I’m a fan of authenticity, like a nice Smithwick’s ale, for instance, when I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Every year, for this favorite holiday of my Grandpa O’Brien, I serve up Spotted Dog Soda Bread.
Or Irish Cheddar Waffles. Or any nibble that celebrates the great baking or dairy or seafood delights of Ireland.
This recipe is a riff on a classic soda bread loaf, crossed with Seedy Salt Bread created by Kismet Farm and Bakery in southwest Michigan.
Kismet uses poppy seed in its famed sour dough bread, but I’ve amplified mine with a mix of poppy, caraway and dill seed, mixed with a whisper of fennel seed, because with fennel a little goes a long way.
If you have pepitas, be sure to add them.
Essential Irish lore
Now, this part is essential: Do not skip cutting the cross in the scones. In Irish lore, this is to let the fairies out, because one would never want to bake fairies into a scone. The consequences boggle the mind. In more contemporary Christian tradition, a cross is a blessing. So many reasons to never skip this step.
Seedy Soda Bread Scones
Makes six to eight
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup seeds: use one to two tablespoons each celery seed, caraway seed, poppy seed, oor sunflower seed, plus one teaspoon fennel seed
1 egg, beaten, for glaze
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and half the seeds in a large mixing bowl and form a well in the center. Pour in most of the buttermilk. Moving your hand in a circular motion, mix in flour from the sides of the bowl until the dough comes together. Add more buttermilk if necessary. Dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead two or three times – this is the time to move fast while the baking soda works its magic.
Pat into a rectangle about one inch thick. Cut into six or eight squares, then cut an X through the center of each, about half way down. Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with remaining seeds. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.