March 17, 2010

Erin Go Bragh

Sam and I are off to Ireland for 6 days tonight (yes, we’ll be flying with Guinness in hand) and I thought it only fitting to leave you with a quintessential Irish blog post, even if it is contemporarily conceived! I’ll be back next Wednesday with tall tales and gorgeous photos to share, but in the meantime, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
It’s probably not a real memory, but I just seem to always think of my grandmother when I think of Irish Soda Bread.  I don’t even know if she made Irish Soda Bread, and I certainly don’t remember making it with her, but I somehow do remember her soda bread…and I don’t remember it fondly.  Now, my grandmother was a wonderful cook and could have baked a perfect pie in her sleep, so I can only assume that I was too young to appreciate it.  Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to love the humble soda bread, and now really wish I could have learned to bake hers, real or imaginary.  This soda bread is a combination of a few recipes and is not at all traditional.  I chose not to use caraway seeds or currants, and instead borrowed an element from Ina’s Soda Bread recipe, orange zest, which makes this dense bread bright and fresh.  It’s wonderful toasted and paired with a nice cup of Irish Breakfast, but however you choose to celebrate the Irish today, make sure to enjoy every bite, sip, and song! 

Luck o’ the Irish Soda Bread
Makes one large round loaf

4 c. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and diced
1 egg
1 ¾ c. buttermilk , shaken
2 tsp. orange zest
1 c. raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking pan.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, work the butter in to the flour mixture until is resembles coarse meal.  In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and zest.  Create a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined the fold in the raisins.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough just long enough to form a rough, round loaf. Transfer to the greased pan and with a knife, score an “X” on top of the loaf.  Bake for 50 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  The loaf should sound hollow when you tap the bottom of it.

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