Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

♚ Ω ♧ Happy St. Patrick's Day! ♧ Ω 

As my Facebook new feed floods with random facts about today and pictures of green beer and less than appetizing green food, I am focused on a traditional Irish recipe. A simple, Irish Soda Bread, done in the more traditional style than the Americanized version that floods grocery stores and bakeries at this time of year.

The traditional version of this delicious bread has a moist, dense crumb and a thick, crunchy crust. I added in some raisins to make it comparable to an Americanized version of this bread that is sold at The Andersons, a wonderful all-purpose store located close to my parents' in Ohio. (They also have a cran-orange version that is delicious.)

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Modified from America's Tests Kitchen

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400. Adjust the rack to the center position.

Place dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers, rub it into the flour until incorporated. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, work the buttermilk into the flour, starting in the center and making outward strokes. Mix until the dough just comes together into large clumps. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the loose flour is just moistened.

Form the dough into a ball, about 6 inches in diameter. Place into a cast iron skillet. With a sharp knife, score a deep cross into the top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until nicely browned. (tester comes out clean when inserted into the center). Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

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