Irish Soda Bread

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Since time immemorial, my family has been baking soda bread every March 17th. Over the years who baked it for St. Patrick's Day changed hands and now I've been given the privilege to bake my own. The recipe stems from tradition but has evolved to be something much more delightful than the dry, coarse, usually stale loaf that it is often thought as. This recipe uses plenty of butter, buttermilk and caraway to impart amazing texture, standing power and that good old fashioned flavor.

The method used for this recipe is exceedingly easy and will give even the most novice of bakers a chance for great success. The key to this bread's flaky and buttery texture lies in cold ingredients. Much like when baking biscuits, the cold ingredients lend to good flake and a better final product.

480-500g all purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
6 tbs butter
1 egg
1 cup golden raisins
1 tbs caraway seeds
14 oz buttermilk

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda until combined. Dice the cold butter into pieces and work it into the flour mixture until the texture resembles gravel. Do your best to avoid melting the butter by using a spatula to mix as much as possible. Add the raisins and caraway seeds. In a separate container, beat the egg into the buttermilk then combine with the flour mixture. Mix the dough so it just barely comes together, no kneeding is required but you will want to shape the dough in to a rough ball.

Transfer the dough to a buttered cast iron pan or baking dish and score the top deeply with an "X" to ensure even cooking. Bake at 450F for 20-35 minutes, it will be done when it is golden brown on top and a skewer comes out just dry from the thickets part.