Sunday, March 1, 2015

Irish Soda Bread






















What is thought of as Irish soda bread is really an American invention. In the 1840's baking soda mixed with buttermilk allowed people to make bread at home without ovens. The bread was baked in cast iron pots with lids placed directly over hot coals. The original recipe did not include sugar, butter, eggs or dried fruit. Several recipe books published in the UK in 1866 and 1868 give the standard recipe for soda bread with the note that "it is much eaten in the United States."

Cutting an X into the top of the loaf allows the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread.
There is the expression "to let the devil out of the bread," so it is slightly superstitious. And if you make that cruciform shape on the bread, when it bakes it will break beautifully.
So you have the blessing of the bread by putting the cross on it and then you have the symbolic breaking of the bread.


Irish Soda Bread   
 
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
Mix the buttermilk and egg together.
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 a very wet dough.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it a few times.
Shape into a round loaf.
Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and cut an X into the top of the loaf with a serrated knife.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
When tapped the loaf will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Tip:
Martha White or White Lily flour are the best flour to use for this bread.  A soft winter wheat
flour will produce the lightest bread.


Printable Recipe