Growing up in a rather multicultural town, I was fortunate enough to get to experience many different types of cuisine. One such treat that was shared around town was a classic Irish soda bread. It’s a bread leavened with baking soda, and in many ways its creation resembles the method of making scones. The dough should be kneaded and handled as little as possible.
There are many variations of Irish soda bread out there (probably about one recipe for every family). Some have buttermilk, some have oats, others have raisins or caraway seeds. Feel free to look up many recipes and experiment to find one that fits your own tastes. We, of course, can’t help sharing our own favorite. This bread will last only about two days or so before it starts to stale, so eat fast (not that that’s ever been a problem in my household). Serve with cheese and jam or preserves, or simply with a knob of butter. Here’s our favorite recipe…
Irish Soda Bread
(makes 6-8 servings)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon quick cooking oats
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/4 cup brandy
- Combine raisins and brandy in a small bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, 1 cup oats, baking powder, the baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup buttermilk, honey, egg, and butter until well blended. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Stir in the raisins.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead 5 to 6 times, then shape it into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and pat down into an 8″ round. Brush the top with the remaining buttermilk, then sprinkle with the remaining oats. Use a sharp knife to slash the top of the dough with an X about 1/2″ deep.
- Bake until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped (35 to 40 minutes). Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home