Wednesday, March 10, 2010
(Almost) Irish Soda Bread
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Ina Garten has develop a recipe for the best soda bread I've ever eaten. Unfortunately, it's inaptly named and bares only the slightest resemblance to a true Irish soda bread. The Irish began to use baking soda in the mid 1800's. Bread was made mostly in the summer months when potato stores had been exhausted and grains were needed to carry the poor through to the next harvest. They called the summer months "meal months" . Irish peasants lived, for the most part, on a diet of potatoes, grains and milk. Eggs, butter, zests, currants and nuts appeared only in the breads of English landholders or successful Irish emigres. True soda bread was a mix of flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. It was cooked in a bastible, a lidded cast-iron pot that was put right into the coals or on a turf fire. In the Southern part of the country, the bread was shaped into a round loaf that was scored with a cross that was made to "let the devil out" as the bread cooked. In Northern Ireland, the bread was baked in a flat circle called a farl. What is, today, called Irish Soda bread should really be called "Spotted Dog". Now, please understand, I don't fault Ina for not calling her bread that. It lacks panache and would be hard to sell even the most devoted of her followers. I just wanted to set the record straight before giving you the recipe for the best soda bread you'll ever have.
(Almost) Irish Soda Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Ina Garten
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1-3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2) Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter and mix on low speed until butter is mixed into the flour.
3) Lightly beat buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. Set mixer to low speed and slowly add buttermilk mixture to flour. Toss currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into dough.
4) Dump wet dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into top of bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean and loaf has a hollow sound when tapped. Serve warm or at room temperature.Yield: 1 loaf.
You might also like these recipes:
Barmbrack - One Perfect Bite
Boxty and Latkes - One Perfect Bite
Colcannon - One Perfect Bite