Irish Soda Bread

Ahh, it's the time of the year when we all get together to drink green beverages to celebrate the arrival of a Roman Catholic in Ireland. A Roman Catholic who would teach the Irish about the Catholic religion and basically force the Druids underground, divide Christians and wreak general havoc.

It's true! St. Patrick was Italian and he did convert thousands of Protestants and Druids to the Catholic faith. He was a charmer, that one. Probably funny and handsome. Possibly with lots of dark, Italian hair and gorgeous teeth. Okay, I may possibly have him confused with my handsome husband who happens to have been born on the day we celebrate St. Patrick's impact on the world. If you're wondering what any of this has to do with Irish Soda Bread, frankly, so am I.

Every year in March we start seeing lots of delicious Irish dishes like corned beef and cabbage (sorry, barf) and colcannon (less barf) all over the interwebs. But you know what's always delicious? Irish Soda Bread. While the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (yes, that's really a thing) would like for us to know that anything besides flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk make it a "tea cake", I beg to differ. Sure, they have history on their side. But I have your taste buds' best interest in mind here, friends. And I have concocted something undeniably delicious, if you like bread.
And who doesn't like bread? Warm, doughy, delicious BREAD. It's the staff of life and all that!

The recipe is simple. The prep is easy. The bread is LOVELY. Make this one. Trust me.



Irish Soda Bread
Serves 16

4 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1-1/2 t salt

4 T cold unsalted butter, cubed

1-3/4 C cold buttermilk
1 large egg, cold
1 t orange zest

1-1/4 C raisins, currants or other dried fruit
1 T flour

1 t cream or milk
1 T turbinado or muscavado sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set it aside.
3. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt) in a stand mixer on low.
4. Add the butter, also on low, until crumbly.
5. Whisk the buttermilk, egg and zest to combine in a bowl. Pour into the dry mixture.
6. Toss the raisins in the 1T flour to coat. Add them to the bread mixture.
7. Turn the bread out onto a floured board and knead 5-10 times or until it has a sturdy-soft-still cold texture. I know, that is not the easy part I promised you. But do your best. It'll turn out even if you get this part wrong.
8. Form the dough into a ball and place it onto your parchment-lined baking sheet.
9. Brush the cream on top of the ball of dough.
10. Sprinkle the sugar as evenly as you can over top.
11. Score the top of the loaf (this means take a knife and cut a shallow cross into the top. This gives the dough room to expand in the oven).
12. Bake 35-40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with a spoon.

Let is cool as completely as you can - about 30 minutes to several hours. Slice however you like and serve with butter, jam, clotted cream. Oh, heck, it's a giant scone. Let's make the most of it, Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread be... well, you get the idea.

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