Irish Soda Bread isn't just for the Irish. In fact, Native Americans were making soda bread before the European settlers arrived. It became known as Irish Soda Bread because it was considered a poor man's bread; it was the easiest and least expensive bread to put on the table during the great potato famine in Ireland. It has become a common tradition to buy or make soda bread for St. Patrick's Day.
Soda bread is a quick bread that uses baking soda as a leavening agent as opposed to the long-rising yeast breads. If you were to make true Irish Soda Bread, it would simply include flour, salt, sour milk (or buttermilk), and baking soda. That's it. When you add eggs, sugar, raisins, or anything else, it's no longer traditional Irish Soda Bread, but it's a good upgrade, and that's the way I like it. Here are some tips for making Irish Soda Bread:
Flour - Use an all-purpose or bread flour. Sift the dry ingredients together to make them light and airy.
Buttermilk - Take it out of the refrigerator ahead of time and let it reach room temperature.
Don't Overmix - Kneading for too long will make the bread tough and chewy.
"Irish" Soda Bread1/2 cup white or brown sugar
4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cupd raisins
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 375 F (175C).Grease a 9 inch round cast iron skillet (or 9 inch round cake pan). Sift together flour (reserving 1 tablespoon), baking powder, baking soda, salt. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients with the sugar and raisins. In a small bowl, blend eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir the liquid mixture into the flour mixture just until the flour is moistened.
Knead dough slightly in the bowl, about 10 to 12 strokes. Dough will be sticky.
Place the dough in the prepared skillet or pan and pat down.
Cut 3/4 inch deep criss-cross slits in the top of the bread. Dust with reserved flour.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. (Elevation and humidity can effect the baking time. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.)
Let cool. Slice loaf in half and then make cross-cuts about an inch wide.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 ounces buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 F. Follow mixing directions above. Cover the pan with another pan; bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes.
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