One of the many things I admire about French culture is the richesse of the rites and rituals of life’s most simple pleasures. Shifting one’s focus from the glitz and plastic of the eventfulness and moving to better celebrate the event itself. The daily trip to the boulangerie for your baguette, the importance of choosing the right head of lettuce for your salad or taking the time to greet each individual when arriving somewhere rather than a blanket – hey. I like that. Life is, as Hemingway so aptly phrased it, A Movable Feast. Amen.
Trying to emphasize the joy in the quotidian is my aim, and I stumbled upon this wonderful blog event: Bread Baking Day which does just that. A diverse group of foodie-bloggers who commune once a month to share their daily bread. I only just baked my first loaf of bread about six months ago, but I’m hooked (jar of sourdough starter in fridge), and I am thrilled to have found an event to convene with other confirmed and wanna-be bread bakers for inspiration.
I find the ritual of baking bread to be (at the risk of sounding a little bit out there) a veritable spiritual experience. Very grounding, but spiritual at the same time. Maybe there is something in my genetic memory that feels rekindled and soothed by the kneading, the unmistakable smell of bread baking in the oven, a feeling of community-family-unity wafting from the kitchen… or maybe it’s just my stomach growling?
This month’s host Wild Yeast (who has a really beautiful blog with truly wonderful photography – food for the eyes) chose the theme “Celebration Breads” and with so many things to celebrate for so many different cultures during the month of March, it was difficult to decide.
I had been eyeing the recipe for raisin soda bread in Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan for some time now, but hadn’t gotten around to making it – and decided that Saint Patrick’s Day was my opportunity. Despite it’s dense look, this bread was not heavy, but a bit spongy (in a good way, I don’t have my baker’s jargon down) it was très moelleux, but had a nice, crunchy crust, and had just a hint of sweet. The Guppy and I enjoyed it for our “quatre heures” or tea, and it thrilled me to see her eating something with raisins in it! (She’s in that “I’m almost three and don’t need to eat anything” phase.) It was also the easiest-to-make bread I’ve ever thrown together.
Jen’s Raisin Soda Bread from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer
*notes : the recipe states that you can use cranberries in lieu of raisins, or you can add 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest.
- 2 1/4 cups ap flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp sugar (I only used one)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp caraway seeds
- 1/2 cup raisins (I used both white & normal)
- 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used plain soy)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
“Pre-heat the oven to 350°F(175°C). Lightly oil a 9-inch bread pan and set aside. (**In a small bowl, add milk & cider vinegar and just let sit & curdle.) In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, caraway seeds, and raisins. Add the milk and vinegar and gently stir dough until “just mixed”. Pour evenly into loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 1 loaf.
**I find that mixing the vinegar & soymilk and letting them curdle makes for better leavening than just mixing them into the flour at the end.
EDITED TO SAY: Generally Bread Baking Day posts don’t go up until closer to the first of the month, but since my super-cute-mumma is coming to visit from the states I wanted to be sure to get this up on time!