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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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

47 comments:

Allie and Pattie said...

Mary, I have been playing with soda bread recipes since marrying into this very Irish family. My children simply wouldn't eat it. My recipe now bears little resemblance to my mother-in-law's but is almost identical to Ina's! What can you do? Some things just improve with a bit of "tweaking" :)
xoxo Pattie

Martha said...

I've not tried Ina's recipe yet but perhaps I will soon. My soda bread has nary a currant in it and is baked in a loaf pan and is almost cakelike.

I will have to try hers -- for St. Pat's -- probably not for it's the only time I make mine. But Ina's looks like a good bread for afternoon tea with the especially with the addition of the orange zest.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I was just reminding myself that it's time to make some Irish Soda Bread - it's so interesting how such a well-known recipe was originally linked to the rhythms of the seasons and basic diet.

3 hungry tummies said...

I just bought some baking utensils so I might start with this recipe :)

zurin said...

thats an interesting background story. i agree Irish soda bread sounds much better ^^ it looks good too.

A Year on the Grill said...

Great stories (my favorite art of your blog)... But I prefer spotted dog... that has panache!

Foley said...

Couldn't believe how many recipes are out there for Irish Soda Bread..it's nice to run across one that is tried and true!

From the Kitchen said...

Top of the mornin' to you! I am going to "invite"you and Ina into my kitchen and make this bread. I've tried a lot of recipes for Irish soda bread and this one looks like a winner. Today, I'm making Ina's winter wheatberry salad. I'm beginning to think I should just cook my way through her cookbooks!!

I'm off to the market with just a light jacket on. The frozen tundra is beginning to melt.

Best,
Bonnie

Cathy said...

You are so right, Mary, this is a wonderful bread. This recipe will be part of my St. Patrick's Day blog crawl post at Cuisine Kathleen. The currants and orange zest add so much flavor.

I heartily recommend this to everyone.

Claudia said...

Yes, this looks to be an improvement - I do find true Irish soda bread a little dry - love the currants. Bookmarking this for St. Pat's Day.

My Little Space said...

It looks exactly like soda bread! Are you making this for the St. Patrick's day? Nice!

Mary said...

My Little Space...I probably won't make this again for St. Patrick's Day. Not because I don't like it but because I like it too much.

ARUNA said...

Gosh that bread looks so heavenly. I'm sure it is one yumm recipe. Liked the click.

Barbara said...

I copied Ina's recipe but ended up making one from Sarah Leah Chase's book. It turned out really well, although the dough was so wet that it was flatter than it should have been. She put whiskey in it which I thought was a good idea.

Pam said...

Your bread looks gorgeous and sounds delicious! Just wish I had a yummy slice right now! Love Ina's recipes and will have to try this one! thanks!

Hungry Dog said...

Thanks for the info about soda bread! Very interesting and new to me. I saw Ina make this recipe recently and have been thinking of it ever since. Now reading your post, I'm determined to make it this weekend!

Marcela S. said...

Thank you for the visit Mary. I'm glad you like my recipes. If you ever need help with any of them let me know; I know that Google translation is not always very helpful. Cheers.

Bridgett said...

Very interesting to know the history. My grandfather who was Irish used to make this bread and it was incredible. Your photo is very inviting.

Jamie said...

Mary, for as much as I love baking bread, I have never ever made Irish Soda Bread! Ina's actually looks more like stollen, or even a soft biscotto. Hmmm. Funny! How about making French Toast with it?

Kim said...

I loved the reading about the history of the soda bread! I've been wanting to try a version and it's nice to know that Ina's version is the best! I'm afraid my husband won't eat it with the currants, maybe I'll leave them out.

Jhonny walker said...

I loved this recipe...And tonight maybe one to try this. Simple and delish!

noble pig said...

I have wanted to try a good recipe for this!! Yum!

Mary said...

Jamie, I wouldn't advise it. This doesn't have the same texture of breads normally associated with French toast. This would act like a thirsty sponge and I doubt you'd get it to the pan in one piece.

Big Dude said...

Thanks for the history info. If I've ever eaten soda bread, I don't recall, but will get my baker on this when she gets back form the beach :).

Bob said...

Mmmm, soda bread. Love it. I didn't know all that about it either, good stuff.

Andreas said...

Nice bread. Thanks for the background information.

I wasn't very fond of soda bread in Ireland, but home-made always tastes best, doesn't it.

Penny said...

I appreciate the information about soda bread. I have been wanting to make Ina's "spotted dog" for a long time. Now I think I will.

hobby baker said...

LOL, love the history. I haven't made soda bread since college! That was... a while ago. This is the second soda bread I have seen posted this week. I guess it must be time to try out this recipe or find my old one that got me an A and compare them. Then bake them up! ;)

Joie de vivre said...

So this is what spotted dog is! I've seen a can of spotted dog and wondered what it was!

♥ Kathy said...

I love Irish soda bread

Holly said...

I love Ina's recipes:) I can almost smell how good this is;)

The Blonde Duck said...

I really want to try that this year.

Lele said...

My current favorite Irish soda bread (actually really my current favorite bread) is this one from Cooking Light:

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1963985

My Irish great-great grandmother would I'm sure find the use of buttermilk, whole wheat flour, etc. totally ridiculous, but it is SO INSANELY DELICIOUS! And healthy!

Pierce said...

I'll have to save this one for next week - St Pat's is just a week away, can you believe it?

Joanne said...

Eh. Let's be honest. Traditional irish soda bread isn't that great. but I'll take this one. Best you've ever had you say? I'll take it as soon as possible.

Kathleen said...

My bil came here in his teens. Yes, the raisins were for the rich..theirs was was very plain.

I worked on my recipe for years..it is not the fall apart dry stuff I remember as a kid. So many ISB's are plain awful! :)

I think I have made close to 1000 loaves over the years..One year I made 75 loaves for orders, and for all 4 gkids Christenings I made a loaf for each family to take home. It is a wonder I still eat the stuff..

Laurie said...

Thank you for sharing the history of the Irish Soda Bread! That is one of my favorite things about good old cookbooks, the history they tell!

The bread sounds yummy and looks lovely with the black backdrop!

JG said...

It looks so good!

Irish Soda Bread is one of our family favs. The Buttermilk is in the fridge just waiting. This weekend it will be used.

Martha's Menagerie said...

Sounds delicious! How else does everyone expect the devil to get out of the bread if they don't put the cross in it? ;-)

sophia said...

Ah, I didn't know there was a "proper" way to do Irish Soda bread...I just eat it! Haha! The first time I've had this bread was at Whole Foods...I would love to try making this at home!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Wonderful! Love the history lesson, and Ina never disappoints. :)

LDH said...

Well, I love Irish Soda Bread and I love Ina so this is going on my baking list. I have a recipe that I am quite fond of so it will be interesting to compare!

Thank you, Mary, for your great blog here. I enjoy visiting with you!

Lori said...

Oh my Mary- that looks like the best Irish soda bread ever. Not a surprise coming from you.

Madam Chow said...

Love the story! I will have to give this a try, since most of Ina's recipes are winners.

Katy ~ said...

I love the name "spotted dog"! I am sooo making this this weekend. Thank you!! So delighted to find a recipe from a trusted cook!!!

Light and Voices said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Lovely recipes are always to be had at One Perfect Bit.
Joyce M

Kathleen Mikaelian said...

Made it today and it was *delicious.* The whole thing is gone and everyone from the toddler on up loved it. I realized after I started that I didn't have 4 cups of AP flour in the house, so I substituted a cup of whole wheat flour and bumped up the buttermilk a bit to compensate...maybe an extra two or three tablespoons. It was perfect.

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