Happy Almost St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the shamrock-filled, Guinness-drinking, corned beef eating holiday I decided to whip up a traditional St. Patty’s Day staple, at least here in the U.S.- Irish Soda Bread! While searching for recipes on various websites I found some information that we American’s might find pretty interesting! That traditional raisin-studded, caraway filled loaf that we’re used to seeing popping up in bakeries around March 17th isn’t as authentic as we might think.
According to Irish chef Rory O’Connell in an article I read on Epicurious.com, the quick bread that we call soda bread to is a wee bit different than what you would have found in Ireland back in the 1800s. The first main difference is that the Irish version is a very simple plain brown bread made with three ingredients, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and buttermilk, all of which would have been readily found back in the day. Our Americanized version contains white flour, which would have been only used for very special occasions, raisins, caraway, and butter these three being seen as luxuries. Now, how did the big change happen you ask, I have no idea but I blame it on the wee folk. I give whomever spiced up that boring recipe a pat on the back, because with the addition of butter, raisins, and caraway what you get is pretty much one really large, really tasty scone! So here’s a recipe I got from Bon Appétit and changed a bit, the caraway can be left out if you don’t fancy it.
Irish Soda Bread
2 cups AP flour
5 T sugar
1 ½ t baking powder
1 t salt
¾ t baking soda
2 T caraway seeds
3 T butter, cold and cubed
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins
- Preheat your oven to 375°F and butter and 8 inch cake pan.
- In a medium bowl sift or whisk together the flour, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- Whisk in the caraway.
- Incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients using either your hands or a pastry blender just until pea-sized balls form.
- Stir in the buttermilk and raisins.
- Form the dough into a loaf and transfer to the cake pan. Flatten the dough just a bit and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
Since this bread is a little sweet and very soft, it’s perfect for breakfast topped with some butter and jam!