Excuse me, but where on earth did the first half of March go? Did it even happen? How are we almost one-quarter of the way through 2015 already? How did my baby boy actually turn TWO last week?! Hold me.
Don’t get me wrong–I’ve basically been waiting for March 17th since August 2013, which is when I officially started writing Real Sweet. And now March 17th is almost here, and my third (!!) cookbook is about to be born into the world. Unreal. I really hope you’ve pre-ordered, because all signs are pointing to you getting a copy delivered to you on the release date, as opposed to having to actually drive to a store and buy it like in the olden days. Hooray! But I guess now would be as good a time as any to admit that I will likely be stalking bookstores during the entire first week, gently sliding the book into a highly visible spot on the its shelf. (Any author who tells you they don’t do that is straight-up lying, by the way.)
Next Tuesday, March 17th will also be an awesome day to come back to this very site, because I have a huge, pretty freaking phenomenal giveaway planned for you for the launch of Real Sweet! Yesssssss.
And! As it turns out, March 17th has been a very important day looong before my publisher decided to release a volume of my blood, sweat, tears, and a celebration of natural sugars on said date. Imagine that! It’s St. Patrick’s Day, of course–one of the best food holidays ever. Corned beef and cabbage! Potatoes galore! GREEN BEER, PEOPLE. What’s not to love?
In addition to that aforementioned green beer, I also love the abundance of soda bread in stores and bakeries this time of year. So humble, so simple, so perfect. Buttered or not, toasted or not, it’s a total delight. I’ve always loved making it, because it’s basically like a giant biscuit/quickbread hybrid. Bread for lazy people! Sign me up.
A while back, I started working with the awesome team at Ulive to create a series of baking videos featuring the simplest, most crave-worthy recipes that are totally doable on a regular old weekday. We’re calling the series “One-Dish Wonders”, and the first video just popped up on the ULive site the other day. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, and in honor of Real Sweet-style recipes (which is to say delicious baked things packed with better-for-you, less-refined ingredients), I’ve decided to go rogue and put a California twist on a classic Irish soda bread. Glorious! Click below to hop on over to Ulive and check it out!
Chia Superseed Soda Bread
Makes 1 9-inch loaf
Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, and the star here. Bright green pepitas and earthy sunflower seeds add color and textural interest. You can experiment with the seeds here as well—flax makes a nice addition, too.
I like a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour, but you can also use all all-purpose, or a blend of three-quarters all-purpose and one-quarter stone ground 100% whole wheat flour.
This savory formula lends itself to so many awesome riffs—consider grated hard cheeses like parmesan or cheddar, various spices, chili flakes, or a smattering of fresh herbs.
Making this style of soda bread is a lot like making biscuits, so the pillars of success hold true here as well—keep the butter and buttermilk cold, and don’t overwork the dough.
This is best eaten fresh the day it’s made, but is great toasted and buttered on subsequent days.
2 cups (8 ½ ounces/240 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons chia seeds, divided
3 tablespoons pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds), divided
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds, divided
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/57 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon (15 ounces/425 grams) cold low-fat buttermilk, well-shaken
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. Line a 12×17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and pepper.
Reserving about 1 teaspoon of each seed in a small bowl for garnish. Add the remaining chia seeds, pepitas, and sunflower seeds to the flour mixture and whisk to blend well. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal without any obvious little chunks of butter in the mix.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and honey. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Use a large flexible spatula to gently stir to form a sticky dough—don’t overmix.
Lightly dust a work surface and your hands with flour. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead the dough just a few times to bring it together and form it into a 6-inch ball. Use a thin, sharp knife to slice a deep “X” across the top of the bread. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the entire loaf with the remaining 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. Sprinkle over the reserved seeds and flaky sea salt.
Bake until the bread is deeply golden and sounds hollow when tapped, about 45 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
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