Friday, February 27, 2009

From the bread book - Irish Soda Bread

This bread is quick to make, satisfying, and surprisingly tasty. Ours came out tasting like a slightly chewy or gritty whole wheat biscuit. The bread uses considerably less butter than traditional biscuits, and was a great way to use up (some of) the past-date milk we have in our refrigerator that otherwise might have been thrown out. There is a variation on this recipe that uses all white flour, but in my opinion it is is the distinct wheat flavor that makes this bread so appealing.

The recipe is courtesy of the bread book my college roommate bought me for my birthday one year. There are about 100 distinct bread recipes in the book, only 14 of which I have tried so far. I have plans to someday have made all the breads in the book, but for now I am content to try a new one every week or month or so.

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups a/p flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (hard red wheat)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
3 Tbs butter
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Mix the dry ingredients through the cream of tartar together. Cut in the butter, then stir in the sugar. Pour in sufficient buttermilk to form a soft dough. Do not over-mix. Turn out onto a greased baking sheet and shape into a circle, about 1/2" thick. Using a knife, make a deep cut into the dough (not all the way through!) to make two semicircles. Then make a deep cut the other way to form quarters. (I suppose you could theoretically pre-cut the dough into as many slices as you want, but the cross cut is traditional) Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.

You can also divide the dough into 2 rounds and bake them for 25-30 minutes (this is what we did).

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