From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making buttermilk & Irish soda bread

Glenda, over at Living and Gardening in the Ozarks milks her cow (Willow) enjoys her own whole milk and cream, then also makes  butter, buttermilk, and yoghurt.   While I don't have a cow, I do make my own yoghurt now and then.

Lately I've been experimenting with scones, so have needed to buy buttermilk.  I also have, occasionally, been making buttermilk biscuits.  And let's not forget Irish soda bread.  Hey!  Time to start making my own buttermilk.

Talk about SIMPLE.  Buy some buttermilk, (the real deal, not the stuff that is filled with thickeners, colorants, etc.  Get the expensive stuff to use as starter.).   Then, per Glenda's instructions, just put 1 cup of buttermilk into a quart jar, then fill the rest of the jar with milk.  (I used organic milk.)  Loosely cap the jar and leave it on the counter.

Glenda's milk clabbers up within a day.  But she uses fresh whole milk, straight from the cow.  The organic milk I used was ultra-pasteurized (click HERE why they do that) so figured it would take 24 hours for the buttermilk to clabber properly.

But 24 hours later, it was still milk.  Had I failed?  Hmmm.  Well, I had other things to do and it wouldn't hurt to just leave it.

Then, 12 hours later when I checked it (assuming I would have to dump it), I saw that the milk had thickened and had a fragrance much like yoghurt.  Yay!   I wasn't really thick, but I was thinking I'd better get the whole shebang into the 'fridge now.

The next morning the buttermilk had thickened even more (it held up a fork), and was much like the original starter buttermilk.  The taste was a little less rich, but then I'd used 2% milk and the started was full-fat milk.

Now I can make as much as I need.  Glenda says you can freeze buttermilk (like yoghurt) so I'll put some 1.5C containers to freeze so I can make scones, biscuits and bread whenever I want.

But I couldn't wait to try it, so made up an Irish soda bread this morning.

There's nothing easier than Irish soda bread:

3.5C AP flour
1t salt
1t soda
1.5C buttermilk
Mix until all comes together, then knead briefly on a floured surface to shape (a 6-8" round).
Cut a deep cross in the top and bake at 425F for 35-40 minutes.

To make a sweeter bread, I add 1/3C sugar (and sometimes 1/2C raisins or other dried fruit).  Also, before I put it in the oven, I sprinkle a little sugar on the top crust.  I used to end up with dry soda bread, but my last 2 efforts I decided to add just a tad more buttermilk to moisten the dough and bake it until *nearly* done (a knife inserted comes out *almost* dry).  I take it out then and let it set a bit under a tea towel.

When sliced, this soda bread has a moist, fine texture that sorta resembles pound cake, only no eggs or oil.  Honestly, with the sugar (and the fruit) this version is very close to being just a huge, fat-free scone and is delish with butter and/or jam.  The hint of toasted sugar on the crust is an added delight.

Time to make a pot of tea. Care for some?

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  1. Kris,thanks for the reference!

    I am so glad to see the recipe for Soda Bread and the picture of the beautiful end product. I have been thinking about making some for a while now but never have....don't know why. No one I know has ever made it and yet I come from a long line of Irish people, McConnells and Mccafferty's. You would have thought someone in the family would have carried that over.

    I am saving your recipe and will do some shortly.
    BTW, I just had to replenish my ongoing jar of buttermilk. After some time, I just start over with fresh starter. It seems to loose some flavor over a long while.

    1. Well, I'm glad I could 'give back' your way since you've inspired me lots of kitchen adventures over here. Hope you enjoy the soda bread as much as we do. It's just so darn simple - and that fits me to a 'T'. LOL