Irish Soda Bread

So another Saint Patrick’s Day is here, and many of my friends are planning of the traditional corned beef and cabbage dish we all love. One thing that I noticed was that many of my friends didn’t plan on making soda bread to go with it. Corned beef and cabbage without soda bread is like a movie with no popcorn, it’s just wrong.

The Irish actually didn’t invent soda bread but it has become most identified to them. The soft wheat grown in Ireland doesn’t form gluten like in traditional dough, but it’s great for soda bread. There are many different stories as to why the “X” is cut into the top, some say it’s to let the heat into the bread as it cooks, others say it makes it easy to split it into four pieces. There are folk tales of it being the mark of the cross, and even that during cooking it lets the fairies or even the devil himself out. I’m guessing it is to help let the heat in, but devil free bread is a big “score”!

Making traditional Irish soda bread is really easy and it adds that final touch to your holiday meal. So let’s get started.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and lightly grease a cast iron skillet. You can use a baking sheet lined with parchment if you don’t want to use a skillet.

Using a pastry cutter (or 2 knives), work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles chunky coarse meal then add in the raisins.Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too hard to stir. Dust your hands with a little flour then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Do not over-knead the dough, you want the ingredients to barely come together if you over-do it you will be baking a rock, and no one likes baked rocks. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. If the dough is a little sticky don’t worry it should be a little sticky, so you’re good.

Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet. Using a knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks, and if it makes you feel any better lets out any random pesky fairies. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. The bottom should have a hallow sound to it when you tap it. Remember if you use a cast iron pan, it usually takes a little longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet. You can also check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin wooden skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, and enjoy.

Irish Soda Bread

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
...

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • cups cold buttermilk shaken
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and lightly grease a cast iron skillet.
  • Using a pastry cutter work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles chunky coarse meal then add in the raisins.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then add the beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too hard to stir.
  • Dust your 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.
  • Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet.
  • Using a knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape.
  • Pop it in the oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.
  • The bottom should have a hallow sound to it when you tap it, or you can also check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin wooden skewer into the center.
  • If the skewer comes out clean, it's done.
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