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Classic buttermilk Irish soda bread

Classic buttermilk Irish soda bread
Los Angeles Times

One nice thing about not being Irish but being a baker is that I can take liberties with soda bread. Not that I don't respect tradition; I do. In fact, if I had it my way, soda bread would be ... Read more

Active work time: 40 minutes | Total preparation time: 1 hour 45 minutes | Serves 10 to 12
  • 3 cups unbleached flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten, optional
  • 1 1/4 to 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins or mixed raisins and currants, plumped in hot water 5 minutes

Step 1Combine unbleached flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon and caraway seeds. Cut butter into dry ingredients by hand or using paddle or hook attachment on mixer at slow speed.

Step 2Add eggs and buttermilk to form a soft dough. Stir in raisins. Turn out onto floured work surface and gently knead 8 times or so to firm up dough. Let rest 10 minutes.

Step 3Shape into an 8- or 9-inch round. Score top with a knife to make cross. Dust with white flour or sprinkle with bran or oatmeal. Place in 9-inch cast-iron pan and bake until top is brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and cool in pan on rack.

Note: Most authentic Irish soda breads are whole wheat, but combinations of half white and half whole wheat or white whole wheat still make for a good loaf. As with anything else, a larger proportion of white flour will give an airier and higher loaf. All whole wheat will give you a more rustic, nutty loaf. Both eggs and caraway seeds are optional here (for real traditionalists). I alternate including the caraway seeds but often omit the eggs. You will use more of the buttermilk if you omit the eggs. I like this with a wedge of sharp Cheddar or imported Cheshire or Lancastershire cheese and a couple of pickled onions for a makeshift plowman's platter.


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