Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Soda Bread


In my broad and complicated ethnicity, there is not a single iota of Irishness. I'm a first-gen American, and our family gatherings when I was growing up looked a lot like potluck day at the UN. We hail from Germany, Argentina, Italy, Ukraine, Colombia, and many points in between. But Ireland? Not so much.

In spite of that, I love St. Patrick's Day. Actually, I love the foods of celebratory days in general, but there's something about the St. Patty's Day spread that is particularly endearing to me. All those easy-to-prepare comfort foods...and beer! What's not to love about that?

My contribution to our collective St. Patty's Day dinner get-togethers has always been Irish Soda Bread. I generally make two loaves--one with raisins, one without--and never come home with leftovers. 

While might be used to serving this traditional quick bread alongside your St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage. Leavened with baking powder and baking soda, this soda bread is really so good and easy, there’s no good reason to limit it to one meal a year! Make it a few times and it just might become a staple in your home. It’s not much different in makeup from, say, a giant scone, which makes it perfect for brunch, breakfast, snacks, soup-side, or teatime. Also, it freezes beautifully because it is so moist ~ make 2 and freeze one, if you can keep everyone away from it.

Irish Soda Bread

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine white flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
  3. Cut in butter until mixture has the texture of coarse cornmeal. In a separate small bowl, use a fork to beat together 1 egg and yogurt. If using raisins, stir them into the yogurt mixture.
  4. Pour yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and combine just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for 8 to 10 turns, just until dough forms a cohesive ball. Place dough on the baking sheet and form into a nicely rounded loaf, approximately 6 inches in diameter. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a 4-inch cross into the top of the dough. Brush loaf with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and the interior of the cross cut appears dry. When thumped lightly on the bottom, the bread should sound hollow.
  5. Let cool at least 15 minutes to avoid crumbling when cut. Serve warm with butter.

Cranberry Brown Sugar Soda Bread variation: Replace raisins with dried, sweetened cranberries. Place dough on lightly floured surfaced, sprinkle with additional 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Knead 4 turns; sprinkle with 1 to 2 more tablespoons brown sugar. Knead final 4 turns. {Don’t worry about mixing the brown sugar into the dough ~ it’ll form a lovely melting ribbon of sugar throughout your loaf.} After brushing with egg wash, sprinkle top of loaf with turbinado sugar. Bake as indicated.


Makes 1 loaf (about 12 slices)


Click here for printable version.

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