“what her aunt has just set down in front of her is a plate covered with a kind of nearly transparent soup with a few pieces of hardboiled eggs floating in it.”
Michel Tremblay, Crossing the Continent, p.89
Recipe Notes (by Alexia Moyer)
This plate of eggs goldenrod, served to 10-year-old Rhéauna by her Tante Régina in Regina, Saskatchewan is, evidently, somewhat lacklustre.
But the bread is good. Delicious even.
My bread making skills are slender, though I have been known to press the “on” button of my bread machine with a certain degree of panache.
But what kind of bread? This is where Shelley Boyd, my generous Regina-born colleague, extended a helping hand with her copy of Amy Jo Ehman’s Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens.
From the chapter, “Bread, Biscuits, and Bannock,” I have chosen the “Irish Soda Bread,” which uses baking soda as the leavening agent. It’s a quick bread. No need to wait for the dough to rise. As Ehman recounts, this was a staple of pioneer Saskatchewan kitchens, used particularly in months when yeast was like to freeze.
I suspect that this bread will make regular appearances at our winter table – slathered in butter, the perfect accompaniment to soups and stews. On days where decadence is in order, I may even add raisins.
Irish Soda Bread (from Amy Jo Ehman’s Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- A tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups buttermilk
- Holding back 1/2 cup flour, blend the dry ingredients. Pour in buttermilk. Mix quickly with a fork and then your fingers, adding the remaining flour as needed to produce a dough that is not sticky.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead briefly, no more than a minute or two.
- Place the ball of dough on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, slash an X that is a good one-inch deep. The slash allows the bread to rise and ensures the centre is cooked.
- Bake at 425°F for 35 – 40 minutes, until the bread is quite brown and a good tap on the bottom sounds hollow.
Ehman, Amy Jo. Out of Old Saskatchewan Kitchens. Lunenburg: MacIntyre Purcell Publishing, 2014. Print.
Tremblay, Michel. Crossing the Continent. Trans. Sheila Fischman. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2011. Print.
Photo Credit: Alexia Moyer