I promised you more St. Patrick’s Day favorites this week, and here I am keeping good on my word. The first time I made (or tried to make is probably more appropriate) Irish Soda Bread, it was an utter disaster. This was years ago, when I was just getting my footing in the kitchen. I remember it being very disheartening – everything I read said it was such an easy quick bread! I can’t remember what recipe I used – but it came out of the oven looking completely stunning. Then, when I cut into it, it just completely crumbled to a heap or soda bread ashes.
It kind of reminded me of when Clark goes to cut Catherine’s turkey in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. That whole episode scared me away from breads for a few years – but I’m happy to report that I’m back in the saddle, lived to tell the tale, with an awesome (and different!) soda bread recipe for you guys!
I’ve been using Ina’s recipe for the past couple of years, and it always turns out fabulous. I didn’t have currants, so I substituted with raisins. Ina also doesn’t add caraway seeds – which to me, is essential in an Irish soda bread. So I brought those to the party as well. The flavors of the caraway and the orange zest, and then the chewy raisins – it’s just so wonderful. The loaf is quite large, and lasts us a couple of meals. I like to slice it thin, toast it, then add a bit of butter before enjoying. Sure to please any Leprechaun you’ll find in your neck of the woods!
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for raisins
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 cup raisins or dried currants
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone mat.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, orange zest, and caraway seeds together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten