Friday, June 3, 2011

Irish soda bread

Many people that I talk to claim that they don't like Irish soda bread.  I'm supposing that's because they haven't tried mine yet ;-) 

OK, seriously, one of the biggest mistakes that I think many American bakers make with soda bread is adding an egg to the mix.  99% of the Irish recipes I've seen don't use any eggs.  So why do we add them?  Because we think that an egg will make the bread moister and keep it from being crumbly. 

Uh, news flash...Irish soda bread is supposed to be crumbly, but it's not supposed to be dry.  By adding an egg, you now have to bake it longer, so you've got more of a chance that it's going to end up dry anyway.  Just bake it until it's done but not overdone and you'll like it just fine.  Also, don't use bread forms more gluten, and you actually don't want this bread to do that.  It's supposed to be crumbly, remember?  :-) 

The options that I listed below are all variations that I've tried: the amount of sugar you use is up to your personal taste.  Take a little taste of the won't hurt you because there are no raw eggs in there!  As for baking powder plus milk vs baking soda plus buttermilk, the buttermilk will give you a slightly (but only very slightly) tangier bread.

Irish Soda Bread

3 c flour (1 c cake flour plus 2 c AP flour preferred)
1 T baking powder (or 1 1/2 t baking soda and 1 1/2 t cream of tartar, plus buttermilk instead of milk)
1/4 t salt
1/2 to 1 c sugar
2 T softened butter
1 c raisins or currants
1 T caraway seeds
1 c milk (or buttermilk if using baking soda)

Whisk the flour, leavening, salt and sugar together.  Work the butter in with your fingers until it's evenly distributed.  Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds, and add enough milk to make a thick dough.  Mix only enough to moisten all the flour.  Form into a big biscuit or into several smaller rounds and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375, turning the pan partway through.  It takes approximately 35 minutes for 3 small rounds, approximately 45 to 50 minutes for one large round.  Test with a wooden skewer.   


ARLENE said...

I've been using the same recipe for Irish soda bread for years, my former secretary's. I have to go check if it uses an egg. It's cake-like and crumbly, so I suspect it doesn't. Thanks for that information.

Shirley said...

Ok, I'm marking this one. I'm going to try it with Spelt, which has a lovely flavor all on it's own.

Baby Sumo said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe, will give it a go when I have some time! :)