07 March 2013
I love it when my readers send in requests. Lana of Life at Wildberry Cottage left the following comment on my Buttermilk Biscuits post: "Recipe looks easy, and I agree with you about the organic ingredients. With St. Patrick's Day coming up next month, would you have a recipe for Irish soda bread that does not come out dry? I have tried many recipes that fall short."
It had been a long time since I'd made it, so I had to dig through a few boxes to find the recipe I'd developed years ago. Like Lana, I don't like soda bread that's overly dry and crumbly. I hope she--and you--will find my recipe to your liking. Do let me know! Keep in mind that this is a bread best eaten on the day it's made or toasted the next day.
Since I'm not Irish (though Danny Boy always makes me cry!), I make no claims about "authenticity." But this does taste very much like the bread served at a nearby Irish pub. Some purists would object, I'm sure, to the brown sugar, the butter or the egg--or all three. But I think one or all of those might be the very things that give this loaf the texture I like. It's the perfect accompaniment to soups and stews.
Irish Brown Soda Bread
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put a 12-inch square of parchment paper on baking sheet.
2 In large bowl, whisk together flours, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. With fingers, rub butter into flour mixture. In 2-cup glass measure, beat egg and add buttermilk (about 1 3/4 cups) to the 2-cup line.
3 Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Slowly bring the flour mixture into the liquid. Stir gently to combine into a slightly sticky dough that can be formed into a ball. Knead lightly, right in the bowl, not more than 5 or 6 times, forming into a ball.
4 Place ball of dough on parchment-lined baking sheet. Dough should (but may not) be of a consistency to flatten itself just slightly. Press it down a bit to a diameter of roughly 6 1/2 to 7 inches and a height of about 2 to 2 1/2 inches. With sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep "+" on top of dough (helps the bread to cook through and not have a doughy middle).
5 Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until it tests done. I do two tests: 1. stick a toothpick in the center and see if it comes out clean and 2. tap it on the bottom and see if it sounds hollow. To cool, place the loaf on a wire rack and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours, before slicing, or it may be too crumbly and not hold together well.
Note: For breakfast, serve with butter (such as, Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter) and marmalade. For dinner, serve with butter. For appetizers, spread with butter and top with smoked salmon or prosciutto (I use Applegate).