Every year I make Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's day. Every year we devour it within a couple of days. I really wish I would think to make it more than just once a year because I love this bread. There is just something about the crusty exterior and the sweetness from the raisins. It is really easy to make as far as breads go because there is no yeast! You don't have to wait for it to rise or worry about it caving in on itself. Usually I used margarine instead of butter but this year I decided to go all out and make it with butter. I found this recipe over at simply recipes and so far it it the best one that I have come across. Just so you know, if your bread is becoming too dark, tent some aluminum foil over it while it finishes baking.
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 3/4 cups skim buttermilk or skim milk
- Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
- Using a pastry cutter or two knives (can also use your fingers), work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in raisins.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that it comes together. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.
- Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.
- Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.
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