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Best Irish Soda Bread

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Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

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Soda bread is associated with Irish cooking, and it is often served with a cup of tea. This classic bread is leavened with baking soda, hence the name. Before it is baked, a cross is cut in the top of the dough. Tradition has it that this cross was meant to keep the Devil away.

Irish soda bread, similar in texture to a biscuit, makes an inviting breakfast when spread with jam or marmalade. It also goes nicely with a stew or a main-dish soup. The bread is best when eaten crusty and warm from the oven.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Makes 1 loaf (12 slices)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup brandy or orange juice
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preparation:

1. Combine the raisins and the liqueur or juice in a small bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to pump.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, 1 cup of the oats, the baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup buttermilk, honey, and butter until well blended. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Stir in the raisins.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 to 6 times, then shape it into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet and pat into an 8-inch round. Brush top of loaf with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with remaining oats. With a sharp knife, slash the top of the dough with an X about 1/2-inch deep.
4. Bake until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer loaf to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

• Soda breads were traditionally baked over open fires on a baking stone or suspended in a cast-iron pot or clay oven. If you own a pizza baking stone, this soda bread will bake nicely on it. Be sure to preheat the stone in the oven before using.
• After baking and cooling the Irish soda bread, it can stored tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to two months. To freeze the bread, first wrap it in plastic, then in aluminum foil. Thaw at room temperature, unwrap and rewarm in a 300 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
• Instead of adding raisins to the soda bread, you can substitute 1 cup of dried cherries soaked in hot water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain and use in place of the raisins in the recipe.
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