I decided against writing the cliché “end of the year” post focusing on my resolutions, goals, and dreams for the next year. Whatever I wrote would just come off sounding trite, insincere, and a copy of what others have written. I do write goals down every year, but I couldn’t make myself do it this time. After thinking about it, I decided I really only have one thing that I want to change, and that is my attitude. I need to be more positive. More positive about my circumstances, more positive about the people around me, and, more than anything else, more positive about me. My life, like everyone’s, I suppose, is full of successes and failures, and I spend way too much time focusing on the failures. Life is challenging and stressful, which I can do nothing about. What I can do, however, is change how I deal with those things. It may sound silly, but one example of that is the challenge I have had in making and shooting an artisan loaf of bread. I have tried and tried and tried again and have yet to get it right. I gave up for awhile, thinking it was impossible. What is silly, though, is that I shouldn’t have given up. I absolutely love to bake bread. The kneading, the shaping, the smell of it baking in the oven… all of it is therapeutic. That is what I need to focus on. Not the end result. So, this year, I will try again. My goal will not be to get it perfect, because that may not ever happen. My goal will be to enjoy the process. To celebrate the fact that even if it is an abysmal mess and I can’t shoot it, it will still taste good and my family will love the effort. In the meantime, I will enjoy the fact that I can make this wonderfully simple soda bread that looks and tastes delicious. Happy New Year!
Brown Butter Soda Bread[recipe by epicurious]
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional for topping
1 3/4 cups buttermilk*
1 egg white, beaten to blend
Place rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat until it turns nice and brown. This takes about three minutes. Remove from the heat.
Mix together the flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Pour the buttermilk and brown butter over the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork until the flour mixture is moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work area. Knead very gently until the dough comes together, only about 6-7 turns (a light touch is good). Divide the dough in half and shape each into a ball. Flatten into 6-inch rounds and place on ungreased baking sheets spaced 5 inches apart. Brush the tops with the beaten egg white and sprinkle lightly with pepper. Cut a 1/2″ deep X into the top of each loaf with a sharp knife.
Place in oven and bake approximately 45 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown and a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool on rack for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.
*I don’t usually have buttermilk as one of the staples in my refrigerator. There is an easy substitute however. Pour 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring it up to the one-cup line. Mix together and let it stand for five minutes.