I know a lot of people took up baking to ease their way through the pandemic, but I came to the bread-baking party late—as is my habit. And it wasn’t motivated by the baking bread at all. It arose from my sugar-free January, the contemplation of it in November through the reality of it January first.
Sugar-free means…well…no sugar. So many things have sugar, and even if the sugar in bread can be minimal, minimal is the first slide on that slippery slope. Mark Bittman and Bittman Bread stopped that downward trajectory in its tracks. My sister-in-law gave me my sourdough starter. The rest is history.
January found me thumbing through Bitman’s sugar-free, no-knead (folding is everything!) bread bible at least once a week to keep me experimenting with the staff of life. And it was good. January became February, and even though sweets entered my life once again, perhaps a bit more reservedly, each Friday night found me preparing starter for my Saturday baking. (I say a bit sheepishly that my brother watched in amazement as I measured and stirred after much-too-much red wine with him on a Friday in February, unwilling to forgo my Bittman ritual.)
Yesterday, though, I departed from the path. It will be St. Patrick’s Day this Thursday, but I will not be at home baking. I will be south of the border—olé. So I made no-yeast bread of another kind, Irish soda bread, the Americanized version:
How sweet it is!