March 5, 2017

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Orange Zest

Have you ever had Irish Soda Bread?  I first tried it a few years ago and have been a fan ever since.  It's super easy to make and has great flavor.  You start off by combining all the dry ingredients and cutting in a few Tablespoons of butter and then stir in the buttermilk until a dough forms.  Then, you dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a round loaf, bake it in a cast iron skillet, brush with melted butter and that's it.  See super easy.

It totally reminds me of biscuits in loaf form and even though it has way less butter than biscuits, it has a great buttery flavor.  The crust is crisp and the center is very soft.  For this version, I also added some raisins and orange zest.  Both the raisins and orange zest give it a burst of sweet flavor.  You can absolutely leave both out though and still have an amazing bread.  Serve it plain, with butter or smothered in jam.  Give it a try, I think you'll love it.    
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Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Orange Zest
(Printable Recipe)
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, cold
   plus 1 Tbl. melted butter for brushing loaf
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
grated zest of 1 orange, opt.
3/4 c. raisins, opt.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Cut 2 Tablespoons of cold butter into chunks and add to the flour mixture.  Using your clean hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it is completely incorporated.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk that has been mixed with the orange zest.  Use a fork to work the ingredients together.  Mix in the raisins.  Add up to another 1/4 cup of buttermilk, adding 1 Tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms.  

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat together to form a 6'' round.  Place dough into an 8'' inch (or larger) cast-iron skillet.  If you don't have a cast-iron skillet you can use a baking sheet, but the outside won't get as crispy.  Use a sharp knife and cut an "x" into the top of the loaf, about 5-inches long and 3/4-inch deep.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with 1 Tablespoon of melted butter.  Cool for a few minutes, slice and serve.  Best if eaten on the day it is made.        

adapted from: Cooks Illustrated


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