Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spotted Dog

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If my mail is any indication, many of you are curious as to how the English version of Irish soda bread came to be called Spotted Dog. Surprisingly, no one seems to know for sure. My research came up with a lot of guesses, some educated, others not. We know for certain that a staple of old English kitchens was a steamed pudding that, when made with raisins, was called a Spotted Dick. While many are offended by the name, linguists seem to agree that it really was derived from the word pudding. According to Dex at The Straight Dope, over the course of time, pudding became puddink, puddink became puddick and puddick , finally shortened, became dick. Fortunately, there was another version of the pudding whose name could offend no one. It was made with plums and suet and it was called a Spotted Dog. Why? From this point forward all the information you receive will be the product of my, as yet, undocumented imagination.

The pudding, and later the bread of the same name, bear spots like those found on a Dalmatian. Looking at these photos I have no trouble understanding why the bread, too, was called Spotted Dog. I personally think Dalmation Bread would have been a better, more expressive name, but then no one ever listens to me and, as a result, we still have these awkward language situations that must be dealt with. More's the pity :-). Today's recipe is for an embellished Irish soda bread. It contains raisins and caraway seeds, but it is less rich than many of the versions that are popular today. I like to view it as a historical footnote that falls somewhere between yesterday's wholemeal bread and the lovely cake-like loaf that Ina Garten makes here. Here's the recipe for those of you who are curious.

Spotted Dog...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite


4 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds

1 cup golden raisins

1-3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1) Place rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Butter and Flour a large baking sheet. Set aside.

2) Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in sugar, caraway seeds and raisins. Add buttermilk and stir until dough is moistened, but still lumpy.

3) Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with floured hands until dough is less sticky but still soft, about 8 times. Divide dough into two pieces and form each piece into a ball. Pat each ball into a domed 6-inch round on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 4-inches apart. Cut a large 1/2-inch deep x in top of each loaf with a sharp knife or razor blade. Brush both loaves with melted butter.

4) Bake until golden brown and bottom of loaves sound hollow when tapped, about 35 to 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours before slicing. Yield: 2 6-inch loaves.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Chocolate Soda Bread - Real Epicurean

Browned Butter Soda Bread - Vanilla Sugar

Authentic Irish Soda Bread - Confessions of a Kitchen Witch

Oat Soda Bread - 101 Cookbooks

Irish Soda Bread - The English Kitchen

Brown Bread - David Lebovitz

Soda Bread - Farmersgirl Kitchen

Irish Soda Bread Scones - Brown Eyed Baker

Irish Soda Bread Scones - Smitten Kitchen

Caraway Soda Bread - Simply Recipes

Oats and Honey Irish Soda Bread with Raisins - Baking Bites

This post is being linked to:

Smiling Sally - Blue Monday

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