Friday, April 1, 2011

Irish Soda Bread and tea time...

Irish Soda Bread
My mother was in town recently for a stamp convention.  Whenever she visits; my sister, mother and I like to go to tea at the St. James Tearoom.  For March, one of the tiers of delightful treats at tea had a small Irish Soda Bread roll made with dried currents.  It was tasty and I became a little obsessed...I wanted to make Irish Soda Bread too. 

That night I went through all of my cooking/baking books that I own.  I finally came across a recipe in "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook", of course she had a recipe...why on Earth didn't I check this book first (this was "DOH!" moment).  I studied the recipe carefully; I find bread making intimidating, to say the least.  Since soda bread is not a yeast bread I felt a little more confident, but not by much.  

I set out the next morning ready to concur the world!  Ok, maybe not the world, but I expected a lot out of this bread.  I got started...after a little pep talk and 2 cups of tea, of course. 

Irish Soda Bread from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook   
For printable recipe, please click here 
4 C all-purpose flour
¼ C sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½  tsp All Spice*  
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold
2 C Dried Cranberries**
1 ½ scant C buttermilk
1 lrg egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 lrg egg yolk
1 Tbsp heavy cream

Heat oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder & all spice until well combined.

Using a pastry cutter or two knives in scissor fashion, cut in butter until the mixture feels like coarse meal. Stir in dried cranberries until evenly distributed.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and baking soda until well combined.  Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour-and-butter mixture all at once, and stir with a fork until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to hold together, it should resemble a rough biscuit dough.  Using your hands, press the dough into a round, dome-shaped loaf about 8 inches in diameter.  Lift the loaf from the bowl, and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. 

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream together.  With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the loaf. With a sharp knife or razor, incise a cross, about ½ inch deep, into the top of the loaf.  Transfer to the oven.  Bake, rotating halfway through, until it is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 70 minutes.  Remove from oven, and transfer bread from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. 

* The recipe actually calls for 2Tbsp of Caraway Seed.  I replaced the caraway seed with all spice, I didn't have caraway on hand and I thought the all spice would be a nice touch to the flavors of the bread. 

**The recipe calls for 2 C raisins.  I replaced the raisins with dried cranberries, because I am not a big raisin fan.  I like the taste of dried cranberries as a substitute for things that call for raisins. 

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread, after being sliced
I followed the recipe to the letter, except for the noted changes, and the result was an amazing bread that I plan on making again and again.  It may not bring world peace, but it tastes really good and isn't that all any baker can ask for.

Enjoy the foods of your labor.  :-)


Two Pitties in the City said...

I've never even known about soda bread, though this is the second time in 2 weeks I've heard of it. Looks delish!

Kirk said...

We are just going to start calling you Trissi O'Valadez.