Irish Soda Bread – my St. Patrick’s Day bread

Irish Soda Bread

This is the recipe I always used for St. Patrick’s Day. Usually I make one big round loaf using my largest pyrex bowl from the set of three.

I made two loaves with the full recipe.

This time though I decided to make two smaller loaves so I could share one with my friend Ann Marie, shh, it’s a surprise!

The two loaves cooling, gosh the house smelled wonderful!

After 10 minutes cooling, you can take the bread out of the bowls to finish.

Oh deliciousness!

If you can resist, it tastes best the day after you make it. Let it cool totally, wrap up tightly the RESIST! Well I usually can’t do that…resist that is, so I have a nice slice after dinner with coffee. Well you do have to test it to make sure it’s good enough for everyone right?

Irish Soda Bread – Makes one big loaf or two smaller ones.  Directions also follow for mixing it up for jar mixes.
Preheat oven 375 F and grease your bowl(s).
4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 T caraway seeds
1/4 c butter, (1/2 stick) softened
1 c raisins
1 1/3 c buttermilk (or 1 1/3 c milk with 1 T + 1 tsp of vinegar or lemon juice added to the measuring glass first. )
1 egg

1. Put your sifter into or over a bowl then put in it- flour, sugar, salt and baking powder, baking soda, then sift into bowl.

2. Cut in butter with pastry blender until like course crumbs, rub in with fingers if you need to also.

3. Mix in caraway seeds and raisins.

4. Combine the milk, egg and baking soda and mix well. I measure the milk into a large liquid measuring cup then add the other things to it.

5. Stir into the flour mixture, mix with fork first then use bowl scraper or big rubber spatula.

6. Turn dough onto floured surface, I do it right on my counter top. Knead lightly until smooth, really hardly at all, just to form a ball shape, dough will be soft.  Shape into a ball then spray a pyrex bowl (the large one of a set of three) with spray vegetable oil. OR divide dough in two and put each in medium sized bowl.

7. Put dough in and cut a deep cross or X into it with a knife, (to release the fairies!) gently push it apart so it’s slightly open. Take one egg yolk and brush (or use fingers) on top and into cracks.

8. Bake one hour, (for two smaller loaves bake 50 minutes) cool in bowl 10 min. then remove to finish cooling.

This tastes best the next day, if you can resist! Wrap well and store in ziplock bag as you use it up.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe Post Card postcard
Click the picture above to see a glossy recipe post card you can order for your self or send to a friend. (Or put your own favorite recipe and photo on it using my template!)

Full sized loaf of whole wheat soda bread I made another time using this recipe.

** Another version: 1/2 golden raisins, 1/2 regular raisins,  no caraway seeds, 1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour, 2 c regular flour, 1/2 c oatmeal.

** Another version I tried: leave out the raisins and seeds, cut sugar to 1/8 c, use 2 c whole wheat flour, 2 c white whole wheat flour, add a bit more of the baking soda, I added a LOT of Italian seasoning and parsley, some basil this was good, but I also added dried cut up tomato and this was ok, wouldn’t add next time, but mine were quite dry.

** The original recipe has you add the baking soda with the milk and egg, then add it all at once to the dry mixture. I found no difference really by adding it with the dry ingredients, the mix the egg and milk and add. Just have your oven ready because with soda breads and scones you want to get them into the oven right away.

** For putting into jars to mix small loaf when you want it. I love doing this with recipes because I’m only baking for one or two and this way I can make smaller amounts and have it ready quicker!

1. Mix in a big bowl:
4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Write out instructions on a small paper, tape to the jar.

2. Divide between two (2 c) mason jars, about 2 c + 3-4T each or divide putting some in a jar and some into a bowl to make into bread right away.
3. Put these instructions on the jar (cover the paper with wide clear tape totally and it will last longer): To make put contents into bowl.
4. Cut in 2 T (1/4 stick) softened butter, then rub in till like crumbs.
5. Add 1/2 c raisins + 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (if adding these things)
6. Mix 1/2 an egg with 5 1/2 oz OR 1/2c + 3 1/2 T of Buttermilk (or add 2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice to milk) Mix in with flour with fork then use bowl scraper to get into a dough. Put on floured cupboard and lightly knead into a ball. Put in greased Med. Bowl cut X in top and brush with remaining egg. Bake 375 for 50 min.

