Buttermilk adds a sweet taste to traditional Irish soda bread.
December 21, 2005 - I studied Medieval English Literature in college. It was a graduation requirement, but I found it fascinating after I got the hang of the language and the old, or should I say olde, spellings.
I was never good at spelling and my extensive reading of old English didn't help in my journalism courses.
For me it was more than fascination, it was heritage.
Medieval writers talked about the same things my parents and Irish relatives discussed.
Some of those books and poems have stuck with me even though I didn't get an "A'' in the class.
I was able to find numerous poems and prose from the Milligan clan's little corner of Ireland, some credited and some anonymous.
I wasn't looking for recipes, but I noticed references to soda bread dating back nearly as far as the Canterbury Tales. In one of those anonymous scripts was a reference to "such bread as ours mingled with aniseeds.''
I never heard of anise seeds on soda bread, but my mom said she'd seen it with caraway seeds on special occasions.
3½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425° fahrenheit.
Lightly flour baking sheet. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk slowly while stirring to form clumps of dough. Gather dough into ball.
Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or just long enough that dough holds together. Shape dough into a round about two inches high. and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cut an "X'' across the top from edge to edge.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer and cool completely before serving.