Monday, August 6, 2012

Lemon Cranberry Irish Soda Bread with Honey Butter

I am a firm believer that Irish Soda Bread is a year-round food. Lots of people only make it around St. Patrick's Day, but it is one of my dad's favorite treats, so it gets baked during all four seasons in my house. The bread TWD made a while ago is a traditional one, and is simple to put together; however, it isn't very sweet at all. My family prefers the American-ized version, which is sweet and more cake-like. I have a go-to recipe, which is great, but I was sick of the same raisins and plain flavor. I found this recipe, which has lemon and cranberry, and decided to give it a try.
I liked it a lot. This is even more cake-like than the other (really not like a bread), and quite sweet, but is perfect for a snack or light breakfast. The tart cranberries and lemon go together so well and the flavor combination is one of my favorites. It is served with a sweet honey butter that is so easy to whip up, and is the perfect spread for this bread/cake- although if you want to skip it, the bread tastes great on its own. The best part of this recipe? It was approved by my dad, who is quite the soda bread connoisseur. Enjoy! <3
Lemon Cranberry Irish Soda Bread with Honey Butter
(ever-so-slightly adapted from Eat and Relish)

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar, + extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup hot water
juice and zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the dried cranberries, hot water, and juice from the lemon into a small bowl, and let the berries soften. Cut a piece of parchment to fit into a 8″ round cake pan, and place inside. Lightly butter the parchment.
Whisk the flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in alarge bowl to blend. Add the butter, and using your fingertips rub the butter into the dry ingredients until a coarse meal forms. It will be very dry.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk and the lemon zest. Gradually the stir dry ingredients into the milk with a spatula to blend until they are just combined (do not overmix – mix only until the ingredients just come together, otherwise your bread will be tough). Once combined, drain the cranberries and discard the liquid. Squeeze them to remove any excess moisture, and add them to the dough. Carefully and gently fold them in.
Transfer dough to the prepared pan and smooth out as much as possible with your hands (you may want to flour them). Flatten slightly (dough will not come to the edges of pan), and brush the top with the milk. Sprinkle the bread with the remaining sugar.
Bake the bread until it is light golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, just about 40 minutes — start checking it around 30 minutes to avoid overcooking. Cool the bread in pan 10 minutes, then gently transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with honey butter (recipe below).

Honey Butter

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons honey

Beat butter briefly until it is creamy. Beat in the honey. Refrigerate so that it is no longer liquidy (it can get liquidy as you are beating it), but let it soften slightly before serving.

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