March 23, 2015 · 11:44 am
For most people, the Spanish word “mañana” means “morning” or “tomorrow”. But around here, we know the real meaning: “not today”. So here it is, several days late, my effort at a Southwestern version of Irish soda bread. This way I don’t have to make apologies for missing Saint Patrick’s Day.
There are several differences between this recipe and classic Irish soda bread:
First, the predominant flour is whole wheat. There are some soda bread recipes that use whole whet flour, but our family recipe calls for all-purpose flour.
Second, blue corn meal has been substituted for some of the whole wheat flour. These days you should be able to buy it locally. Bob’s Red Mill has unusual flours in most grocery stores, but a local mill, Talon de Gato Farm, takes email orders.
Third, I have added gluten. Corn meal has no gluten, so the additional gluten gives some extra lift in the oven; but if you are leery of gluten, you can certainly omit it. Still, the loaf will not be gluten-free because of the other flours.
Fourth, there is a little bit of baking powder; again to give some extra rising power. Most “authentic” recipes use only baking soda and buttermilk for leavening.
Finally, I have added green chiles and a good melting cheese. I used 4 ounces of canned chopped mild chiles, but you may want more and hotter. Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey jack, and asadero are all good cheese choices. Again, you can add more if you like.
Out of the oven to cool completely
The crusty top with melted cheese and green chiles
Wrap the cooled loaf in a slightly dampened kitchen towel for a few hours.
Cut the loaf in thin slices
Ready for butter and any other topping you choose.
Santa Fe-Style Soda Bread
- 3 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup blue corn meal (yellow or white will work if you can’t find blue)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon powdered gluten
- 4 ounces canned, chopped green chiles, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup grated cheese (Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey jack, or asadero)
- 2 cups buttermilk
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: whole-wheat flour, corn meal, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and gluten.
- Stir in the green chiles and grated cheese. Then stir in the buttermilk and mix until well-combined and the dough has begun to come together.
- Turn the dough out on a well-floured work surface. Knead for only a minute or two to bring everything together. If the dough is a little sticky, sprinkle sparingly with more flour and fold in.
- Shape the dough into a round and place it in a heavily buttered 8-inch cake pan. With a sharp knife, cut a ½-inch deep X in the top of the loaf.
- Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until it is lightly browned and sounds like a drum when thumped on the bottom with a knuckle.
- Remove from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool.
- Wrap loosely in a barely damp clean kitchen towel for 6 hours. This will help the loaf to firm up so that it can be cut more easily.
- For serving, cut very thin slices and serve with soft butter. Jam or other toppings your option.
January 1, 2014 · 4:19 pm
One of our family’s favorite breads is Chunk o’Cheese. The original recipe was developed by Mrs. Richard W. Ojakangas from Duluth, Minnesota. With it she won Second Grand Prize in the ninth annual Pillsbury Grand National Bake-Off. The recipe was published in Best of the Bake-Off Collection, Book Publishing Industries, Inc., 1959, page 21. Since then, the recipe has been reprinted numerous times in various cookbooks and recipe collections as well as on the internet.
Chunk o’cheese loaves fresh out of the oven
During a recent visit to Los Angeles, I made the bread with my grandson, who had a great time pushing the little chunks of cheese into the dough. That is a very important step, because cheese on the surface of the dough melts in the oven. It can make a big mess. For that reason, be sure to line your baking pans with aluminum foil Also be sure to remove the foil from the finished loaves while they are still cooling. Otherwise you will wind up with pieces of aluminum foil stuck in the cracks of the firmed-up bread.
All it needs is some butter
The basic recipe is really the very old-time American classic, anadama bread, but the cheese sets it apart. The original recipe called for American cheese. (That and Velveeta were the kinds of cheese found in most American kitchens in the 1950s.) I prefer to use sharp Cheddar, but you can choose your favorite so long as it melts easily. Monterey jack, Muenster, Swiss, mozzarella, or provolone will also work. You can even try a mixture of cheeses. I have also added a little whole wheat flour to make the loaf even more flavorful and crunchy.
Chunk o’Cheese Bread
- In a 2 quart saucepan, combine 1 3/4 cups of the warm water, cornmeal, and salt. Stir until smooth. Then place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Continue to stir until thickened, about 5 minutes after it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in molasses and butter or shortening. Cool to lukewarm.
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the remaining ½ cup of warm water. Add the cornmeal mixture and blend thoroughly.
- Stir in the whole wheat flour until well combined. Then, one cup at a time, stir in 3½ cups of the all-purpose flour to form a sticky dough.
- Spread the remaining 1 cup of flour onto a clean work surface. Place the dough on the flour and knead until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Return the dough to the washed, dried, and greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Turn the risen dough onto a work surface sprinkled with cornmeal, and work the cheese cubes into the dough by flattening the dough, sprinkling with about ¼ of the cubes, and folding over the dough, then repeating the process until all of the cheese cubes are incorporated. Make sure that all of the cheese cubes are covered.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces.
- Shape into two round loaves. Place in two 8 or 9 inch cake pans tightly lined with well-greased aluminum foil. Make sure the cheese cubes are well covered. Otherwise they will melt during baking and make cleanup difficult. Cover the shaped loaves with a clean cloth and let rise until doubled.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 1 hour. Test for doneness. When the loaves are baked, remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Remove any bits of aluminum foil that cling to the loaves while they are still warm. Otherwise you will have a hard time removing the foil.
- Cool completely before slicing. although you will be tempted to try an early sample.