Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Homemade Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is a super easy, quick bread to make. St. Patty's Day in my house is not complete without a corned beef and cabbage dinner and fresh loaf of Irish soda bread. Quick breads don’t require kneading or rising time and are ready to bake in 15-20 minutes. Traditional Irish soda bread is a brown table bread and only contains 4 ingredients (flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt). The American-Irish variety that is prepared for St. Patty’s Day around the U.S. is fancier and often contains sugar, egg, butter, dried fruit (currants or raisins) and caraway seeds.

I made some adjustments to the original recipe I was using, cutting the sugar in half and using a mixture of bread flour and whole wheat flour to improve its nutrition profile. Bread flour is typically not used in quick breads because of its high gluten content. I wanted to experiment with it in this recipe. The result was a much heartier texture than a traditional soda bread; I loved the result. Using all-purpose flour will give it a softer texture and crust. I omitted the dried fruit and caraway seeds out due to personal preferences. This made a very large loaf (about 16 large slices). It will go with our corned beef and cabbage for dinner tonight, but is also delicious in the morning for breakfast (with an egg or peanut butter).

Investing in good flour is crucial. I go for King Arthur flour because it is high quality and a Vermont company (love to support my local foods). It is non-GMO and unbleached and they sell organic varieties as well. I find the cost is worth it when you compare the results of baked goods to other brands of flour.

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 16 slices 1” slices

3 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup white sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces.
1 ¾ cup buttermilk*
1 egg, beaten
1 cup raisins (optional)
Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

*Buttermilk Substitute: add 1 ¼ Tbsp of white vinegar to skim or 1% milk and stir.

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2.  Mix the bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry cutter, until it resembles a course meal.
  4. Mix the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Add in small amounts to the flour mixture and stir well.
  5. Knead for 2 minutes on clean, floured surface (cutting board or counter). Form into a loaf and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  6. Cut a large “X” into the top of the bread with a serrated knife and bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Nutrition Facts: 1 slice without raisins (1/16th of loaf)
160 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 29 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein, 170 mg sodium

1 slice with raisins (1/16th of loaf)
200 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 36 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein, 170 mg sodium

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