I also add the dry ingredients list to make new batches on the back side.

I also put the dry ingredients list on the jar so I can easily make new batches and refill. Try all kinds of variations with your soda bread. Decrease sugar if making a savoury bread for dinner.

Enjoy baking and let me know if you try this bread!

Don’t forget to check out my shop on Zazzle, lots of spring cards and gifts and glossy recipe cards you can send. GO HERE


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Cookies!

I have a good friends who every few months have “Movie Night” at their house.  It’s well organized as he does themes for the year and usually starts with some interesting information about the film that I never knew.  The folks who come are all interesting to talk to as most are interested in culture; there’s a few retired professors from the local University and even some that come down from Canada just to attend!

Glazed and waiting to be eaten

This year it’s Sci-Fi and last night was “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne, a Walt Disney film. I won’t go into the detail of cool things I learned about the movie but just tell you about the cookies I made. They were a real hit and everyone loved them! It took a bit of effort on my part but I’m glad I took the time as everyone had a good time talking about them (and eating them!)

Use waxed paper between layers.

It’s a basic Butter Cookie dough that I’ve used for cut out cookies, and you can too. But you can also play around with the dough as I did and shape them by hand. I’ll give you tips under each photo that will help you make them successfully. I do hope you try them or at least creating something then let me know how it went for you.

Glazed with yellow sugar-milk-vanilla glaze

To glaze the cookies wait until they are totally cool, this insures less breakage when you handle them. Make a drippy glaze in a cup by putting about 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar in then drizzle in some vanilla (I didn’t measure, just don’t overdo it) maybe about 1 tsp or so, and start mixing; now add a drizzle of milk, just a tad! Mix it up and you’ll be surprised at how little milk will make it runny. You want it sort of runny so it glazes easier. Add a drop or so of food coloring and mix. Using  a spoon gently touch the cookie as you let glaze drizzle out, I keep contact with the spoon and it helps to guide the glaze where you want it to go.  Don’t put so much that it runs down the sides only because it’ll make it harder to move them without breaking tentacles later!

Dusted with powdered sugar for something different

Besides glazing you can leave the cookies plain or dust with confectioner’s sugar. With any you can still taste the yummy goodness of this basic butter cookie. My favorite part was nibbling off the tentacles! They are crispy golden and when you pick up a cookie it’s the first thing you want to eat! How fun! If the cookies aren’t too ‘detailed’ you can also brush with egg white and sprinkle with colored sugar then bake; this is usually what I do for cut outs.

whoa...a whole bunch of squid monsters!

These are cooling from the oven…can you see how each one is different? This is what makes them so fun. Now my boyfriend saw them and said if you look at them upside down, they could be a Medusa head! Oh…what a fun idea! Can you picture it?

So, onto the cookies! I’ll put the recipe here then below pictures with detailed explanation and tips.

Butter Cookie Dough (for cut outs or hand shaping):

1 c butter (2 sticks or 8 oz) softened
2/3 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c sifted flour

1. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C.
2. Cream butter and sugar well.
3. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
4. Sift the flour, measure and add a bit at a time mixing in well each time.
5. On floured surface roll dough out and cut with cookie cutters. Lift the dough and move it around a bit and re-flour if needed before you cut out, this way they don’t stick to the counter as much. Or just follow my directions below to hand shape them.
6. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 8-10 minutes depending on their size, look for edges to get golden . For shaped cookies, let them cool for 3 minutes on the pan before removing them.

I sifted flour right in my flour container

I’m pretty laze about sifting flour first for recipes, especially cookies, but for this one it says ‘sifted flour’ so I just sifted a pile into my container then gently scooped up to measure. I then sifted more and repeated until I had enough, it wasn’t a big deal to do it this way.

Start with a walnut sized ball

Ok, so first step is to start with a walnut sized ball. See how my hands are floury and the ball slightly floury? That’s how you want it, NOT sticky.

With flour dusted hands roll it into a log

Roll the ball into a log with your hands, if it feels at all sticky, just dust your hands with flour again or roll the log on the counter to pick up flour then roll it in your hands and the flour will disappear. It shouldn’t feel sticky is the point.

