Irish Soda Bread
Growing up, a lot of us often ate Irish soda bread with beef stew on Sundays. It was usually a tangy buttermilk-rich white bread, meant for sopping up broth more than anything else. This version, however, has a nuttier, more complex flavor thanks to whole wheat flour, and it’s speckled with plump, juicy raisins — perfectly savory and sweet.
The beauty of soda bread is that it rises from the reaction between the baking soda and the acid in the buttermilk, rather than yeast, so you can make it on a whim and enjoy a slice about an hour and a half later. But because the rising starts to happen the second the baking soda and the buttermilk come into contact, you’ll want to get it in the oven quickly after the mixing. Luckily, there’s very little kneading once the dough is combined into a rough, shaggy blob. In fact, the less you knead the dough, the better: it’ll bake up with a moist, crumbly center and a super crunchy crust.
We like to eat our soda bread with a thick slathering of butter, to add some rich creaminess to the chewy crumb, and a sprinkling of flake salt for a little crunch. It makes for a wholesome, satisfying snack or breakfast — but it’s also just sweet enough to qualify as a satisfying late-night treat.
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
⅔ cup raisins or currants
1 ⅓ cups buttermilk
1 large Gelson’s egg
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly grease an 8" or 9" round cake pan.
In a food processor, pulse together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt. Add the 4 tablespoons cold butter and pulse until incorporated. The mixture should look like a coarse meal.
Transfer the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the raisins or currants.
In a measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, and mix to combine. The dough should be stiff and shaggy.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a couple of times to make sure it's holding together, being careful not to overwork it, then shape it into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly into a disc and, using a sharp knife, cut a ½"-deep cross in the top of the loaf. Transfer the loaf to the prepared cake pan.
Bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes, or until it's golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven and brush the top with the melted butter.
The bread may be stored at room temperature, well wrapped, for about 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.
Recipe source: King Arthur Baking