Friday, January 29, 2010

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Irish Soda Bread

Many moons ago in another lifetime Alex and I went to Stephanie's On Newbury in Boston. It was the first time either of us had had Irish Soda Bread. We were instantly hooked and Stephanie's must have known how good their bread was because they gave you the recipe for it. At some point I lost the recipe and then at some later point I forgot about this amazing bread.

Flipping through one of my cookbooks I found a recipe for Irish Soda Bread and promptly made it. I even added the raisins because I remember the bread at Stephanie's having raisins. I made rolls (bake time is about 20 minutes) instead of a loaf because I couldn't wait to taste this bread. While the bread was warm it was exactly how I remembered it to be. Once it cooled it didn't taste the same to me and the raisins had a more pronounced taste that I didn't like. Alex later lectured me on how cruel of a person I was because I left a plate full of perfectly good raisins. If you make this, I recommend eating them fresh out of the oven slathered in butter instead of letting them come to room temperature.

Irish Soda Bread
Source: Carole Bloom's The Essential Baker
Yields one 8-inch round loaf

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick liner.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, sugar, caraway seeds (if using), baking soda, and salt. Pulse a few times to blend.

Add the raisins to the flour mixture and pulse a few times to mix.

With the food processor running, pour the buttermilk through the feed tube and process until the dough forms itself into a ball, about 30 seconds.

Dust a large piece of waxed or parchment paper with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough briefly and form it into an 8-inch round, about 1/2 inch thick. Use a knife to cut a shallow X in the top of the round.

Transfer the soda bread to the lined baking sheet.

Bake for 35 minutes, until golden and set. If a cake tester is inserted in the center, it will come out clean.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

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