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Monday, March 10, 2014

Irish soda bread

My friend E's mom makes THE best Irish Soda Bread.  I don't know what it is that makes it so amazing, but it is seriously SO GOOD.  She sends it down to E in the city, and I always hope I'm lucky enough to get a little piece.  So with St. Patrick's Day a week away, I decided to attempt Irish Soda Bread.

One thing I should get out in the open right now: I am not Irish.  Not one bit.  So if you are Irish, and you see this recipe and think "does she seriously think that that's Irish Soda Bread?!," I will insert my disclaimer here.  I really, really, really thought that Irish Soda Bread had caraway seeds in it.  But neither of the two recipes I found included them.  So with two recipes to choose from, I went with this one.

Another thing?  I really don't like orange zest.  Yuck!  I debated keeping it out of this recipe, but threw it in last minute.  Of course I couldn't find my microplane anywhere, so I ended up chopping some orange peel and adding it in.  Also, I think I undershot the amount a little bit.  I'm OK with that.  But I just needed to come clean to you.  But you know what?  The orange zest is SO perfect in this bread.  Don't leave it out, I beg of thee, even if you're gut response to orange zest is "YUCK!!" like mine usually is.

Ina Garten's Irish Soda Bread


4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp for currants
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1.75 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten (I confess....I used a Jumbo egg, since all I had were large and Jumbo, and I didn't want to buy another dozen eggs just for one extra-large egg for this recipe)
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants (before you ask, I'm sure that raisins would be fine, too)


Preheat oven to 375F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture.

Combine the currants with 1 Tbsp flour.
Mix into the dough.
It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board (or use your counter, like I did).
Knead it a few times into a found loaf.
Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an "X" into the top of the bread with a serrated knife.  I recommend doing it like this, instead of doing what I did, which was cut the "X" and then attempt to move it to the baking sheet, therefore causing the loaf to look a little lopsided.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
When you tap the load, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

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