Irish Soda Bread2010-03-17
It would not be St. Patrick’s Day without including a recipe for Irish soda bread. This bread is a treat for anyone that does not like the long process involved in yeast breads. There is no proofing or punching down and then rising involved. Similar to the Irish Stew, you just throw all the ingredients in a bowl, mix it, form it and then bake it. Maybe the Irish had something right here in cooking. Does it really have to be so difficult?
This is a moist, rich soda bread with a bit of zip from the orange zest. Once you have made it, you will never buy another dry soda bread from the store. Slices of this with butter was our dessert for lamb stew meal.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants
Set a rack to the middle position of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place a silpat mat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer blending for 1 minute. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
Beat one egg with a fork in a 2 cup measuring cup. Add the buttermilk and orange zest(see note) and whisk together in the cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Be careful to watch the mixer as the dough is heavy and wet and could bind the mixer. If this happens stop in and repeat until fully mixed.
Next add place the currants in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix until coated. This will aid in the currants mixing properly into the dough. Add the currents to the mixer and blend in at low speed. Again, this is a very wet dough so watch to avoid binding the mixer shaft.
Remove the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it just few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When done it should have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: You can use a microplane grater for the orange zest but I perfer and real zester. It provides long strands of zest that add a bit of color in each slice of the bread.
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