irish soda bread
St. Patty’s Day. How do you celebrate? Are you a green beer and shamrock necklace reveller? Or do you prefer a comforting dish of corned beef and cabbage with a pint of Guinness? Honestly, I’ve done both. At this stage of the game, I definitely fall on the side of a good meal over copious amounts of dyed pub ale (you never know what’s going to happen once you’re focusing with beer goggles.) I’ll leave that to some of my younger, single friends who will undoubtedly share the good time that I missed on Facebook.
For our St. Pat’s, I’m going with comfort food. Specifically, this Irish soda bread. I’ve tried several iterations and so far, this is my favorite, hands down. The dough comes together in about 15 minutes and when baking, it fills the house with a wonderful aroma. One whiff and Emily is grinning from ear to ear.
The original recipe for this bread makes more than the three of us can handle, so I halved it, put it in a smaller pan and shaved off some baking time. It still makes an impressive loaf and their will be plenty of leftovers for breakfast. I promise. Pinky swear.
Here’s what’s so great about this bread. It’s firm, but has a beautiful crumb. It is redolent with raisins (I used the golden variety) and caraway seeds which give it that distinctive bouquet and flavor. This bread is a little sweet. Not so much as a cake, but it definitely straddles the line. Warmed with a little butter and maybe some fruit jam — heaven. Alongside a bowl of hot soup — absolutely. With corned beef and cabbage — naturally.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup butter (half a stick) cut into cubes, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1 cup plus two tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a heavy ovenproof skillet about 8-9 inches in diameter with 2-2 1/2" inch high sides. (A cast iron skillet would work well).
- In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
- Add butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it forms coarse crumbs --when you squeeze the crumbs, they should clump.
- Stir in raisins and caraway seeds until evenly distributed.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Add to flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir to combine. Dough will be sticky.
- Transfer dough to prepared skillet and smooth over. Dip a small sharp knife into flour and make an "x" on the top of the dough - about 1-inch deep.
- Bake about 50 minutes or until tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool bread in skillet for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Can be made one day ahead. Store at room temperature, wrapped in foil.