Sunday, March 14, 2010

The best Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone a few days early.  Wanted to share with you a delicious Irish Soda Bread recipe before the actual holiday in case you actually want to make it for yourself.  As I type this, I am taking breaks to eat some of this very bread.  I made mine yesterday.

A friend at Harcourt made this one St. Patrick's Day for our pot luck lunch in the office.  It was so delicious that I had to have the recipe, which turns out, she found on Epicurious

I have made very minimal adjustments to the recipe when I have made this because the recipe is just so dang good as it's written.  The only things I have done differently, or could do differently, is add a touch more buttermilk if the dough is just a little too dry to fully combine (as it was last night for some reason).  Not being a fan of raisins, I also reduce the amount that goes in to just a cup and a half.  If you love raisins, you would probably like to use the entire amount called for.  I haven't tried it, but I bet you could make several smaller loaves from one recipe by using round cake pans.  Every time I've made it, I've used the 12-inch All-Clad skillet.  This turns out one monster huge loaf that is easy to cut up into chunks to give away or freeze. 

Here it is in it's entirely as written on the Epicurious website.  This bread also has a September 11th connection (see below), so now when I make this, I remember 9/11 as well as all my buddies and good times at Harcourt.  It's good bread in every way.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway
by Patrice Bedrosian, Brewster, New York
yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Patrice Bedrosian of Brewster, New York, writes: "In the days that followed September 11, 2001, I — like so many Americans — gravitated toward roast chicken, meat loaf, and anything that brought comfort and ease to my home. You see, my stepbrother, Jerry O'Leary, a 34-year-old chef working at Cantor Fitzgerald's corporate dining room in One World Trade Center, was among the many victims on that terrible day. "I feel quite certain that Jerry's love for cooking stemmed from his mother, Julie Lestrange. And as long as I can remember, she has always had something delicious waiting for my family whenever we visit.
"I would like to share a recipe that Julie has given to me. My hope is that you will, in turn, share it with my fellow readers, encouraging them to enjoy this delicious and comforting Irish bread, to smile, and to remember the love between a mother and a son."  Offer this easy-to-make bread with plenty of butter and your favorite jam.

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter heavy ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high sides. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky).

Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into flour, cut 1-inch-deep X in top center of dough. Bake until bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil; store at room temperature.)

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