Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread - Traditional?

Funny that I now have two St. Patrick's Day posts! St. Patrick's Day was never my thing, and I can't explain why but perhaps baking is making me expand my thinking!

On to the soda bread!

Irish soda bread for St. Patricks Day

So I saw friends posts on Facebook about baking up Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day, and I remembered in grade school we would always have St. Patrick's Day parties the our teacher would always say, "Class, so and so's mom baked us this special Irish soda bread in honor of St. Patrick's Day!" And I thought it would be really special and tasty and cool, and it NEVER was! I was terribly it always has raisins and I hate raisins (they're just rotten grapes).

So it got me thinking what was in that stuff anyway? I don't remember much about it except a big hype then a let down. So I googled the traditional, "right" way to make it, and was happy to find out 1) it's super simple and 2) it's not supposed to have raisins in it! If it does, it's not Irish soda bread. Aha! So I was off and running to make it "the right way."

I found a wealth of information here at the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread's website. Yet I used this recipe which I deemed traditional but was also speaking more of my language in ease of understanding the recipe.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread
As found on by
Halcyon Eve

Yields 1 loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 -1 1/2 cup buttermilk (I substituted 1 cup regular milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush a baking sheet with melted butter or spray with non-stick spray. (I just lined with parchment)
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a deep bowl. Gradually stir in 1 cup buttermilk, beating constantly, until dough is firm enough to be gathered into a ball. If dough crumbles, add up to 1/2 cup more buttermilk, 1 tbsp at a time, until it holds together.
  3. Place on a lightly floured board and pat into an 8-inch flattened round loaf.
  4. Place loaf on baking sheet and slash a 1/2-inch deep "X" into the top of the dough with a small, sharp knife.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden.
And here's what I got!

My first Irish soda bread

I think it was semi-successful? I need to borrow someone's Irish grandmother to help me out... I only used 1 cup of the buttermilk and it was crumbly but held I didn't add more. Plus I expected the crust to be super tough...but this was a match for my knife...not to mention my teeth. It's not super thick so it's edible, but be careful! The inside is chewy and a good consistency I think, but again, how do I know? Was it too dry? Should I have added more buttermilk? All good questions...

Sliced Irish soda bread

I'll try this again in the St. Patrick's Day "off season" I think since I LOVE bread in general and it was so easy to make. I'd like to use some different flours as detailed here and try out some tricks for a friendlier crust.

Happy St. Patrick's Day baking! :oD

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