NOT-SO-TRADITIONAL IRISH SODA BREAD
I love indulging in a warm, baked-from-scratch loaf of bread. But let's be honest: making it at home can be a long (see: tedious) task what with the letting the yeast rise, punching down, rising again...but that's why the quick bread was invented! Quick breads are basically any breads that don't use yeast to rise - like banana bread. With St. Patty’s Day just around the corner, I thought a take on the traditional Irish soda bread would be fun.
Irish soda bread is usually made with a few simple ingredients: flour (wheat or white), baking soda, buttermilk and salt. Once you have those basics, you can expand with any seeds, citrus, dried fruits you want to create a not-so-traditional soda bread. This recipe is a slightly modified version of one from a great friend/chef, Tamsin Kelly, who makes this with her family for St. Patrick's Day. I love the combination of caraway seeds, orange zest, and dried currants in this recipe, but you can substitute however you like (raisins, fennel seeds, etc…)! Enjoy!
Yields (1) 9-inch cake tin
4 cups plus 3 - 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ stick unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 ½ cups buttermilk*
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup dried currants
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
To the bowl of food processor, add the 4 cups plus 3 tablespoons of flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Pulse until mixed. Sprinkle the cold, cubed butter on top and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Whisk the buttermilk with the egg and slowly add to the flour mixture, pulsing until the dough forms. Pulse in the currants, caraway seeds and orange zest. If the dough is too sticky, add another tablespoon of flour. Do not overmix or it will toughen up! You just want the flour blended, and you are ready to go.
I like to cook mine in a greased cast iron skillet or you can use a greased, 9-inch round cake tin. Score an “X” in the dough (about 1/2” thick) and place in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the dough halfway through cooking. When done, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Make sure to enjoy with a nice, rich, salty Irish butter!!
*I hardly ever buy buttermilk for a recipe since I always have milk, vinegar and lemon juice laying around. For every cup of milk, use 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. Just mix together and let sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. It will thicken slightly and look a bit curdled and then it's ready to go!