I have a confession to make. I love watching DVDs of Julia Child shows as I’m falling asleep. I find her voice strangely comforting. This may explain my food dreams, but that is another story.
I was watching Baking with Julia…the quick breads episode with Marion Cunningham. I was obsessed with how Marion Cunningham mixed practically EVERYTHING with her hands. I had Irish Soda Bread firmly embedded in my brain.
Irish soda bread, in my mind, is the ultimate quick bread. Simple ingredients, the bread leavened by the CO2 bubbles created by the baking soda reacting with the acid in the buttermilk.
The only debate, then, is whether you make Irish Soda Bread plain, or with “stuff” in it. For me, as I dislike caraway seeds (and anything that tastes of black licorice, for that matter, blech), the question is….with or without raisins? I usually do with, unless it is a part of a St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Irish Soda Bread (Adapted from Baking with Julia and other recipes from the web)
- 4 to 4.25 cups flour (depending on the humidity of your location or the day)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or in my case, 7 tbsp of Saco Buttermilk blend)
Preheat oven to 400°. Make sure the oven is well heated before starting the mixing process — as soon as the liquid is added, the leavening process will begin.
Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. If you are using Saco, blend the powder in at this point.
Work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk (or water) to well and mix in until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. The dough will be a little sticky — STOP as soon as the shape is formed — work dough just enough so the dough just barely comes together.
Transfer dough onto a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape. Bake bread until golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes.
Cool and serve.