Granted, this is not sandwich bread, and it turns out pretty crumbly and fragile. It does, however, taste amazing. It goes really well with soups, salads, and what else - corned beef and cabbage! I have heard of Irish soda bread many times before, but I never really knew what type of bread it was, what texture it had, or how it would taste. I saw a recipe in Martha Stewart (good ol' Martha Steward, prison time notwithstanding...) that looked pretty easy, so I decided to conduct an experiment in conjunction with our monthly book club/international cuisine dinner party. This being March, I suggested we do an Irish dinner - corned beef and cabbage, mashed potatoes, salad, Irish soda bread, and Irish cream ice cream for dessert. I volunteered to make the bread and the dessert, knowing that the bread may be a disaster at the very last minute and I may have to substitute some other bread to go with our dinner, but it was worth a shot. Little did I know that there would only be 2 pieces left by the time everone left for the night!
I declared the bread a success, which in my house means the recipe goes into my book of personal recipes. I had leftover Irish butter (swoon!), so I had to make another loaf today to eat for lunch... and dinner... and share tomorrow with coworkers.
The leavening agent in this recipe is mainly baking soda (hence the name of the bread), but it also contains baking powder and soured milk. which help it rise.
Irish Soda Bread
from Martha Stewart Living, March 2009
Makes 1 loaf
1 1/3 c. whole milk
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. coarse salt (I substituted 2 tsp. table salt)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tb. cold unsalted butter, diced
1 c. unprocessed wheat bran
1/4 c. caraway seeds (I omitted this)
1 c. raisins
Irish butter, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350*. Prepare a baking sheet (line with parchment or spray with Pam). Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl and let set. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in butter.
2. Stir in wheat bran, caraway seeds (if using), and raisins. Stir in milk & vinegar until dough starts to form a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a round (don't knead). Transfer to the baking sheet and cut a large X in the top. Bake for 60-70 minutes.
Serve with generous amounts of room-temperature Irish butter.