Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I am a total sucker for just about any holiday. It's a great excuse to try something new, make something tasty, and just plain celebrate.

Irish Soda Bread has been on my list of things to make for St. Patrick's Day for a couple years and it was so easy to make that I am kicking myself that I *had* to wait to before the holiday to make it. There is just something so rewarding about pulling a loaf of hot bread out of the oven and knowing you made it, especially one so rustic and beautiful.

Sadly, none of the pictures of the whole bread round even remotely turned out and we (along with some good friends) ate the rest at dinner last night, so I can only show you about a 10th of it's beauty. Thanks to the buttermilk, it was really moist, and the currants and orange zest added a really nice flavor to the mildly sweet bread.

Want to make the recipe but don't have any buttermilk? No worries! Make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (not the fake stuff from the bottle) or white vinegar to a one cup measuring cup, then add milk to reach the 1 c. line. Let it sit for 5 minutes and you have a perfect substitute.

Don't have currants? Use raisins or dried cranberries. Both would be perfectly delicious in this bread.

My oldest daughter created her own little glaze for the recipe with the juice of the leftover orange and some powdered sugar. It was a hit with the kids (and a couple of us adults). Have fun with this, make and eat it with people you love, and pinch all those that you find green-less tomorrow. I can't think of a better way to celebrate. Well, maybe with some Irish Cream, or an ice cold Smithwick's.

How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day?
Irish Soda Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 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 dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

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, and orange zest 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: Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa at Home

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