Another holiday, another festive carb. St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and what better way to celebrate than to bake up a big ol’ loaf of Irish soda bread?
If you’re new to quick breads, this is a good place to start and yields some fairly impressive results (just LOOK at that thing!) Soda bread is a cinch to make – it’s basically a glorified biscuit.
According to the ever-so-accurate Wikipedia the traditional cross placed on the bread was thought to ward off the devil or fairies. Now if that’s not a reason to make this bread, I don’t know what it.
Another bit of Emerald Isle food trivia – did you know that ‘champ’ is an Irish term for mashed potatoes with scallions? Who knew? Thank you to Kitty Hoynes in Syracuse for the clarification.
Irish Soda Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the counter
1 cup cake flour
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar OR lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup raisins or currants
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with vegetable oil spray.
Whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar or lemon juice and salt together. Work 2 T. of the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork until the texture resembles course crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk and raisins with a fork until the dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter. Knead just until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, about 30 seconds (do NOT knead until smooth).
Pat the dough into a 6-inch round about 2 inches thick. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Cut an X into the top of the loaf using a serrated knife. Bake until the oaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes.
REmove the loaf from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Melt the remaining 1 T. butter and brush over the top. Sprinkle with a little sugar, if desired. Let the loaf cool for 1 hour.
-Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen