Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Like you need another Irish soda bread recipe on St. Patrick's day, but I had buttermilk that needed using up...  This is a good solid recipe though - the first soda bread I ever made, way back, long ago in college.  I brought it in to a notoriously persnickety professor to share with the class.  No, I wasn't trying to butter her up, she was usually only hard on the guys.  Although she did make noises about my currying favor with baked goods.  (I did end up with an A in the class...)  ☺  The house smells delicious right now!  Soda bread is basically a big scone or glorified biscuit.  It comes together in minutes, you can probably get the dough made before the oven finishes preheating, and it bakes up fairly quickly too.  So it's a good breakfast option.  Or when you need a bread accompaniment for a meal and don't have time for rolls or regular bread.  It's simply good.  (Like any good scone or biscuit, don't over handle the dough or it will be tough instead of tender.)

Irish Soda Bread
Serves 6-8

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp butter
1 large egg
¾ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup currents
2 tbsp heavy cream or another egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Combine the egg and buttermilk and beat together; stir into flour until just moistened.  Fold in the currents.  Knead on a lightly floured board for a minute, just enough to bring the dough together in a rough ball.  Don't overwork it.  Shape into a round loaf and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cut the traditional cross in the top, about ¼" deep.  Brush the loaf with either heavy cream or a beaten egg.  (This one was brushed with cream, the egg wash will give a more golden, shiny finish to the loaf.)  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a rack or serve straightaway with butter.

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