March 16, 2013

The Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe -- Revisited

It's been a few year since I published my original Irish Soda Bread recipe and the long and rambling tale of how it came about.  In case you missed it (be relieved), the gist of the tale was that I worked for a short time during my late teens in an Irish Pub that was housed in an old sardine packing company in Cannery Row.  The pub had an enormous subterranean kitchen in which they baked the most humble-looking, yet incredible tasting Irish Soda bread.  I've been trying to recreate it ever since.

Since that first post, I've made a few revisions to my recipe and am delighted to share this very simple and delicious recipe for Irish Soda bread.  Slather with a good Irish butter to experience happily breaded-bliss!

Irish Soda Bread
(Makes one 8" loaf)

Prep time:  5 minutes
Baking time:  50 minutes

2 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer Hodgson Mill brand)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
10 Tablespoons cold, sweet cream butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups lowfat butermilk

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Butter an 8" round cake pan and set aside.

The first step can be done in a food processor or in a large bowl, using a pastry blender or two forks:

Food Processor:  In the bowl of a food processor, add flours, wheat germ, salt, sugar, and baking soda.  Pulse to combine (approx. 10 pulses).  Push the pieces of cold butter into the flour mixture. Pulse until mixture resembles a fine meal (approx. 12 pulses). Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

By Hand:  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, salt, sugar, and baking soda.  Push pieces of cold butter into the flour mixture, then work with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture resembles a fine meal.

Make a well in the center of the meal.  Add buttermilk and gently stir until the dough becomes shaggy.  Gently bring the dough together to form a ball (dough will be sticky), making sure to incorporate all the dry bits from the bottom of the bowl.

Place ball of dough in the buttered 8" pan and press down to fill the pan to the edges.  With a sharp knife, cut an "X" (1/2" deep) across the top of the dough.  

Bake for 40 minutes.  Bread will be golden brown and will have risen slightly.  Gently invert bread on to a plate or board.  Then, gently transfer back to the oven, directly on the wire rack, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.  When cool to the touch, you may slice and serve warm (texture is just a bit crumbly, like a buttery biscuit), or wrap the loaf overnight and serve the next day.  It is especially delicious when served toasted with Irish butter and honey.


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