Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Are you wearing green? In honor of the occasion, I want to share my trusty Irish Soda Bread recipe with you. Though to be fair, it's not really my recipe at all. The sweet mother of my friend James was kind enough to share it with me years ago. They're a good Boston-Irish family, so unsurprisingly her version has never let me down. I make it at least once a year, and this year, I actually get to make it with my own mom since she's visiting! What day isn't made better by a warm loaf of bread fresh out of the oven (with the exception of those super hot summer days where you can't bear to turn on your oven)?
2 cups all-purpose white flour
(or 1 1/2 cup white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tb sugar
6 Tb unsalted butter
heaping 1/2 cup raisins
1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven 375 F. Have all ingredients around room temperature.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (you can also work the butter into the flour with your fingertips)

Stir in the raisins, breaking them up so there aren't any clumps.

Gradually add the buttermilk to the bowl, mixing at first with a wooden spoon.  As the dough begins to form, I switch to using my hands, carefully gathering the dough into a ball, adding buttermilk little by little until it just comes together.

Gently pat the dough into a slightly flattened disc, and place on greased cast iron skillet or baking sheet. Brush lightly with buttermilk, and cut a cross into the top of the bread (this is said to bless the bread and to help it crack when baking)

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until nicely browned.

Cool on wire rack for at least 20-30 min (I wrap mine once in a clean cotton dish towel to keep the crust somewhat soft; otherwise it can get pretty hard).

Serve at room temperature or warm and spread with a little butter. And enjoy!

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