Irish Soda Bread

3 Feb

Don’t have time to make regular bread but still want something beautiful, delicious, and homemade? This is the perfect recipe! It’s done in less than an hour and looks and tastes fabulous. To me it kind of tasted like a biscuit and was a great complement to a hot bowl of soup! I’m a little ashamed (and a little proud) to say I had all of these ingredients on hand. Weird. I know.

irish soda bread

MAKES 1 LOAF

“If you do not have a cast-iron skillet, the bread can be baked on a baking sheet, although the crust won’t be quite as crunchy. Soda bread is best eaten on the day it is baked but does keep well covered and stored at room temperature for a couple of days, after which time it will become dry.”

  • 3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1½ teaspoons table salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for brushing the loaf (optional)
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the softened butter and rub it into the flour using your fingers until it is completely incorporated. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add 1½ cups of the buttermilk. Work the buttermilk into the flour mixture using a fork until the dough comes together in large clumps and there is no dry flour in the bottom of the bowl, add up to ¼ cup more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the loose flour is just moistened. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pat together to form a 6-inch round. The dough will be scrappy and uneven.

Place the dough in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Score a deep cross, about 5 inches long and ¾ inch deep, on the top of the loaf and place in the oven. Bake until nicely browned and knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the melted butter (if using). Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

This variation is known as brown bread in Ireland. The dough will be sticky and you may need to add a small amount of flour as you mix it.

Follow the recipe for Irish Soda Bread, reducing the unbleached all-purpose flour to 1½ cups (7½ ounces) and the cake flour to ½ cup (2 ounces) and increasing the sugar to 3 tablespoons. Add 1½ cups (8¼ ounces) whole wheat flour and ½ cup toasted wheat germ with the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in step 1.

From: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen  TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013

 

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