Saturday, March 19, 2011

GRANNY'S KITCHEN: Mr. McBride's Soda Bread

I never met Mr. McBride, but he was apparently a well loved, and highly respected educator.  He, I believe, was the principal at Scranton School, in Cleveland, where I worked: he retired before I moved there.  Cleveland has a large Irish population, and this was Mr. McBride's recipe that everyone made every year at St. Patrick's day.  And the recipe came to me, too, so I've added it to my traditional St. Patrick's Day feast.

Start with 2 cups of raisins.  I had both regular raisins and golden raisins, so I started with a cup of each.  I put them in a colander.
Run hot water over the raisins to wash them, then drain them well.  I just left draining in the colander while I mixed up the flour.

 Prepare a skillet by greasing it. I just used a stick of butter to grease my skillet.   Sometimes I cook this in a round cake pan. Sometimes I use my round skillet.  You can also use a 2 quart casserole dish.

Preheat the oven to 375*
 In a bowl, mix together 4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder.
I mix it with a pastry cutter, then blend in 1/4 cup Crisco with the cutter. (I don't use much shortening, so find it easier to keep a few pre-measured Crisco sticks in the fridge -- easy to measure, too-- just cut off 1/4 cup!!)  When the Crisco is blended in, add the raisins.
In a separate bowl, beat an egg then add a teaspoon of baking soda and 1 1/3 cup buttermilk.  (I didn't have buttermilk, so I put about 2 ounces vinegar in the bottom of my measuring cup then added milk up to 1 1/3 cup to make soured milk.

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture, then turn out on a floured counter and kneed it just a little bit.  Shape it into a ball, then press it down in the skillet or casserole dish.  Take a sharp knife and cut an X about 1/4 deep across the top of it.  Then dust with flour (I forgot this part, but it still looked good!!).

Bake until brown and baked through, about 55 minutes.  Remove to a cake rack. (especially if you cooked it in a skillet -- I discovered that it keeps cooking in the pan and gets a little done if you forget and leave it in).

Cool before serving.  At dinner, I poured some broth off the corned beef over my chuck of bread (we 'break the bread' rather than cut it) and it was DELICIOUS!!

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