Sunday, March 17, 2013

Grandma's Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patricks Day! Growing up, my favorite memories of St. Patrick's Day are all centered around the table (now, does that come as a shock to any of you?). For me, the celebration of Saint Patrick has two requirements, the first being corned beef and cabbage, and second (and more importantly) Irish soda bread with plenty of whipped butter. This recipe is one that was passed on to me by my Grandma, and it was given to her by her mother who brought it with her to America from Ireland. Every Irish family has their own version of traditional Irish soda bread, but this is the one I grew up loving. It has just the right amount of raisins and the most perfect buttery and sweet flavor. If your family has a traditional recipe, I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Recipe yields 2 medium loaves

5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups raisins
2 tbsp caraway seeds (these are optional, I personally don't care for them so I left them out)
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

Plenty of extra butter and jam for topping

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Measure out your flour and sift it into a large mixing bowl.

Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl and whisk together.

Slice the butter into cubes and add them to the bowl with the dry ingredients. You want to make sure your butter is soft, room temperature, so it will be easier to mix.

Using your hands, combine the dry ingredients with the butter to form a crumbly mixture. (I am not sure if crumbly is a word, but in essence, you want plenty of crumbs to form.)

Add your raisins and stir to incorporate them. Try to coat all of the raisins in the crumb mixture. This will help them 'float' in the bread and not all sink to the bottom while baking.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk until well combined.

Create a well in the center of your ingredients. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture while continuously stirring. Your dough will be very sticky - thats what you want!

Now you can either split your dough in half to make two loaves or bake one giant loaf. I split mine in half and baked each half in a 9" cake pan lined with greased parchment paper.

Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. You will know when the bread is ready because it will have a golden brown top, it will sound hollow if you tap it with the back of a spoon and a tester will come out clean as can be. If after 40 minutes your bread is not ready, continue to check it every 2 minutes so you do not over bake it.

Once you remove it from the oven, coat the top with a layer of butter while still warm to soak into the bread. Slice it up and enjoy all day long with butter and jam. Or serve it with bacon for a traditional bacon sandwich. However you prefer it, enjoy!

Tip: For an extra sweet treat, soak your raisins in whiskey over night and drain them of any excess liquid before adding to your ingredients.

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