We are an Irish family and, as I have said before, a family that loves bread. So, of course it would not be right for this holiday to pass without some fresh baked soda bread piping hot out of the oven. Our favorite recipe is from Ina Garten and, although it is not traditional, it is really, really good! We like it so much that I make this recipe several times throughout the year. Even though I will spend an entire day to make artisan breads, and love doing so, there are times when we want a quick, delicious bread for a weeknight meal and this one does the trick.
Like all bread recipes this one starts with flour, 4 cups, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, salt and sugar. If you are watching your sugar intake you do not need to add any, or just downsize from the 4 tablespoons listed in the formula. Honestly, you don’t really need to add any if you do not wish too as there is plenty of flavor and sweetness from the orange zest and currants.
4 tablespoons of cold butter are incorporated, which again is not traditional, but does give the bread a scone like texture (if you add the sugar then you really get the scone/bread hybrid taste!)
Now it’s time for the wet ingredients which include the leavening activator in the form of buttermilk. The acid from this addition will activate the soda and, along with the heat of the oven hitting that cold butter, provide the rise in your bread.
Ina’s recipe calls for 1 cup of currants, but I have used cranberries or raisins in the past and both were great, especially the combination of orange zest and cranberries. Although here too I have made substitutions and used lemon zest when my home was devoid of oranges-also delicious!
The dough comes together nicely, although it is a bit sticky, but once you turn it out onto the floured surface and knead it a few times the bread becomes easier to work with. I used my lame to make fairly deep cuts on the surface before placing it in the oven at 375°F.
The bread is done if it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom surface, and it needs to cool on a rack for ~10 minutes.
Be patient, if you cut into it while it is still too hot it will be crumbly-remember that scone like quality? Best way to serve it is how ever you like it!
Do try this recipe! It is very easy and worth the short time it takes to pull it together!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
Next bread up for me is Black Russian Rye Bread!