Irish soda bread, also just called soda bread, is a quick bread featuring a leavener of baking soda. Though using baking soda in a recipe may not seem very exciting to us, it was exciting to the bakers in Ireland during the mid-1800s. At that time, yeast breadmaking was rare in Ireland because hard wheat flour production was limited. The introduction of baking soda allowed Irish bakers to make a kind of bread that worked with their soft flour and rose reliably, eliminating the need for yeast. Try making a loaf of this delicious bread for Saint Patrick’s Day by following the recipe below.
You will need:
• 4 cups all-purpose flour and extra for currants
• 1 ¾ cups buttermilk, cold and shaken
• ½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and diced into ½-inch pieces
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 1 cup dried currants
• 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon orange zest, grated
• 1 extra-large egg, beaten lightly
• Sheet pan
• Parchment paper
• Electric mixer with paddle attachment
• Serrated knife
• Measuring cup
• Baking rack
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line the sheet pan with the parchment paper.
Step 2: In the electric mixer bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, sugar, and flour. Add butter, mixing it with the paddle attachment on low speed until it has mixed into the dry ingredients.
Step 3: Add the orange zest, egg, and buttermilk to the measuring cup. Beat these ingredients lightly with the fork. Set the mixer to low speed and slowly add this buttermilk mixture to your butter and flour mixture.
Step 4: Combine currents and 1 tablespoon flour. Mix these into the dough, which will be very wet.
Step 5: Turn the dough onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough several times, forming a rounded loaf. Place this loaf into the sheet pan and use the serrated knife to lightly cut an X in the top of the dough.
Step 6: Bake approximately 45 to 55 minutes or when a cake tester removes cleanly. Tapping the loaf should produce a hollow sound.
Step 7: Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on the baking rack. This bread can be served either when warm or at room temperature.