We don’t take St. Patty’s Day lightly in my family. My grandfather was parade marshall of the Holyoke, Massachusetts St. Patrick’s Day parade, and my parents met at a St. Patrick’s Day coronation ball. Enough said. For years I would make this Irish soda bread for my grandparents and other family members, and now that they’re gone and I live away from my family up North, I was thrilled to have clients to make it for this year! I paired it with a white sweet potato, Dubliner, cabbage & turkey bacon soup – perfect for the cold spell us Floridians are suffering through (it was 40° when I woke up yesterday morning!)
This bread has a great crust and perfect crumb – dense yet still tender. The caraway seeds and currants play off of each other to balance savory and sweet. And make sure to top each slice with plenty of salted Kerrygold grass-fed butter! You can adjust the ratio of whole wheat flour to white flour however you’d like – I’ve actually made it with 100% whole wheat, but I prefer a ratio of 1 part white to 3 parts whole wheat. I like the currants instead of raisins because of their smaller size, and they keep the bread from drying out once it’s baked. Bake a loaf, bring some to a family member or neighbor, and luck of the Irish to you!
Recipe: Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour – a mix of whole wheat & white, depending on your preference
1/4 cup sugar, preferably unbleached
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
4 tablespoons grass-fed butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 c currants
1 1/2 scant cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt & baking powder until well combined.
Using a pastry cutter or two knives in scissor fashion, cut in butter until the mixture feels like coarse meal but there are still small bits of butter remaining. Stir in caraway seeds and currants until evenly distributed. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and baking soda until well combined. Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour-and-butter mixture all at once, and stir with a spatula until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to hold together.It should resemble a rough biscuit dough. Do not over mix or it will be tough! Using your hands, press the dough into a round, dome-shaped loaf about 8-10 inches in diameter. The dough might have a mind of its own and just go with it rather than trying to form it into a perfect ball and over-working the dough. Lift the loaf from the bowl, and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream/milk together. With a sharp knife or razor, cut a cross, about 1/2 inch deep, into the top of the loaf.With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the loaf. Transfer to the oven and bake, rotating halfway through, until it is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 70 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer bread from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.