I recommend you incorporate this Irish soda bread into your St. Patrick’s Day. It is an easy and very inexpensive bread to make, which made it a popular choice in Ireland after the potato famine of 1845, during which it originated. It is called soda bread because baking soda is used as a leavening agent (instead of yeast).
- 6 cups of all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon, plus some for dusting the pan
- ¼ cup of granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
- 2 cups of raisins
- 2 1/3 cups of whole buttermilk
- ¼ cup of unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter and dust with flour an 8-inch cake pan, or spray with baking spray with flour.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk 6 cups of flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, and mix in raisins. Slowly add buttermilk and melted butter, and stir until the flour mixture is just moistened.
Knead by hand just until ingredients are combined. Shape dough into a ball and transfer it to the prepared baking pan.
Using a sharp knife cut a ½ inch deep cross on the top of the bread and sprinkle remaining teaspoon of flour on the top of the dough.
This represents the traditional cross blessing, and, superstition has it that, if this step is skipped, the bread will be jinxed and it will not rise. Other interpretations of this superstition had it protecting the household from the devil.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a wooden stick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. During the baking process, enjoy the delightful smells emanating from your oven, which will be a sign of the joy to come when you taste this remarkable bread.
Bread will be golden brown with a crunchy exterior and a soft and slightly tangy (courtesy of the buttermilk!) and sweet interior. This is an ideal bread to eat with some butter and jam and your morning cup of coffee. Plan a leisurely breakfast – this bread is meant to be savored.
1 large boule, about 16 servings.
Inspired by ‘Bake From Scratch’ magazine from March/April 2017.
Prep time: approximately 15 minutes
Active cook time: approximately 50 minutes
Total time: approximately 65 minutes
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