March 23, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

the gift that keeps on giving

The internet has been chalk full of provocative pictures of Irish Soda bread lately…and boy have I been seduced. Is this the only time of year people make it? I saw Martha make some on her show last week and decided that I would put that recipe in my food queue. You should see how much head space is taken up in my noggin for food…it’s ridiculous.

I found a recipe in Martha’s Baking book and decided on a whim last night to make some. After Cooper when down for the night, I was hit by the most wonderful smell in my kitchen. What a glorious thing…to have fresh baked bread on your counter. That scent is intoxicating.

mixing the stickyness

egging the top

what a gorgeous LOAF

i couldn't resist. i cut into it like 3 minutes after i took it out.

I’ve never really tasted traditional Irish soda bread, so I am not sure how this one fairs in comparison. The raisins were juicy and extremely plump & moist. We smothered a piece in butter and topped it with honey the second it came out of the oven. It tasted like a crispy scone.

Such good crunch…the next day I didn’t even have to reheat it because it was still soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Casey said he normally doesn’t like Irish Soda bread, but I think the addition of sugar in the dough probably convinced him otherwise.

I decided against using caraway seeds in this loaf as it called for them in the recipe. I couldn’t find any at the store 🙁 But maybe next time I’ll try to make it with them.

Irish Soda Bread

(recipe Martha Stewart Baking Book)

-4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-2 tablespoons caraway seeds
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
-2 cups golden or dark raisins
-1 1/2 scant cups buttermilk
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 large egg yolk
-1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. Heat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and caraway seeds until well combined.

2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives in scissor fashion, cut in butter until the mixture feels like coarse meal. Stir in raisins until evenly distributed.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and baking soda until well combined. Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour-and-butter mixture all at once, and stir with a fork until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to hold together. It should resemble a rough biscuit dough. Using your hands, press the dough into a round, dome-shaped loaf about 8 inches in diameter. Lift the loaf from the bowl, and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

4. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream together. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the loaf. With a sharp knife or razor, incise a cross, about 1/2 inch deep, into the top of the loaf. Transfer to the oven. Bake, rotating halfway through, until it is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 70 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer bread from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.

with a bread like this…it’s a shame people only make it on St. Patrick’s Day.

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