Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I normally don’t bake for this holiday, but decided to go ahead and try Irish Soda Bread for the first time so I could cross it off my 2016 Baking Bucket List. Since I’d never made it before, I decided to go the traditional Irish route and bake it without American additions such as raisins, currants, caraway seeds, etc.
The loaf was a breeze to put together, and I liked that I could bake it in my beloved cast iron. Though I can’t say this bread is going to become my favorite any time soon, it did have a pleasant flavor and a nice hearty texture that would go perfectly with stew.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. cream of tartar
1½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1¾ cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 400 ºF. Mix flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and use your fingers to rub into dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
2. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in 1½ cups of the buttermilk. Work buttermilk in using a fork until dough comes together in large clumps and there is no dry flour in bottom of bowl, adding up to the additional ¼ cup buttermilk if necessary to moisten all flour.
3. Turn dough into lightly floured 12-inch cast iron skillet and pat into a 6-inch mound. Dough will be scrappy and uneven. Score a deep cross, about 5 inches long and ¾ inch deep, on top of loaf. Bake until nicely browned and knife inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
4. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter and brush over loaf. Let bread cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Yield: 8 servings
(Recipe from Cooks Illustrated Baking Book)