Kindergarteners make Soda Bread for St. Pat’s

I love if my students are able to retain even just a speck of information when we have visitors. Even if parts of it are wrong. Case in point yesterday. We’re making Soda Bread for St. Pat’s. I explain soda bread has its name because baking soda is used as the leavening agent, rather than yeast. It is probably too much for kindergarteners to comprehend– they can rarely remember the name of what we’re making.

Low and behold a surprise guest walks in.

“What are you making today?”
Blank stares, faces smile.

So I nudge them a bit.

“Oh, bread.”
“What kind of bread? What’s it called? For what holiday are we making this bread for?”

And something amazing happens. A kindergartener tangents on a story about her cousin and somehow manages to come full circle to mention our soda bread has baking soda which is like yeast, but not.

A sigh of relief. The guest receives a slice of bread.

Below is the Soda Bread we’re making this week. We’ve cut it with oats and are using whole wheat flour, which makes a nice rustic and hearty loaf. It was met by approval. Instead of raisins, which (surprise) can grow in Ireland, we’re using cranberries (native to North America). I must have been thinking about the band The Cranberries when creating this recipe. You can supply any dried berry for this recipe: currants, strawberry, blueberry, bilberry, raspberry, or blackberry would all be great. I prefer buttermilk in my soda bread recipe, but the store I purchase from for class doesn’t carry it. Milk with some vinegar would work, or in this case, I substituted yogurt, which also works well.

Irish Oat Soda Bread
Makes 1 10-inch loaf
2 cups oat flour*
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg
1-1/2 cups buttermilk (or yogurt)
1 cup dried berries (soaked 1 hour to overnight) [recommended: raisins, cranberries, currants, strawberries, blueberries]
3 tablespoons honey

*To make oat flour: Blitz old-fashioned rolled oats in a food processor, or blender until it resembles coarse flour. Okay if some flakes remain.

Heat oven to 375.
Combine oat flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and seat salt in a mixing bowl. Add butter. Use fingertips to smash dry ingredients into the butter until butter is evenly distributed and mixture resembles wet sand. Add egg, buttermilk, berries and honey. Stir to combine. [This is a tough batter. After a few good stirs it’s often easier for students to knead this dough together.] Batter will be slightly sticky. Turn dough ball out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly and bake, 25-30 minutes until golden.

Enjoy plain, with a smear of butter, jam, or a drizzle of honey.

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