If you crave a satisfying side dish for savoury soups and stews, consider classic Irish soda bread. Beloved for its heartiness and simplicity, when topped with a few seeds or oatmeal this wonderful accompaniment to almost any meal isn’t only for St. Patrick’s Day.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 80 minutes
Makes: one loaf
- 1 kg (4 c.) all-purpose flour
- 45 ml (3 tbsp.) sugar
- 15 ml (1 tbsp.) baking powder
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) salt
- 3 g (3/4 tsp.) baking soda
- 90 ml (6 tbsp.) cold butter or margarine
- 350 g (1 1/2 c.) currants or raisins
- 15 ml (1 tbsp.) caraway seeds
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 375 (1 1/2 c.) low-fat buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (350°F). Lightly grease a 23-centimetre (nine-inch) round baking pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the currants (or raisins) and caraway seeds.
- Set aside 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of the beaten egg. In a medium bowl combine the buttermilk and remaining eggs and stir until they are well blended. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well and stir just until the flour is moistened and a sticky dough forms.
- Flour a work surface well. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and, using well-floured hands, knead the dough about 10 times. Shape the dough into a round loaf.
- Place the loaf in the prepared baking pan. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross six millimetres (1/4 inch) deep in the top centre of the loaf. Brush the loaf with the reserved egg.
- Bake at 190°C (350°F) until a toothpick inserted near the centre of the loaf comes out clean, about one hour and 20 minutes. If the loaf top browns too quickly, tent loosely with foil for the final 20 minutes of baking time.
- Transfer the baked loaf to a wire rack and cool it while still in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Remove the loaf from the pan and place it on the rack to cool completely.
Quick tip if you’re out of buttermilk
If a recipe calls for 250 millilitres (one cup) buttermilk and you don’t have any on hand, pour 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) white vinegar or lemon juice in a 15 millilitre (one cup) measure and add enough regular milk to make 250 millilitres (one cup).
- You could also simply substitute 15 millilitres (one cup) of plain yogurt.