Monday, March 10, 2014

My New Love Affair: Irish Soda Bread

This Irish girl would be remiss not to post something in honor of St.Patrick's Day. This year we are going all out by enjoying this bread, corn beef and cabbage, bread pudding with a whiskey caramel sauce, and of course, some stout. I love all of these food things. They run through my veins. Although, I pretty much look for any excuse to celebrate anything food related. National Nutella Day? Let's put Nutella on or in everything we can. National Doughnut Day? Doughnuts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This Friday is pie day, since it's 3/14 or 3.14 so there will be pie. Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, and Tuesday are all celebrated with food where I come from. It's a beautiful thing.

This bread is also a very beautiful thing. How can something so simple be so wonderful? Twenty minutes to mix together and 40 minutes to bake and you will find yourself consuming half a loaf in less than 30 minutes or at least that's what I did. I'm serious about this bread. The ingredients are not all that glamorous, just some flour, baking soda, sugar, buttermilk, butter, and raisins but in concert they make for a rustic, slightly sweet, and satisfying loaf. This bread will be made to celebrate more often.

Irish Soda Bread
Adapted slightly from Cook's Illustrated, serve 8 to 10

1 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 1/2 whole wheat flour
3 tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 1/2 tsps cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup raisins

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk both flours, brown sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl. Add melted butter and use fingers to rub it into the flour mixture until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Scatter raisins over the top. Mix buttermilk and raisins into the flour with a fork until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains. If dry flour remains, add buttermilk a tablespoon at a time, until all the flour is just moist.

Place dough on a floured surface and pat into a 6 inch round. Dough will look rustic and uneven.

Place dough into a greased cast-iron skillet or if you don't own a cast-iron skillet, a cookie sheet. Cut a deep cross in the dough, about 5" across and 3/4" deep. Bake until browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.

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