Irish Soda Bread
Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012. I thought I would celebrate by sharing a recipe for traditional Irish Soda Bread. This is not so much a bread as it is a quick bread or large biscuit. This is in part due to the use of baking soda instead of yeast and low gluten flour which creates a crumbly texture, usually associated with biscuits and scones.
I came upon this recipe while shopping at a small boutique in the Chicago area. The shop contained trinkets and home decor along with some antiques and an large array of Irish products. One of these products in particular, was a round platter with a recipe for Irish Soda Bread glazed right on to the surface. Upon glancing over the recipe, I noticed that the instructions could use some re-working and explanation. Having never made Irish Soda Bread at home, I decided to try this recipe and share the results with you. Some steps will be different from the platter as well as a small tweak in the ingredient amounts.
Irish Soda Bread
3 1/2 C 580 g All-Purpose Flour, Unbleached (King Arthur Flour or other)
1 tsp 4 g Salt, kosher
2 tsp 8 g Baking Powder
1 tsp 6 g Baking Soda
4 Tbsp 57 g Butter, unsalted & softened
2/3 C 145 g Sugar, granulated
2 ea. 100 g Eggs
1/2 tsp 3 g Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 C 320 g Buttermilk
1 1/2 C 220 g Raisins
1 tsp 3 g Caraway seed (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350 (F). Grease and lightly flour a 9″ cake pan and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in your mixer with a paddle on medium speed (KitchenAid #4) till light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time and combine thoroughly after each egg. Add the vanilla. Scrape down your bowl and paddle if necessary.
- Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and soda in a separate bowl.
- Add 1/3 of these dry ingredients to your mixing bowl and combine thoroughly on low speed (K.A. #2). Scrape down your bowl after each of the following additions.
- Add 1/3 of the buttermilk to the mixing bowl and mix completely. Alternate step 3 and 4 until all dry and wet ingredients are combined.
- Add the raisins and caraway seeds and mix at low speed until evenly and fully distributed.
- Pour this stiff mixture into your prepared cake pan and bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour. Insert a toothpick into the center and check done-ness. If the toothpick comes out clean, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and continue cooling completely. If the toothpick did not come out clean, bake for another 10-15 minutes and check again. The continue with the previous steps.
- After the bread is cooled, slice into wedges and serve with softened butter and your favorite preserves. Goes well with hot coffee or tea.
Tips and Tricks
- You can substitute margarine for the butter in the recipe.
- Sift your dry ingredients if they seem to have absorbed moisture and appear lumpy. Don’t sift the salt, it will not fit through the mesh, just add it after sifting.
- Some recipes use milk instead of buttermilk. I advise against this seeing as buttermilk is already being substituted for fresh yogurt. The soda reacts with the lactic acids in the yogurt creating bubbles. This effect can be replicated using buttermilk, but may not be as strong if using typical milk.
- Caraway seeds are optional, but try to add them if possible. The flavor is very European and pleasant. It is not as overwhelming as you might think.
- Don’t have a cake pan? Try using a different pan to bake in. Just make sure that the mixture does not rise more than 3/4 the way in your preferred pan.
- You can slightly wet your hands and press down on your loaf to make it flat and even before baking. Your hands should not be dripping, but wet enough to keep from sticking. You may need to re-wet them a few times. This is not a necessary step, just me being a perfectionist.
- If you would like a decorative touch to your loaf, add some flour over the loaf in an X shape before baking. Use a bench scrapper or knife dipped in some more flour and press down of the X about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way through the mixture. Once baked, you should get a loaf with a nice X shaped break in the center.
- Serve this bread at breakfast with some Honey Butter from my previous post or other spread.
Let me know if you have ever made Irish Soda Bread. Was the recipe similar or different? Did you make it with a different flour or without caraway? Did you like the taste?