Irish Soda Bread, version 1, 2 and 2.5

(Some of the pictures are missing but this is the time of year for the Irish Soda bread recipe. Here is the recipe I used last year…and the year before.. So rather than reinvent the wheel, and because I dont have time to start from scratch, what with brownies in the oven and 8 loaves of bread cooling on the table, here is the re-run:)

“She’s sharp as a marble!”

“He’s tick-as-a-brick”

These are a few of the more polite sayings I picked up from an Irish gal I used to work with before the flood. She was a hoot, and so different, like a space alien to me.  She definitely took me outside my box. I wonder if she even had a box.

But thats as close to the Irish I have ever gotten. I love their breads though. So if you are in the mood to try some Irish Soda bread, give this a go…

There is one thing my family can all agree on and that’s our love for Irish Soda Bread. The plain kind, craggy, warm, creamy on the inside with a hint of sweet.

You can serve this up with a corned beef, potato and cabbage dinner (also called a New England dinner), or a stew or pot roast or shepherds pie. Leftovers are great warmed up in the morning and slathered with butter.

Below is that recipe. I will tell you about the other 2 ways to modify it at the end.

Today is the Thursday before the Sunday of St. Patrick’s day. This means I step into high gear, stocking up on buttermilk, getting the candied orange peel ready and stoking up the stove. I expect to be making 8-10 loaves in the next couple of days. Some for the Friday night soup kitchen night at church, some for friends and at least 1 for us. But this is a quick bread, with no raising involved, no proofing. Just mix and bake.

It calls for whole wheat and white all purpose flours. I also put in some ground oats. I have never seen an Irish soda bread recipe with oats, but first off, I love the flavor and texture some oats contribute and secondly, oats are very Irish, aren’t they? Scottish too.

For the wheat flour I have used regular whole wheat, white whole wheat and even whole wheat pastry flour, which is whole wheat ground from a softer lower protein winter wheat grown in the more moderately warmer southern states. It has lower protein which means less gluten. For cookies, biscuits, scones and so forth, you do not need a high gluten content. So whole wheat pastry flour works. Okay, I just erased a whole paragraph on flours. I realize that I will have to dedicate a post just to flours, or I will go on like this all day.

If you do not have a food processor, you can cut the butter in with a pastry cutter. I lost my favorite one and keep forgetting to buy a new one, so I am using the food processor.

I have a new food processor I am not really used to yet. I did not think there would be very much difference between them, but there is. This one is a Kitchen-aid and it seems to miss the outside edges. So pulsing is not as effective as just high speed for a bit. If I wanted it ground finer, I would get out my mini grinder that was designed for coffee grounds but I use for grains. It turns them virtually into dust! But I wanted some texture to the breads this time.

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This looks like it has reached its max. Can it fit in some butter too?

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Here I cut up the butter and added it. The dry ingredients came out sandy looking, just right, with a few bigger pieces of butter. Then I dumped it into a large bowl, added some of the buttermilk and mixed it together with my danish whisk. I love that old whisk! It is the smaller of the two I have. On the right, the dough is mixed, but a little wet looking. I added some fingertips full of flour, then added more while kneading. (Not that you knead much. Kneading is usually to develop gluten, which you do not need here. It is just to help hold the dough together.) It still spread more than I would have liked, indicating it could have used even more flour, or less liquid. But it will still taste scrumptious.

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I used to make one large loaf, but every time, the outside would get dark brown and the center would still be doughy. I ended up cutting out the middle like a huge donut. So two smaller ones cooked up better. My next batch of deluxe ones I will put in cake pans to see if they will spread less and rise higher, such as 7″ cake pans. I only have 8″ and 4″ so I will be using pie tins today, set on a baking sheet. I have even baked them in high sided, small La Creuset pots which worked as well. So if you want it to rise higher, put into something that will contain the spreading. Or how about in little souffle dishes? They would bake much quicker. Whatever you bake it in, check the browning, check the temperature if you can, about 200 degrees, or stick a toothpick in to check for doneness.

Ahh, the house smells so good. I wonder if anyone will notice a missing slice?

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Yes, I think someone might notice.

As for the recipe below, I have yet to figure out how to make it stop underlining the ingredients. Hopefully I will find time to mess around with it and eliminate that aspect. I dont like the different color font either.

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You can see the raisins and flecks of orange from the candied peel.

Irish Soda Bread

  • Yield: 2 rounds (12-16 Servings)
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 30-40 mins
  • Ready In: 50 mins

A cross between a large biscuit and a scone. Craigy, round and cut into wedges like a pie. This has 3 options. Regular, with raisins or the deluxe version with raisins soaked in rum and candied orange peel.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Or grease 2 8″ cake pans.
  2. This is easier if you have a food processor. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
  3. Put most of the dry ingredient mix in the food processor. (Or all if it will fit.) Cut the cube of butter into about 8 pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse in the processor a few times. Put back in the bowl.
  4. Now if you are going to add raisins, this is the time you would add them.
  5. Add most of the buttermilk, stirring with a fork until mixed in. Add more buttermilk about 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough holds together. Not too sticky, not too dry.
  6. On a floured board or counter, pull the dough out and gently knead 3 or 4 times until it holds together. Cut into 2 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and place either on parchment baking sheet or one in each cake pan.
  7. Cut a big X into the top of each loaf, about 1/2″ deep. Dust top flour, oats or bran. Put in oven and bake until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. Test with a straw or thin kabob stick. Or an instant read thermometer should read about 200 degrees.
  8. Version 1 is plain. Version 2 is to add the 1 cup of raisins.
  9. Now version 2.5 is adding 1/2 cup diced candied orange peel. Leave out the white sugar and just use the brown. Soak the raisins in 1/4 cup Meyer Rum. Add this to the dry ingredients right before the buttermilk.
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