Sunday, March 15, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up on Tuesday, I decided to try making Irish Soda Bread. Epicurious has an article about how the Irish Soda Bread we make here is not what they eat in Ireland. I figured as much. I worked with a guy from Ireland who looked amused when I asked him if he ate corned beef and cabbage in Ireland. He patiently explained they eat a boiled bacon dinner, but corned beef was a purely American invention. Authentic or not, I decided to forge ahead with my soda bread. I did some research, and came up with a couple of recipes, and because I care about you, my readers, I didn’t test just one recipe of soda bread, but two.

The first recipe I tried was sent to my by a coworker. This soda bread recipe resembles a quick bread or muffin recipe, and it was too wet to knead it or shape it, so I poured the mixture into two loaf pans to bake. The bread came out moist and tasty.

Irish Soda Bread
5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ pound butter (1 stick)
2 ½ cups mixed light and dark raisins
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 ½ cups buttermilk
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350° F, and generously butter 2 (9 X 5 inch) loaf pans. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut the butter into the flour mixture and mix until it becomes grainy. Add the raisins and caraway seeds. Mix the egg and buttermilk together, add it to the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. Don’t over mix. Pour into the two prepared loaf pans, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick come out clean. Cool in the pan for 3-4 minutes and then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool. also has a nice video on how to make Irish Soda Bread. The recipe they include with the video is not the same recipe Chef Eric Kastel demonstrates, so I adapted the recipe to be more in line with his recipe. This bread was equally as tasty, but it was drier with a crisper crust than the first batch of soda bread.

Irish Soda Bread
I adapted this recipe from an Epicurious recipe.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pound unsalted butter
1 cup of light and dark raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400° F and grease a baking sheet and sprinkling it with cornmeal. Sift the flour, baking soda, sugar and the salt together into a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it becomes grainy. Add the raisins, the caraway seeds and the milk. Mix until just combined. Once the dough comes together, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough into a ball, and cut the dough into two equal pieces. Shape the dough into a ball, cut an X into the top of the ball, and sprinkle with a small amount of flour. Bake the soda bread until lightly browned and hollow sounding when you tap it on the bottom about 20-25 minutes. Wrap the bread in a tea towel directly out of the oven. Cool the soda bread in a tea towel on a wire rack before serving.

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