Thursday, April 22, 2010

Post #101!!!! The Best Irish Soda Bread


This is post #101! Just for that, let's put in 101 exclamation points: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay.
Now, last week I asked you what you wanted me to put up as my 100th post. But, I didn't have time and that ended up being yesterday's TWD. So it's my 101th post. Deal with it.
Everyone who voted decided on me posting my best recipe for Irish Soda Bread. So that's what's happening here today.
If the words "Irish Soda Bread" makes you think of thinly sliced bread that tastes like fennel, you're right. That is a type of Irish Soda Bread. But not my type. This type has a hard crust, but is almost like a cake on the inside. It is crumbly but moist, and quite sweet (but definitely not overly so). It's perfect as breakfast, a snack, or as dessert (once it gets stale, it's great toasted with butter). Every time there is a special occasion, it is requested. So basically what I'm saying is that you HAVE to make this bread. Now. Pleeeeeeeeeease? You won't regret it. So here's the recipe (please note that this is an extreme risk for me, because once the lovers of this bread see how easy it is to make, it will never be requested again).

Irish Soda Bread (from The Spatulatta Cookbook)
(makes 2 loaves of soda bread)

5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 (yes, I said 5) teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten slightly
1 1/4 cups black raisins
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 cups regular or low-fat cultured buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Stir together the flour, salt, soda, and baking powder in the bowl.
3. Unwrap the butter and set aside the wrapper, which you'll use to grease the cookie sheet. Stir the butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly.
4. Add the eggs, raisins, and sugar. Stir well, then use your clean hands and fists to scoop the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and gently push them into the dough.
5. With another person, add the buttermilk, a little at a time, until the dough is sticky. One person stirs while the other slowly pours the buttermilk.
6. Sprinkle flour on the counter or flat surface (and your hands and wrists - just trust me), remove the dough and shape into rounds.
7. Knead the dough ten times. Fold and press, then turn the dough. Repeat ten times. Kneading gives the bread its good texture.
8. Cut the dough in half and shape it into 2 rounds.
9. Rub the cookie sheet all over with the buttered side of the wrapper.
10. When your loaves are on the sheet, use a floured butter knife to cut into, but not all the way through, the tops of the bread, in an "X" shape. This is called scoring.
11. Bake the bread for 45 to 60 minutes until the bread is a nice nutty brown.

Enjoy!!!