Before yesterday I don’t think I’d ever actually eaten Irish soda bread. Being half Italian, a quarter Spanish, and a quarter mish-mash, this food was not exactly tradition in my house. But still on my kick of making Irish food for my Irish boy on a (questionably) Irish holiday, I thought – once again – why not! I had seen recipes before, all of which seemed to have a lot in common with my favorite scone recipe, so I figured it was worth a shot, and fairly confident it would turn out okay. My baking experiments hardly ever let me down.
So I turned to Google – put “Irish soda bread” into the search bar, and the first result that turned up was from FoodNetwork.com, an Ina Garten recipe, with over 150 reviews and 5 stars overall. Not too shabby. I like Ina, the way she cooks, and her philosophies on food, so I figured her recipe would be as good as any.
Warning: if you attempt this, the recipe says the dough will be very wet. This is a gross understatement. They should say that the dough will stick to your hands like wet cement. Also that if you own a dough scraper, you should have it out and ready BEFORE scraping the dough out of your mixing bowl. Also, if you happen to have a boyfriend sitting around while you bake (note: husband, wife, girlfriend, roommate, child will all work sufficiently), you may need them to sprinkle more flour on your dough so you don’t contaminate the whole container with your sticky fingers.
That being said – stick with it (no pun intended). This recipe turned out deliciously. Just the right amount of tang and sweetness, neither one overpowering the other. I would definitely make this again – although I would find my dough scraper next time.
Ina Garten’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe (from FoodNetwork.com)
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons 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 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet 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 you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.