Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not Just for St. Patty's Day

So last week was a crazy week and not in particularly great way - some last minute projects at work but thankfully I'm heading into calmer waters now. My intention was to blog about the merits of a Irish soda bread, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Though I'm a week late, I still think it's a great recipe that needs no occasion.

I found the recipe on Epicurious.com. Incidentally, they had a big article that talked about what makes Irish soda bread so special. What makes it special to me is that it's easy to make by hand and doesn't take 3 hours to bake (like it would in my bread machine). Not to mention, it's a lovely looking loaf, lightly browned and dusted with sugar.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
from Bon Appetit, February 2005

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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