Irish soda bread

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Celebrate St. Patrick's day by baking a loaf of Irish soda bread, a type of quick bread that originated in Ireland. The history, according to Wikipedia, is as follows:

Soda bread dates back to approximately 1840, when bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland. Because the climate of Ireland hinders the growth of hard wheat (which creates a flour that rises easily with the assistance of yeast), bicarbonate of soda replaced yeast as the leavening agent.

There are several theories as to the significance of the cross in soda bread. Some believe that the cross was placed in the bread to ward off evil. It is also possible that the cross is used to help with the cooking of the bread or to serve as a guideline for even slices.

Soda bread eventually became a staple of the Irish diet. It was, and still is, used as an accompaniment to a meal.

And now that you know the history of Irish soda bread, you may now proceed to make the following recipe! I made this myself and it turned out pretty tasty. This bread recipe is easy, too, because no yeastie beasties or kneading is required.

IRISH SODA BREAD WITH RAISINS (Recipe from Epicurious.com)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 cups all purpose flour

5 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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