Monday, March 17, 2008

Just a Little Irish

I usually avoid my local Irish pub on St. Patrick's Day (amateur night, and all that) and I totally forgot to wear green today. But I did celebrate in my own way, baking two loaves of Irish Soda Bread.

My recipe comes from Kathleen's Bake Shop Cookbook, and calls for the usual quick bread ingredients, a touch of sugar, plus raisins, caraway seeds and buttermilk. Traditionalists will say it's not really Irish Soda Bread--apparently the raisins make it Spotted Dog or Railway Cake. Well, whatever it is, it's very easy and very tasty. I enjoyed some last night for dinner, and again this morning, toasted, with a little butter. It's crumbly, a little scone-like, slightly sweet and with a little bite from the caraway. I'll hit Molly's another night, and wear green tomorrow. Today, I'm perfectly happy with soda bread.--S

Irish Soda Bread

4 c all-purpose flour
2 T granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 c butter
1 c raisins
3 T caraway seeds
2 c buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.
2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add raisins and caraway seeds and toss lightly. Add buttermilk and toss mixture with a fork until all dry ingredients are moistened. Dough will be very soft.
3. Form dough into a ball and lightly knead on a floured board for about 30 seconds or until dough is smooth. Divide dough into two equal portions and shape into balls. Place them on the cookie sheet, and with a sharp knife, cut an X on top of each loaf about 1/4-in. deep.
4. Bake for 50 minutes, or until crusty and golden.

Yield: 2 loaves.

Recipe courtesy of Kathleen's Bake Shop Cookbook

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