Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Irish Soda Bread


I have no idea as to why, but I never had Irish soda bread until last year when I picked up a loaf from a local bakery to take to my friend’s house on my way to her St. Patrick’s day dinner. It was sitting on the seat next to me, and because of the wonderful aroma it filled my car with, I had a very difficult time leaving it alone until I reached her home. Not only did it smell like fresh-baked bread, but there was a definite sweetness to it, and a wonderfully rich smell. For some reason I always thought that Irish soda bread was a dry, tough, and chewy bread; but when we sliced into it at dinner and I had my first bite, I could not have been more wrong.



I was met with one of the most moist, creamy, buttery, and rich breads I’d ever encountered. Even the little raisins in the bread had plumped up with moisture and turned into soft little bursts of sweetness loaded into the loaf. The key to all the moisture is the thick buttermilk, whose high protein and moisture content keeps the bread from drying out when baking. So if you aren’t sure what to make for St. Patrick’s day, forget the stews, forget the Guinness cupcakes, and go straight for the fresh-baked soda bread. It can be enjoyed alongside dishes both sweet and savory, but in my opinion it’s best enjoyed standing on its own, smeared with a soft dollop of butter, so you can truly appreciate the depth of it’s traditional flavor.


I also shared this recipe over on Coca Cola's blog, Journey, where I am excited to say that I will be contributing regularly, hurray! And I'm still hacking away at editing all those Thailand photos. After sorting them into folders I came to the somewhat nerve-wracking realization that there are over 2,500 of them. Sooooooo yeah. It may be a few more weeks still until I'm able to post about it. But I'm still planning on sharing some tasty Thailand-inspired scones before then to hold you over along with some of my favorite instagrams from the trip, which you can take a sneak peek at here. Until then, I wish you all a joyous and feastful Saint Patrick's day, full of good food and drink. And be safe y'all, that's what lyft is for.



Ingredients


3 and 3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup butter, cold
1 egg
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon honey

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, raisins, and dates until combined and the raisins and dates are coated in the flour mixture. Grate the butter over the bowl on the largest hole setting, pausing and stirring the mixture every 10 seconds or so to coat the butter pieces in the flour mixture.  Set aside.


In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, orange zest, and honey until the honey has dissolved into the liquid. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and knead it together with your hands until a dough forms. Take the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 3-4 turns, or until it comes together and has smoothed out a bit. Shape the dough into a ball, cover it, and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


Remove the dough from the refrigerator, uncover it, and place it on a lightly greased 9-inch baking pan, patting it a couple times so it is slightly flattened on top.  Use a sharp knife to score a 1-inch deep cross in the top of the dough right before placing it in the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until it’s golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the dough comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.


20 comments:

  1. I've never made soda bread myself before, but this recipe looks craaazy good!! Yum!

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  2. Oh I love irish soda bread! When I lived in Scotland, one of my roommates was Irish and would make his grandmother's recipe once a month. He also made a reduced balsamic and honey oil and whipped it into butter. Brings back so many memories that I may just have to make this!

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    1. Holy moly, that balsamic and honey oil butter sounds INSANELY good. What an awesome roommate!! Just goes to show that I need to try more Irish recipes :)

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  3. We make soda bread every year for St. Patrick's Day! Kevin is super Irish, so he goes all out. Our loaves are sweet, but they're always pale and a bit tough. Your loaf is gorgeous! Perhaps I can convince the guy to try a new recipe this year. That's great that you're a contributing blogger to other websites now! Have you gone full time with food styling and blogging? I love the combed honey you've used in your photos. Someday when I have bees, I'm going to be loaded up on that stuff! I can't wait.

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    1. Oooooh if you guys give it a try please do let me know! I am having a lot of fun with contributing, it's exciting to develop recipes and styles for specific clients :) And combed honey! Yes, soooo tasty. I can't wait until you have bees, either! I will pester you with questions about them. Once I move up to Oregon I want to get a hive, they allow bee hives in the city so it will be no-holds-barred-bee-raising time.

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  4. Hooray, soda bread! It's one of my favorite quick breads ever, St. Patrick's Day or not. :) Love it!

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    1. Yes!! So fast and easy to make, and soooo soooo tasty.

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  5. Never tried one and now I would just jump into my screen and grab a slice, looks heavenly!! Did I mention how much I love your photos?! ;-)

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    1. Awwww thank you Lili!! I am so glad you like them :) And definitely do try this bread out, it's a quick bread and much faster and easier to make than most breads out there. Plus it makes your whole house smell amazing while its baking :)

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  6. Haha, the first time I tried Irish soda bread was maybe a couple years ago. Before that, I also thought it looked dry and tough. (Kind of like the fruitcake my husband's grandmother makes every year, which has the texture of sawdust! She's Irish so I think I lump all her baked goods into one unappealing category). But you're right - it's actually really delicious! Goes to show I really shouldn't judge food until I've tried it.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day! And yay for contributing to Coca Cola's blog!

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    1. Thank you Linda!! Yeah there's just something about the look of the exterior that makes you think it'd be one tough loaf, but once you cut into it, it's just soooo moist and wonderful. And irish fruitcake! I could imagine that that would be dry and not so pleasant haha. I am so glad Irish soda bread proves that not all Irish sweets are as rough and tumble as one would think :)

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  7. Soooo gorgeous! I love soda bread and how quickly it comes together. Yours look perfect!

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    1. Thank you Marie!! That's part of what I love so much about it, too. You can have fresh-baked bread in less than 2 hours! Amazing :D

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  8. This sounds amazingly delicious. I'm goin' for it!

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  9. i have never had soda bread before..i will have to change that soon although it wont be for st. patricks. your look heavenly.

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  10. soda bread always seems so dry to me, but i guess that's just a good excuse to add lots of butter and other yummy stuff... :)

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  11. hi there. where/who did you adapt this recipe from? thank you!

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  12. We had Irish soda bread at a party on Saturday and I loved it. I will be giving your recipe a try. Some have said that traditional soda bread does not have raisins or any dried fruit in it, but frankly I prefer it that way. Your photos are as amazing as ever, Eva.

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  13. Oh I so miss Irish soda bread. Yours looks so good I can almost - almost - smell it through the computer screen.

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