Recipes for real honest-to-goodness Irish Soda Bread (like those you’d find in an Irish cookbook) have only four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.
But Irish Soda Bread bakers in this country, for some reason, want to get all fancy and add all kinds of stuff to the mix like dried fruit, nuts and even chocolate chips (seriously?). I’m not judging, but that’s a quick bread, not Irish Soda Bread.
This recipe for Irish Soda Bread leans more toward the classic, but with a little brown sugar thrown in to balance out the tanginess of the buttermilk. Buying the right flour helps, too, which keeps the bread tender inside the very crunchy crust.
If you leave out the add-ins, this makes a terrific all-purpose bread. Smear it with jam and butter or use it to make deliciously hearty sandwiches.
As in life, keeping it simple and honest is the best recipe.
Simple Irish Soda Bread
prep: 20 minutes
bake: 40 to 45 minutes
you’ll need... 3 cups lower-protein unbleached flour (plus a little extra for dusting)
1 cup plain cake flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
4 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
1½ cups buttermilk
let’s get to it...
Place the oven rack in the upper-middle position. Heat oven to 400°F.
Sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar into a bowl. In a separate bowl, blend 2 tablespoons of the softened butter and buttermilk.
Stir the butter and buttermilk into the dry ingredients using a fork until the dough starts to hold together. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly dusted cutting board or clean counter.
Knead gently until the dough holds together (it will not be smooth). Don’t overwork the dough or it will be tough! Form the dough into a disk 6-inches across and 2-inches high. Place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet (you can also grease the baking sheet if you don’t have parchment paper). With a sharp knife, cut a cross on top of the dough (this is called blessing the bread).
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when the bottom is tapped.
Brush the top the top of the bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons of softened butter.
cooking know-how: Cool the bread completely before cutting (I know it will be tempting!). Otherwise the bread will be somewhat wet and spongy and not light and tender.
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