Friday, April 8, 2016

Irish Soda Bread

This is an ‘easy’ bread to make; probably a ‘beginners’ bread. It was a ‘meager’ Valentine’s Day Sunday brunch offering to both my husband and my daughter.

The cool thing about Irish Soda Bread that makes it easier to make than other homemade bread recipes is that it does not need to be punched down and left to rise (repeatedly.) It is an ‘easy’ fast alternative to other breads you might make…You can make it to add to your meal a few hours (even an hour and 1/2-which is how long it took me…) before you eat!
The bread in these photos is a variation of a recipe of one of the truly good cooks whose television series I follow, Ina Garten (of Food Network.) I always seem to (really) want to cook at least one recipe from each of her shows!

Ina shared this recipe on her program ‘Barefoot Contessa’ this past week. I enjoy her down to earth approach to cooking (and most if not all of her food choices.)
The recipe is as follows (please note that I could not find dried currants so I used finely chopped dried cherries instead. I also added 2 1/4 tablespoons of dried chives for my version to deliver on the savory note.)

Irish Soda Bread
Yield:1 loaf
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I do not have a fancy mixer so I combined the ingredients with a large fork and with mixing by hand.) Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

One more tip: as Ina stated on her show, this is a wet (and sticky) bread dough. Liberally flour both your hands (repeatedly) and your cutting board to turn out and gently knead this dough! I had a sticky mess on my hands and had to try and get more flour on the board to work with this dough!

It came out great!

It has a savory, slightly sweet flavor (the cherries, as a change to Ina’s recipe, are absolutely delish…) with a huge amount of texture (and even fluffiness inside.) One of the best parts to this bread is its very crunchy, thick crust!

Make sure that you brown the top. Eat with butter or with a smidgen of your favorite jelly or jam! (I used a small amount of ginger jam which I had never tried before.) The parchment paper recommended in the recipe makes any clean up a breeze.
I hope you try it! Enjoy!
Eat with your eyes!😉


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