I’ve mentioned my good friend Baker Mom from time to time. She’s a really good baker. I’ve also written about her soda bread a couple of years ago. Well, now I have the recipe! Yay! Except now I feel like I need to make my own instead of relying on her. But, that’s a problem I’ll worry about next year since she’s kindly given me one again this year. I can’t wait to eat it tomorrow for breakfast. Food makes me happy. Check that, good food makes me happy and satisfies my soul.
Anyway, Baker Mom is sharing the recipe with you all as well. Yes, all 4 of you! Take it away Baker Mom! And a huge thank you for the write up, the lovely photos and the soda bread!!!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!
Growing up, St. Patrick’s Day was a big deal in our house. The wearing of the green, corned beef & cabbage, the NYC parade on TV. And, of course, Irish Soda Bread. I think my sisters and I were in our early teens when we started helping my dad out by making the bread. And now, many, many years later, I’m sure between us we’ve made hundreds. There are many different types of soda bread that I’ve come across – some more cake-like, some on the dry side with a lovely crumb. But please – do not get me started on those supermarket soda breads with the white icing. Yuck!!
This soda bread is on the dry side, like a scone. Perfect with a big slab of butter and a cup of tea or coffee. I like lots of raisins so I try to squeeze in as many as possible, but you can adjust to your preference. I also don’t much care for caraway seeds in my soda bread, but many do. Feel free to add in 1 or 2 tablespoons when you add the raisins.
This time of year, there are lots of articles and discussions regarding the history of Irish Soda bread, whether or not it is really considered “Irish” and what the true recipe should contain. Bottom line to me – this is the bread my family has always had and this is the way we’ve always made it, so its part of our family tradition. It just wouldn’t be the same St. Patrick’s Day with out it!!
This recipe is quite easy, so don’t be afraid to give it a go. This recipe makes 2 loaves – perfect for having one for your family and one to share with the blogger who is publishing your recipe!
The ingredients are pretty basic, so you probably have many or most of them in your cupboards already. Flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, raisins, butter (I only use unsalted, but if you only have salted, just add a little less salt), 1 egg and buttermilk, both at room temperature. (I only use King Arthur unbleached flour – I find it incredibly consistent and worth the extra pennies.)
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl. It’s easiest to cut the butter up into small cubes, then add it to the dry ingredients, cutting it into the flour using a pastry cutter or your hands. You want to really incorporate the butter into the flour until you don’t feel any chunks of butter. I find it easiest to do this with my hands.
Then in another bowl, beat the egg and add it to the buttermilk. Now here comes the messy part! Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and get your hands in there to incorporate. You’ll end up with slightly dry, slightly shaggy looking dough.
Pour in the raisins (I’m using the full 2 cups here) and mix into the dough by folding the dough onto itself until most of the raisins are incorporated.
Note that your dough still looks a little shaggy and not very smooth. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Don’t use too much flour – you only want enough to keep the dough from sticking. I find it easiest to spread a thin layer on my board, and then have some extra in a pile up near the corner. If the dough starts sticking, I slide a small bit from the pile to where it was sticking. That way I don’t add too much more flour to my dough.
You want to knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. You just need to keep folding it over onto itself and pressing it down. Try folding it from the top down and then from the side, and repeat a few times. Raisins will pop out as you go – just stick them back in. After a few minutes, you’ll see your dough has developed a lovely smooth look, almost a little satiny looking.
Cut the dough in half and shape each half into a circle.
Using a small bit of softened butter, lightly coat the surface of the two circles with butter. This helps give a nice coloring to the finished bread. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each loaf. Technically, this cut allows the bread to expand as its baking while retaining its basic shape, but we were always told that it helped let the ‘spirits’ escape while it was baking. I like that version much better!
Place each loaf in a pie pan or round cake pan that has been lightly greased.
Bake at 375°F for 40-50 minutes. The bread should be lightly golden and sound hollow when you thump on the bottom. The bottom should also have a nice dark golden color which may be an easier way to tell it’s done than listening for a hollow sound.
Let the bread cool a bit before slicing. Your kitchen should smell delicious by now, so it will be tough! But it will slice better when it’s a little cool.
And this is what I’ll be having for breakfast all week – black tea and some warmed soda bread with a bit of butter. Yum!
Irish Soda Bread
Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 40 – 50 mins
Makes: 2 loaves
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 egg, room temperature
1 ¾ cups buttermilk, room temperature
1-2 cups raisins
2 lightly greased cake or pie pans
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Add butter and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or with fingers.
In another bowl, beat egg. Mix in buttermilk.
Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Stir until well blended. Add raisins and mix. Knead gently on a lightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes until smooth.
Divide dough into two pieces. Shape into round loaves and lightly cover with softened butter. Place in pans and press down a bit. Cut cross ~½ inch deep on top of each loaf.
Bake at 375°F for 40-50 minutes. Bread is done when the top is lightly golden, the bottom is a darker golden color, and the bottom sounds hollow when lightly thumped.