Cooking with Annie: Episode 11 – Irish Soda Bread

Hands down, my favorite meal to have with this bread is New England Boiled Dinner, an absolute classic.  Next would be a beef stew or other hearty soup.  It makes wonderful toast the next day and doesn’t last long in our house at all.  For those of you having a hard time finding yeast, this is a good one.  No yeast required.  Also, no rising time.  It’s an easy one!

It does call for buttermilk, but don’t fret.  If you don’t have that on hand, combine a bit more than 3/4 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes or so.  Presto!  Buttermilk is made.

Irish Soda Bread 
This is another recipe passed down through the women in my family. I’ve used dried apricots or raisins in place of the currants. The caraway seeds are traditional, but also optional. My grandma favored currents and caraway seeds and my mom made it unadorned. Either way, it’s a versatile recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 cup currants
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (maybe a little extra)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the milk. Stir until a ball just forms, adding a little extra buttermilk if needed to get everything to come together.  Turn onto floured board and knead until just combined, about 5 turns. Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6-inch round loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet. Make two perpendicular cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 1 loaf

Variations
Fennel and Raisin – Add 2 tablespoons fennel seeds and 1 cup raisins.
Caraway and Currants – Add 2 tablespoons caraway seeds and 1 cup currants.
Whole Wheat and Flax Seed – Replace 1 cup all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Add 3 tablespoons whole flax seeds.
Stilton and Chives – Reduce the buttermilk by 1 tablespoon. Add 1 cup crumbled Stilton and 1/2 cup minced chives.

Irish Soda Bread – Why mess with a good thing?

My Grandma wasn’t a fancy cook.  On the other hand, the recipes that she passed down to me are ones that I reach for time and time again.  They are tried, true and most importantly, good.  Her pancakes, her biscuits and of course her Irish Soda Bread (because, well that’s what today’s post is about), are ones I’m sure my daughters will use when they leave home.  I’m a creative girl, but there are just some things one doesn’t mess with.  Grandma’s recipes are such things.

On the Riggin, I’ll often serve this with New England Boiled Dinner, a traditional staple and a perfect meal for St. Patrick’s Day.

irish soda bread for st. patricks day
Shows the cross cut before going into the oven.
IrishSodaBread
The recipe times two make four loaves for a crowd (or a boat load)!

Irish Soda Bread
This is another recipe passed down through the women in my family.  I’ve used dried apricots or raisins in place of the currants (my only nod to my inner creative).  I’ll also change it by leaving out the caraway seeds which is how my children prefer it.

The recipe calls for sour milk, which we now mostly call buttermilk, but in honor of my Grandma, I’ve left the orginal language.  To actually make sour milk, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the 1 3/4 cup of milk and let sit for 1 to 5 minutes to curdle.  Then add to recipe as instructed.

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup currants
1 1/2 cups sour milk, plus 2 tablespoons – extra if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Mix in the sugar, caraway seeds and currants.  Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the milk with your hands until a ball forms. If there are still little bits of flour that are not incorporated, add a little bit more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a complete ball.

Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth (about 5-10 turns).  Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6″ round loaves.  Place the loaves on a cookie pan.  Make two cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross.  Bake for 40 minutes or until the top and bottoms are golden brown and a long toothpick or fork comes clean when inserted into the center of a loaf.

Cool before slicing.

Makes 2 loaves

Annie
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Cook the Book – Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread goes perfect with New England Boiled Dinner and of course the perfect side for your St Patrick’s Day dinner.

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 (the devil) or to let the fairies out of the bread.

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2  teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup currants
1 1/2 cups sour milk

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Mix in the sugar, caraway seeds and raisins.
Stir in the milk until a ball forms. Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth (about 5-10 turns). Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6″ round loaves. Place the loaves on the cookie pan. Make two cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves

Recipe from At Home, At Sea: Recipes from the Maine Windjammer J&E Riggin

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