Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

Irish week is continuing at Susi's Kochen und Backen. So far I've posted recipes for Glazed Corned Beef, Irish Colcannon Potatoes and Fried Cabbage. Today will be all about the Irish Soda Bread.
I had baked soda breads in previous years and even resulted to buying a few at the grocery store. Every time it received very mixed results from my family. My husband and I didn't mind (but they didn't taste fabulous) and the kids just plain out rejected every single one of them.

Most of the breads I had made before called for raisins. I thought they were almost too sweet. I also tried recipes using currants. I really enjoyed those loafs but again, my kids declined to eat them.

As I was looking for the "perfect" recipe I found out that Soda bread gets its name from being a quick bread in which baking soda is used for leavening rather than the more common yeast. Traditional ingredients include flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Other ingredients that can be found int various recipes are raisins, currants, eggs, or even nuts.
Soda bread is to this day a staple in the Irish cuisine and is served often with meals.

I ended up finding the perfect recipe. It might not be considered traditional but that wasn't what I was going for. I was looking for taste and Ina Garten's version is by far the best soda bread we've ever eaten. I ended up replacing the currants with craisins since I couldn't find currants but that turned out to be a great decision. I will be baking this recipe more frequently now and the best part is my kids love the bread and told me to make it again and again!

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for Craisins
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried Craisins (dried cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lin a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, light beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the Craisins with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. The dough will be VERY wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound when done.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftover bread can be stored for up to 3 days well wrapped. If the bread gets a little dry you can always toast it the next day for a great breakfast treat.

Adapted from: Ina Garten

Coming up tomorrow: The conclusion of Irish week, Irish Cream Cupcakes with Baileys Frosting

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