I love this time of the year. The days are getting longer, spring is just around the corner and it’s time to make Irish Soda Bread. I love, love, love this bread. Simple, rustic and every bite is a little reminder of my great-grandparents who came over here from Ireland to start a new life here in America. The simplicity of this bread makes it convenient to have on a regular basis but I usually keep it for St. Patrick’s day and maybe a couple more times throughout the year because I cannot stop eating it. Did I say that I love this bread?
Right before you put the loaf into the oven, you need to cut a cross in the top of the bread. It has been said that by cutting the cross you ward off the devil, or you let the fairies out, or you are blessing the bread. Oh, legend and symbolism. But I think the real reason is to let thickest part of the bread expand as it rises. I admit, when I cut the bread I did tell the pups, Susie & Billy, that I was letting the fairies out. What? It’s a cute story.
I always make this bread on a pizza stone. I find the crust turns out perfect every time. I love the contrast between the crustiness and the slightly sweet, moist interior. I also love being able to whip several loaves in one day because it’s so easy to make. After I have my loaves cooled, I make my rounds to deliver soda bread to my neighbors and co-workers. When I’m carrying one of these loaves, my neighbors and friends are very happy to see this Irish-American gal.
Nothing is better on a chilly March day than a slice of Soda bread slathered with some Kerrygold butter. And now it’s time to share my family’s recipe.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat over 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients and stir to mix well.
Add the butter and combine until the butter is well blended into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the raisins.
In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together then mix into the dough mixture with a spatula.
Turn the dough on on a floured work surface and fold it over (do not knead) several times, shaping into a round loaf. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet covered with parchment and cut a cross in the top.
Bake 15 minutes on 400 degrees. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15-20 minutes longer, until browned slightly and a toothpick poked into center of loaf emerges clean.
Cool the soda bread on a rack then serve.