It turns out that Irish Soda Bread is not the dry, lifeless loaf I remember from my youth. It’s moist, just a bit crumbly and totally amazing warm out of the oven with a bit of jam — kind of like a big biscuit or scone, but a lot easier to make. In fact I stood back and let Mr. 5 year old Luca make the entire thing from start to finish, jumping in only to read the recipe to him and provide a little explanation here and there. He wanted to let you know that the best part of the recipe is definitely using a knife to make an ‘x’ on the top of the bread before putting it in the oven. Just an hour after gathering our ingredients we were scarfing down our amazing homemade snack… cutting big wedges and making sure not to skimp on Grandpa’s apricot jam. That poor little loaf didn’t stand a chance, it was gone in a flash.
Irish Soda Bread
(makes one mini, 6″ loaf, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients:
- 7.5 oz all purpose flour (1 2/3 cup)
- 2 oz. cake flour (1/2 cup)
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 TBL sugar
2. Mix in 1 TBL of butter with your fingers. Make sure to get the butter evenly distributed, the mix with be crumbly.
3. Make a well (Luca would call it a volcano) and add 3/4 cup buttermilk into the center. Mix with your hands until dough forms. Knead on a lightly floured surface just until dough comes together. The dough will be sticky but it should form a ball. [Sprinkle with more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle, or with a small about of buttermilk if the dough is too dry.]. Knead in a handful of raisins or other dried fruit if you like.
4. Place in a 6″ cast iron pan and use a knife to slash a big “x” on top of the bread. Although the cast iron makes the best crust, you can also make a free form loaf and bake on a baking sheet. Brush the bread with a little melted butter and bake 40-45 minutes, until golden on top.