On a floured counter pat it out into an oblong shape making it wider at one end.

Now place the log on the floured counter and using your finger tips gently pat it out flat. You will coax it into shape by patting flat with fingers of one hand while the other hand will push the edge to make it into a shape. Like here my left hand is keeping the bottom from spreading and the dough will go wider as I press with my right hand (fingers). Of course I’m holding the camera so you can’t see it in action!  You can see it looks a bit squareish on the right, I then used my fingers to push it in and round it.

(I’m sorry if it seems I’m over explaining this to those of you who ‘get it’, I like to give a full description for those who have little experience in the kitchen, I guess it’s the teacher in me!)

Cut in the middle leaving 1/3 uncut.

Lift the piece of dough and lay it near the edge of the ‘floured’ counter like so. It helps to lift with an icing spatula, you can see mine in the picture above showing the ball of dough. Take a sharp knife or use the edge of the spatula to cut the dough up the middle, cut 2/3 up. The top is the head so how ever long your shape is will determine how long the tentacles are.

Cut each side piece into three

You’re going to cut each side into three parts, just keep the dough straight and make two cuts. BUT first! Here is the important tip!! When you cut, the dough will want to stick to your knife. As you lift it out, lift from the handle first in a rocking motion so the dough falls away from the knife and won’t pull on the dough near the tip of the knife. This is important because the trickiest part of making these is not pulling the tentacles off! You don’t want to ever pull the dough at the base of the tentacles, you’ll see what I mean when you do it. Wipe the blade off between cuts and use some flour on it if you want.

Six tentacles for a squid, but I don't think it matters, they are what you tell people they are, squid or octopus!

It’s really not that hard once you start doing them.

Lift gently and lay on cookie sheet

Use your icing spatula to help you lift the head then it’s easy to get your fingers under and lift the whole thing up. Gently lay on an ungreased cookie sheet. I put four on each sheet only because while some were baking I’d be working on them and it’s hard to get more done than that.

Gently pinch tentacles to make them more rounded.

After you lay it on the COOLED sheet, start with the outer legs and gently round each tentacle by lightly pinching with your fingertips then curve them up by the head. Then you do the rest of the legs being careful always not to pull on the legs at all.

Make eye holes with the end of a chop stick.

Use a pointed end of a chopstick or something similar to make holes for eyes. Stick it into the dough then make a circular motion to push the dough aside and create a hole, don’t make it too small or it’ll puff shut when you bake it. I found it helpful to hold the dough in place with the other hand while doing it. Do one cookie start to finish because the dough may get sticky if you let it sit on the cookie sheet waiting.

Put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes, mine took 10. Check to see if they are golden on the tips of the tentacles, give the cookie sheet a turn when you check them for even baking. When you remove them from the oven, set the timer for three minutes and let the cookies cool for that long. I found they were cooled enough to let them slide off easily but still just warm enough that they didn’t want to stick to the pan. Use the icing spatula to lift them off, making sure first that every tentacle etc is loose.

Close up of a scary squid...I'm not afraid, I'll eat his arms off! mmwahahahaha

I hope you’ll try to make something with this dough and let me know! I’ve even used it at Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day by tinting some of the dough then making striped candy canes or shamrocks….hm…I may have to make them again just so I can photograph them and show you. Click the picture below to see the recipe and photos as a glossy note card you can send or keep!

The next movie night is March 31 and it’s Ulysses so my imagination is already having fun thinking of what I can make! Sign up on the left sidebar to follow my posts if you like and leave me comments if you want! Now time to get back to my painting…and eating cookies…

Bird Nest in Winter Poem and Card

This is a sketch I did the other day while out walking in my field, I posted on my website blog about it here. After I created a card for it and wrote a poem, inspired by this drawing of a birds nest. Please click to see it in my shop, you can add whatever words you want inside and change the color on the front!

Cookie Exchange Invitations!

Are you planning on having a cookie exchange? I created Invitations in my Zazzle shop that have pictures of  “Grandma Judge’s Peanut Butter Cookies” on them and the cards look so cool it makes me want to have a Cookie Exchange!

