Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day!!  I love St. Patrick’s Day because there is so much yummy food associated with it!  I absolutely LOVE corned beef and cabbage but only buy it this time of year because that’s when it goes on sale.  You can also get a great price on red potatoes.

Our traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner is corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, Irish soda bread, and some minty dessert.  (I’m thinking mint is only associated with St. Patrick’s Day because we associate mint with green.)  “Soda bread” is a broad term for a variety of quick breads that are leavened with baking soda rather than yeast.

Mmmmm!!  My mouth is watering already!

The recipe that Kimiko and I have been using for years is from Mrs. Jung (pronounced “Young”), her high school home economics teacher.  It is so delicious and so easy!  The best way to describe it is that it is like a huge, slightly sweet, buttermilk biscuit.  You can mix in dried fruit or nuts, but we prefer it unadulterated.

The key to fabulously flaky soda bread is the incorporation of the butter.  It should be cold and cut in, not creamed or mixed in.  The easiest way to do this is to cut it into little cubes, then cut it in with a pastry blender.  From this point on, you want to work quickly so the butter does not warm up too much.

Right out of the fridge, quickly diced,...

...immediately cut in.

Irish Soda Bread
4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. (1 stick) butter, cold
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ c. butter, melted
¼ c. buttermilk, store-bought or homemade

Preheat oven to 375°.  Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.  Do not grease if using a stone.  In large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in ½ c. butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in 1 c. buttermilk and egg, just until mixed.  If necessary, quickly use hands to incorporate dry bits from bottom of bowl.

Use your hands minimally to prevent softening of the butter.

Dough will be crumbly and have dry spots.  Form dough into a round and place on baking sheet.

In small bowl or measuring cup, combine remaining ¼ c. melted butter and ¼ c. buttermilk.

I'm a dish minimalist so I melt the butter in my Pyrex then
measure the buttermilk into it.

Thoroughly brush top and sides of loaf with mixture.  Using a sharp knife, cut an “X” into top of loaf.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until golden brown, continuing to brush loaf with buttermilk mixture if desired.

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