Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Irish Soda Bread: BWJ

Usually St. Patrick's Day comes and goes at our house and we take no notice of it.  I don't prepare corned beef and cabbage at our house, nor do we consume any green beer on that day.  We might have a leprechaun or two running around here, though, who knows.  However, I've always been curious what Irish Soda Bread tasted like, since I'd never had any before.  I always say I'm going to make some each year when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, but somehow shamrock sugar cookies iced bright green with sprinkles, always push their way to the forefront of my mind and end up being made while the soda bread gets forgotten yet again.

This year was different though.  No shamrock sugar cookies emerged, but a big, plump, currant and raisin studded loaf of Irish Soda Bread came out of my kitchen last night.  Irish Soda Bread was chosen by the Baking with Julia group as the second recipe to complete for March.  Many thanks go to our hosts for this recipe, who are: Carla of Chocolate Moosey and Cathleen of My Culinary Mission.  I've peeked at their blog posts already, and they made some super looking soda bread, so be sure and go check out their posts as well!

I've seen many, many recipes for Irish Soda Bread around, and the most common variation or component I see to them all is the addition of some sort of dried fruit, usually, raisins or currants, so that's what I added to mine.  I had some pretty dried up currants that needed using and since there wasn't quite enough for a half cup, I also added some raisins.  The recipe stated that you could add 1 cup of currants or raisins, but I thought a half cup seemed like plenty.  I warmed up a small bowl of orange juice in my microwave and dumped in my currants & raisins, to plump up for 15 minutes, while I mixed up the rest of the ingredients for the dough.  The recipe is quite simple, its just flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.  A lot of the recipes I've seen include at least some amount of whole wheat flour, so I subbed 2 cups of King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour, for 2 cups of the all-purpose flour.

After stirring vigorously to bring all the dough ingredients together, I dumped in my plumped up dried fruit (drained of the OJ), and worked them into the dough in the bowl with my hands (it was kinda messy),
My dough was quite wet when I went to dump it onto my lightly floured mat, so I think next time, I'll hold back on some of the buttermilk.  I ended up using quite a bit of extra flour to get my dough kneaded.  Actually, I don't know if you could call what I did 'kneading'.  The dough was so wet I couldn't handle it, so I just used my dough scraper to fold it over onto itself numerous times, before I clumsily transferred the whole wet mass to my parchment paper lined, baking sheet.

I floured my hands and tried to shape it into a decent looking rounded disk, but the dough kept sticking to my fingers.  Aaaargh!!  I tried wetting my knife to slice my 'X' into the top, center of the dough, but it still stuck and pulled at the dough, so my 'X' was pretty sloppy looking.  Oh, well.

Here's the finished loaf out of the oven,  Aaaaah, I wish you could've smelled it, but then if you baked your own you know what it smelled like.  I kept smelling butter as it baked, but I think it was just that 'bread baking smell' that usually fills the house, that I have missed the past several weeks, since I've not been able to bake much.
It was sliced while still warm, as there was no way I was waiting until it was completely cool to dig in,
Hubby had butter on most of his slices, but as it was suggested that Irish Soda Bread goes well with spreads and tea,  I sat down for a breather after cleaning up half of the dishes, and enjoyed a large slice smeared generously with my leftover Prune Lekvar (sweet prune butter) that we made for our Rugelach recipe from February.  The lekvar was PERFECT on this bread!!!

This bread will definitely make an appearance again next year at our house at this same time, and I think I'll even have to dig up a recipe for a nice Irish stew to go with it:)
If you like what you see and you'd like to try this recipe for yourself, you can find the recipe at Cathleen's blog or Carla's blog today or if you'd like to own a copy of the Baking With Julia cookbook for your own, then perhaps go here.  Also, you can check out the posts of a whole host of bakers out there, who turned out some spectacular loaves as well this past week.


  1. I really enjoyed this bread, especially toasted!
    Your loaf looks wonderful.

  2. Your Bread looks Lovely ... !!! Great job !!!! I never thought baking a bread can get that easy !!!

  3. I had mine with prune lekvar as well and really enjoyed it!

  4. I'm sorry it gave you problems but it looks fantastic!

  5. I'll take a nice soda bread over cookies any day! We had ours with leftover apricot lekvar. They chose the order of the recipes well this month.

  6. Most lovely loaf, Mel! I've never been a huge SB fan, but after seeing your loaf and Abby's and Heidi's a week or so ago, I might have to try again! :)

  7. Whew, glad the bread was able to push it's way ahead of the cookies :-)