Here’s a link to see them, and a photo below. You can change the photo to one of your own cookies and all the text is ready for you to put in what you want, so easy! They come with envelopes and are printed on both sides.

Grandma Judge’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Nothing like stacks of home made peanut butter cookies!

This has to be one of my favorite recipes, these cookies come out light and crispy and you’ll be grabbing a glass of cold milk to dunk them in before long.

Here’s the ingredients:

1 c shortening

1 c sugar

1 c brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 c flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 c peanut butter

1. Cream the shortening and sugars well, then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

2. In another medium size bowl, put the flour, baking soda and salt and mix. I use a whisk to mix it together. Now add it to the creamed mixture.

3. Add the peanut butter and mix well.

4. Put balls on ungreased cookie sheet and squish gently with a fork.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

cookie dough in the mixer

make balls of dough with your hands

If the dough is a little dry, just kind of push the dough together more than roll it. Sometimes I put dough in the refrigerator to bake the next day, these will get just a bit dry but still work fine.

pressing with a fork

Gently press with a fork after putting on the cookie sheet. If the dough is a bit dry (see above) then you can use your fingers to gently press the sides of the dough in as you squish.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ahh…excuse me while I go pour that glass of cold milk! Click on the note card I created below, it has the recipe printed on it so you can cut it off and have a glossy photo recipe card! In my Zazzle shop.

Grandma Judge’s Oatmeal Cookies

stacks of cookies...yummm

This is a recipe my mom made every year at Christmas and sometimes during the year because they were so popular with us; it was from her mom, my Grandma Judge. They are a light and crispy cookie that have several spices in them. My mom used the Quaker 5 minute oats but because I buy the whole rolled oats, I use that, they have a bit more texture but the same great taste. I also add chocolate chips to half of the dough because, well you know…gotta love chocolate chips!
Here’s the ingredients list first:
1  1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c shortening (crisco or other brand of vegetable solid white short.)
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2  1/2 c oatmeal (uncooked!)
1 c raisins
1 c nuts (we use walnuts but you can use pecans or whatever floats your boat)
1 c chocolate chips…optional, I add this but then just throw in more until it looks well saturated with chips..hee hee…
Here’s the easy instructions with some photos following, have fun!  (ALWAYS  WASH your hands first!!)
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Put the sugars and shortening in mixer bowl and cream until fluffy.
3. Set your flour sifter in a medium bowl, put the flour followed by the spices and powders into it and sift into the bowl.
4. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture using a small measuring cup, add some then let it mix in, add more, let it mix. Scrape down the dough sometimes from the sides of the bowl. Oh yes, do it on low so it doesn’t ‘puff’ out all over!
5. With mixer still on low, add oatmeal and mix well.
6. Add nuts and raisins and mix well. It’s a stiff dough and will climb up the bowl, tame the beast by pushing it back into the bowl. You can add those chips now, or wait and bake half this dough, then mix in some by hand to the remaining dough.
7. Use a teaspoon to scoop up a bit of dough and put on a lightly greased cookie sheet. I can fit 12 on one sheet and just spray a bit of vegetable oil spray on it then rub it around with your hand. If you don’t have that you can use the solid shortening and rub it on with your hand or a paper towel. (Don’t be afraid to use your hands, you’ll be washing them a lot and the oil is good for them!)
8. Bake 10-12 minutes. In my oven it takes 12 minutes. Then remove them with a spatula/pancake turner to cool on a rack.
Click on any picture to see enlargement.
mixing the dough

mixing the dough

Add a little at a time and let it mix well after each addition.

smashing the nuts

I don’t ever chop nuts anymore, I put them in a ziplock bag (the heavy freezer bags are best) and then I gently whack them with the side of a meat tenderizer. Can you gently whack something? It’s great, no mess, no flying nuts onto the floor, just smash then pour them into your measuring cup. (no need to seal the bag, just don’t overfill it)

oatmeal cookie dough filled with goodies!

cooling on the rack

cookies close up

stacks of cookies...yummm

Time to call the munchkins in to eat ’em! Oops, they smelled them a long time ago and are already snitching some!

Click on the picture below to see a Note Card I created with the recipe printed on the back of the photo, you can cut it off and have a recipe card with a glossy photo! Great idea to send someone who loves to bake.

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