Friday, March 11, 2011

How About Some Irish Soda Bread?

With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, I thought I'd share a recipe in honor of the day.

Once I decided to make this in honor of St. Patty's Day, I got to wondering just how this bread came to be.  From what I understand, in the early to mid 1800s, making bread with yeast was not common in Ireland.  Because time and other resources were limited, using baking soda as a leavening agent was popular and therefore,  soda bread was a staple in many households. 

The recipe I am sharing together isn't as traditional as the original soda bread recipe they used back then, but it is so very good.  Trust me.

If you've never had Irish soda bread and you're wondering what it tastes like, the closest thing I can thing I can think of is a scone.  Well, at least this version is.  Its very similar and while scones aren't really that hard to make, this Irish soda bread is way easier.  So if you just imagine you are making a giant scone, you won't be that far off.

The recipe I like is from Martha Stewart.  It is called Sunday Best Irish Soda Bread.

When I made this, I had a little helper who decided he didn't need a nap that day and wanted so badly to help me.  Of course, I said yes. 

So here is what you'll need:

Notice the almost empty container of milk.  If you read my post here (towards the bottom), you'll know where it went.

Mix the dry ingredients together (except baking soda):

Cut in the butter:

Stir in the raisins:

Wait for a little crumb to fall:

Whisk buttermilk, egg and baking soda together and then add to dry ingredients:

Stir with a fork until fixture holds together.  Press into a round, dome shaped loaf, about 8" in diameter:

Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet (I was out and used Pam Spray without any sticking at all) and brush with egg and cream mixture.  Make an "x" in the loaf about 1/2" deep:

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 70 minutes and you will have this:

I kid you not, this was just my husband's serving:

Why can men eat like this and not gain weight?   How is that fair?


Sunday Best Irish Soda Bread
From The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

ingredients ~

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons whole caraway seeds (I omitted this)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (my addition)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 cups golden or dark raisins (I plumped mine in heated fresh orange juice, then drained and pat dry)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large whole egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream  (I just used 75% buttermilk and 25% skim since I didn't have any heavy cream)

directions ~
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, caraway seeds (if using)  and ground cinnamon (if using) until well combined.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the raisins until evenly distributed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and baking soda until well combined. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour-and-butter mixture all at once, and stir with a fork until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to hold together. Using your hands, press the dough into a round, dome-shaped loaf about 8 inches in diameter. Transfer it to the baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the loaf. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, make and x-shaped slash about 1/2 inch deep into the top of the loaf. Bake, rotating halfway through, until it is a deep golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

P.S.  Here is my funny little outtake from baking with my son.  He is an expert egg cracker and so proud that he can do it without breaking the yolk.  So, I was taking his picture:

And he wanted to take a picture himself of the unbroken yolk.  He went to take it and this is the unedited photo he took:

Can you say "easily distracted"? Looks like something better caught his eye!  He is the perfect combo of  his father and me, at least! ;)

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  1. I love soda bread. Looks so good!

  2. looks great. I will have to try it. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Hi Jodi! Thanks for joining my newbie party. What a great looking recipe. You have the cutest helper around here! Have fun!

  4. Hi Jodi, Thanks for the background information on soda bread! It looks wonderful! I agree that it's not fair men can eat goodies like and not gain weight! I'm visiting from Debbie's newbie party.

  5. oh this brought back so many memories of my childhood! i just asked my husband if he ever had irish soda bread and his reply, "never heard of it but looks delicious!" and yes, he was looking at your pictures. this is definitely in my to-do list for this week, thank you for a wonderful tutorial!!

  6. Yummy, I have never made soda bread before, looks like I need to. Kids are home (spring break), we could do it together!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Isn't baking more fun with a great little helper?? I invite you to link up any & all of your delightful creations to The Homespun Bake Shop @ The Tattered Tag. It's a great new place for delicious inspiration. Happy to be a new follower. :)

    Drop by The Tattered Tag