Thursday, March 18, 2010

White Irish Soda Bread

Happy (belated) St. Paddy's Day!  For dinner on St. Patrick's Day Alex requested a loaf of soda bread.  Since he rarely requests things, and since I was already planning on making an Irish (or Irish-inspired, you be the judge) meal for St. Patrick's, I figured why not.  I've never baked a loaf of bread before, but soda bread sounded easy enough.  Then we started looking at recipes and Alex started complaining that he didn't want any raisins or any caraway seeds in his soda bread.  Alex doesn't like anything in his baked goods - particularly not raisins.  And he hates caraway seeds.  Sometimes he is difficult.  Then again, he's mostly very appreciative of everything I cook (even the weird things), so I will give him a bye on this one.  Plus he is a very good sport about helping me cook up some of the weirder and more complicated recipes that I come across.  In my defense, he does come up with some pretty weird recipes on his own too.  And then he is fabulous about helping me clean up afterward.  Ok, so he's pretty great (raisin and nut discrimination notwithstanding).

This soda bread recipe is about as easy and simple as they get.  All you need is baking soda, flour, buttermilk, and salt.  That's it.  Oh and I brushed the outside of the loaf with a little melted butter as it was baking to give it that nice golden brown shiny crust, but that is certainly not required.  Some Irish soda bread recipes contain brown sugar, and other random ingredients, but if I was going plain, I wanted to go really plain.  I served the soda bread warm and slathered with some fresh sweet butter sprinkled with a little sea salt.  Yum.

Recipe after the jump!

White Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from Bon Appetit
May 1996

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp butter, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Lightly butter and flour a rimmed baking sheet.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Mix in buttermilk with a wooden spoon.  Mixture should form moist clumps. Gather dough into a ball.  Turn dough out onto a  lightly floured surfaced and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute.  Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round.  Place dough on prepared baking sheet.  Cut a large X across the top of the bread.  The X should be about 1 inch deep and should extend almost to the edges.  Brush dough with melted butter, if using.  Bake bread  until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35-40 minutes. 

Transfer bread to rack and cool.  Bread can be served warm or at room temperature.

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