St. Pat’s = Irish Soda Bread!

March 17, 2009

brbuttsodabread21As a second generation Irish girl, nothing makes me happier than a dinner of beef, potatoes and a fresh toasty loaf of Irish Soda Bread.  On St. Patrick’s Day, this dinner is absolutely essential.  I’ve made many different forms of soda bread over the years, some containing caraway seeds and flax, others containing generous amounts of roasted garlic.  But as my grandmother taught me, traditional soda bread should be simple; in fact, real soda bread contains nothing more than flour, butter, baking soda and salt.   Why no yeast?  Because of the Irish climate, hard wheat could not be grown (which rises nicely when yeast is added).  To make up for this, the Irish used baking soda as a leavening agent, which is why the delicious result is called Soda Bread.

I’ve never been a fan of the versions containing bits like caraway seeds, raisins or currants (Martha Stewart’s, sadly, is one such recipe), so the two I’m including and had success with contain none of those extras.  The key to soda bread is to never overwork the dough.  Only mix until the ingredients are moistened and the dough ball is formed.  Overworking it will destroy the bread.  The first recipe is more savory, slightly more impressive and great for dinner.  The second is more traditional and simple and I love it for breakfast with jam (although it works for any meal, really).

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Pepperidge Farm Light Style 7 Grain Bread

March 15, 2009

light-style-7-grain While I am someone who definitely enjoys bread, when I fix my own sandwiches I can never bring myself to eat 400 calories worth of it every single time.  Also, I can no longer justify spending at least 5 dollars on a sandwich everyday for my lunch break.  Since it’s time to start being frugal and creative, I was naturally led to one of the big staple sections of the grocery store: the bread aisle.  Let me tell you, as someone who always likes to try new brands and products, variety can be just as overwhelming as it is exciting, and the bread aisle is one of the most overwhelming sections of all.

I’m usually a huge fan of Arnold Bakery Light 7 Grain, but when I saw Pepperidge Farm Light Style 7 Grain, I decided to give it a try. Needless to say, Arnold beat Pepperidge out of the water. The Arnold bakery has a delicious, almost buttery taste and a nice soft crust that is never dried out; it has never seemed like a “light” bread to me. Even though I often toast my sandwiches, I would argue that the Arnold bread is at its best completely unheated. Alternately, the Pepperidge Farm bread had a strangely dry crust that tasted like cardboard and wasn’t the easiest to bite, so I decided to make another sandwich toasted to see if the taste or texture improved. They didn’t. The grains, while they clearly existed in the bread, were tasteless. Altogether it did not make for the moist, delicious light style bread I was hoping Pepperidge Farm would be able to put together. They should stick to items like Milanos, where the two main ingredients are butter and chocolate. They have those down to an absolute art form.

Stars: 3/5

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size: 1 Slice.  45 Calories.  0 Calories from Fat.  0g Fat.  0g Cholesterol.  90mg Sodium.  9g Carbohydrates.  1g Dietary Fiber.  1g Sugar.  2g Protein.  2% Calcium.  2% Iron.  1 WW Point for 2 Slices.

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