By Emily Malloy
While Soda Bread is baked year round in the ovens of Ireland, it tends to be a treat only made to mark the Feast of St. Patrick in America. The best thing about this bread, aside from its versatility (as it can be eaten with any meal), is its simplicity.
Those who shy away from yeasted bread recipes can still bake a delicious loaf with no trouble. Traditional recipes use neither currants nor raisins, while most commonly in the States, raisins are a regular (and happily welcome) addition. Regardless of whether you prefer your Soda Bread with or without raisins, there is one requirement in the baking of this delectable bread: scoring the cross atop the dough as a blessing.
Oh drats! I neglected the second requirement: butter slathered on top of a warm slice! (You’re welcome).
St. Patrick, always trying to do good, pray for us!
Irish Soda Bread (with Raisins)
Yield: 1 loaf
Time: 1 hour+
4 cups all-purpose flour (+1 tablespoon reserved for raisins)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 3/4 cup buttermilk**
1 large egg
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup buttermilk**
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
**if you don't have buttermilk, you make your own using 1 3/4 cup milk + 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar, allowing it to stand 3-5 minutes before using
1. Preheat the oven to 375*F.
2. In a small bowl, stir 1 tablespoon of flour with the raisins. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingers, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles sand.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and milk. Add into flour mixture.
5. The dough should come together to be smooth and not too sticky.
6. On a floured surface, knead the dough for a few minutes, and begin to add the raisins, kneading them into the dough, shaping it into a ball. If it is too wet, add flour by the tablespoon until the right consistency is achieved.
7. On a prepared baking sheet or cast iron skillet, place the dough. Score a cross into the dough about 1" deep using a serraded knife.
8. Combine the two ingredients together to make the wash to brush over the bread.
9. Bake for 45-50 minutes, removing the bread every 15 minutes to brush on more of the wash, until golden brown or a knife comes out clean.
10. Serve immediately (with some salted butter for a real treat!).