I wish Irish Soda Bread would appear more than once a year during St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of all things Ireland. Although we are surrounded by baked goods, there is something quite special about the Irish Soda Bread Recipe. This rich and handsome bread is made with bread flour, yeast, butter, buttermilk and it’s studded with raisins.
Every culture has its own bread variation, from Babakas from Eastern Europe, Croissants and Kugelholf in France, Colomba Pasquale in Italy, Cheese Bread in Brazil and many more.
Around the early 2000’s, I was an “stagiere” at Payard Patisserie by acclaimed pastry chef Francoise Payard, when the pastry shop was in its full glory in the Upper East Side location. Each day we used to roll croissants in the morning hours and then we’d bake huge batches of dough in the afternoon. Irish Soda Bread was prepared mostly for St.Patrick’s day and Eastern Holiday.
You’d think that I’d be done baking breads by now, but it turns out, I still love to bake at home, especially interesting breads such as this one. I can’t resist a warm oven filling the house with the most wonderful bread aromas. For this Irish Soda Bread, I turned to expert John Barricelli of Sono Baking Company, a lovely bakery in Connecticut.
Bread baking requires patience for sure. Let the yeast do its work and don’t try to rush it. I’m sure you’ll find plenty to do while the dough is resting at various stages. You’ll be rewarded with a delicious and gorgeous bread to enjoy. It also makes a beautiful food gift by the way.
With my recent trip to Belém do Pará, in Brazil, I came back with lots of Cupuacú Jams in the luggage. Turns out, it goes perfectly with Irish Soda Bread. But any jam in the likes of apricots or orange will be nice here! Hope you’ll enjoy this recipe!
Recipe adapted from Sono Baking Company cookbook
Irish Soda Bread
Makes one loaf
6 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting the loaves
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 cups buttermilk
1 ½ cups raisins
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and yeast. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk, and using your hands, mix until the dough just comes together, mix in the raisins. Using a plastic bowl scraper, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and supple, 3 to 4 minutes. Shape into a round loaf.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm location (at least 70˚F) until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down to deflate it, reshape it into a round loaf, and let it rest again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. With a bench scraper, divide it into two pieces, and shape them into two round loaves.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Dust the top of each loaf with flour, and with a bench scraper, form an X through the center of the bread, pressing down deeply in both directions with the scraper, almost cutting through the loaf. Place the loaves on a lightly floured baking sheet.
Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the crust is deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Serve it with butter and jam of your preference!
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