Last week we shared our exceptionally superb Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe, and in my effort here to get us all up to speed and ready for St. Paddy's Day, as promised I've got some deliciously scrumptious Irish soda bread for you. And oh my ever lovin' goodness, this is some seriously excellent soda bread.
There are like a bazillion recipes for soda bread circulating through the interwebs, but this is my favorite. It's almost sort of completely traditional but not quite. It's actually not as far away from traditional as most of the recipes you'll find out there. And by traditional I mean, flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. That's it.
The Irish have very strong opinions about this sort of thing and some purists would tell you that it's the only way to make it. Not being a total purist, I opted for just a couple more ingredients... a little baking powder, some raisins and a very wee bit of sugar. Not too far from traditional, right? Especially seeing as how most of the recipes you find out there add eggs, honey, milk, butter, herbs and all kinds of whatnot.
And here's the best news of all... soda bread is easier than simple to make. No kneading (please don't knead!), the scragglier and messier it looks the better and you can mix and bake it all in no time.
This one isn't real sweet, but I do need my raisins. If you're not a raisin kind of person, leave them out. You'll be just that much closer to tradition. Here's the recipe...
P.S. If you're not into raisins, you could contemplate maybe adding just a bit more sugar to the dough. But that's your call. Totally up to you. (the raisins are awesome though)
Irish Soda Bread
Recipe adapted from James Beard via Mark Bittman
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir in the buttermilk, one half cup at a time, until the dough is soft but slightly sticky.
Lightly flour your hands and quickly knead the dough to form it into a rough ball in the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add just a little flour but do not over-knead or your bread will be tough.
Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet and using a sharp knife, cut a large cross in the top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the outside is brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it. Serve immediately or place in a ziplock bag to store for up to a few days.