Monday, March 14, 2016

Irish Soda Bread

I'm doing a full St. Patrick's Day this year.  More on that in upcoming posts.  I'm not sure I've ever had soda bread.  If I have, I don't think I liked it, but it has been a long time and my tastes have changed.

Caraway and raisins in the same loaf may be why this is an acquired taste.  I don't know how that makes this Irish, but the soda part is because it is a quick bread and not a yeast-raised dough.  It looks like a yeast bread and isn't the high-fat, sweet-laden dough that usually defines a quick bread, hence the confusion (at least my own).  As it was baking, I realized from the aroma that these are just really big scones.

This recipe is from a children's cookbook with a few tweaks, and the method is from the Bible.  The temperature is a compromise between the two.  Both original temperatures made sense in their original recipes, but my changes prompted a slight change in oven temp and baking time.

4 C flour, divided
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 Tb sugar
3 Tb margarine
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 C raisins
1 egg, beaten
2 C buttermilk
1 Tb sanding or crystallized sugar (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375º.  Sift together 3-1/2 C flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Cut in margarine until it disappears into flakes.  Stir in caraway and raisins.

2.  Reserve 1 Tb each of beaten egg and buttermilk to make an egg wash.  Pour remainder into flour and stir until thoroughly moistened.

3.  Using remaining flour, turn dough onto a board and shape into two round balls.  Place on a greased or lined sheet pan.  Brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  With a floured knife, cut a 1/4" deep cross in loaves.

4.  Bake for 1 hour.  If loaves don't sound hollow, continue in 5 minute increments.  Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely, at least 2 hours.

5.  Either serve within a couple of days or wrap in plastic and foil and freeze.

Makes 2 8" loaves

Difficulty rating  π

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