeep and Laya waited for “boosties”.  I started the Jeep and realized I only had 1/4 tank of fuel.  Well, I didn’t want to stop for gas (one of my least favorite things to do), so decided the Abington Grove, which is a short 5 minute ride away would do just fine.  Besides, the boxers LOVE to squirrel hunt at the Grove where squirrel hunting is peak.

The park was lovely – no one else was there for the first 30 minutes or so of our walk – no one but the dozens of squirrels who were obviously pissed that the boxers had shown up on such a lovely morning, the kind of morning perfect for recovering pine cones that had escaped the high boughs above.  Despite feeling a slight pang for those grey furballs, I couldn’t help but feel utter glee when I saw the almost human-like smiles on the boxer faces while hunting. 

After about an hour we headed home – home to a messy kitchen.  I popped ole blue eyes into the kitchen cd player and started to tidy when I decided some Irish Soda Bread would be a nice breakfast with a cup of Dunkie’s coffee (always delivered by the bear when he arrives home from playing hoops on Saturday mornings).  While the quick loaf baked, the kitchen cleaning business successfully commenced, and I had a beautiful, light, yummy breakfast treat.  What a great morning.

How was your morning?

Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Barefoot Contessa: At Home

4 cups + 1 tablespoon flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 3/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 egg
1 teaspoon mixed grated clementine peel and lemon peel
1 cup dried currants

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the milk and lemon juice in a measuring cup and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the 4 cups of flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the dry mixture.
With a fork, lightly beat the milk and lemon juice mixture.
Add the egg and zests to the milk mixture.
Combine the 1 tablespoon flour with the currants.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the milk and egg mixture to the flour mixture.
Mix the currants into the dough. (The dough will seem very wet).
Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it a few times into a round loaf.
Place the loaf on a sheet (lined with parchment paper) and lightly cut an X into the top of the loaf with a serrated knife.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. 
NOTE: **When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

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