Irish Soda Bread Muffins – Whole Wheat Style

I love to bake, though I rarely have the time to do it because I’m usually busy with work around the house and chasing after or carting around kids. If I am in the kitchen, I am either making family meals or lunches and snacks for kids to take to school. The preparation and cleanup from that leaves me with little energy (or interest) in making anything else. I often manage to whip something up for the weekend but it is usually from a box rather than from scratch. But, there are certain times when it is worth extra effort.

The other down side about baking is that the result is usually highly caloric. A little secret about me – I am a Weight Watcher. I am not going to sell the program, but I will say that it is not just a way of eating, it is a way of thinking and living. One of the keys to my weight loss (60 pounds) was finding healthier, better, ways to make my favorite foods. I admit that there are times when there is no substitute for the full-fat versions of food…and it becomes a matter of portion control. But I have found some fantastic, healthier, recipes that yield a product that is indistinguishable from the regular version.

When St. Patrick’s Day gets closer, I will share a great recipe for Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Baileys Cream Cheese frosting. But now I am making Irish Soda Bread. Typically I buy Irish Soda Bread in the store and will continue to buy it throughout the month to enjoy with my tea. Then I happened upon this recipe and, of course, those cooking bloggers make their recipes look so tempting to try…so here we are.

Since I had never used this recipe before, I made very few modifications. First, preheat the oven to 375 and spray a muffin tin with baking spray (I used non-stick parchment liners).

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of unbleached white whole wheat flour (I used the recommended King Arthur brand), 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp kosher salt.

Next, mix 3 ½ Tbsp of chilled butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives. The recipe suggests that the mixture should “resemble coarse crumbs”. I really didn’t feel like mine looked like coarse crumbs so I just made sure that the butter was blended in well.

In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup of buttermilk, 3 Tbsp of agave nectar (or honey) and 1 large egg. Add this to the dry mixture and stir. Add in 2/3 cup of dried currants (the recipe calls for raisins).

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minute – insert a toothpick into the middle to test for doneness.

I really enjoyed these. Can’t say that they are better or worse than the store-bought (calorie value unknown) version…these don’t taste “healthier” (which is a compliment) and they look and smell amazing. I will definitely make at least one more batch this month and may try adding extra agave as I feel these were missing a little sweetness.   I will update this post when I try that.

By looking at all the drink recipes, it may seem that I am a heavy drinker. Truth is that alcohol drinking is reserved for the weekends – during the week it is British tea, taken with sweetener and milk. And, to help me get through these final days of winter, I will spread a little clotted cream on top of one of these warm muffins to enjoy with my tea.  I hope you enjoy these too!

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