Another favourite of mine, Irish Soda Bread… slathered with butter of course. Yum! This bread is actually quite easy to make. I used cake flour, rather than all-purpose flour in the mixture because I had read somewhere that Irish flour is of finer consistency than our all-purpose flour. I think the all-purpose would likely be fine though. Once your dough is all mixed up and you’ve formed your loaf or two smaller loaves if you so choose, don’t forget to cut a cross in the top of each loaf about 1″ deep.
I’ve heard various reasons as to why you do this. Some say it helps the bread cook evenly. I’ve also heard it is done as a blessing to keep the devil away. My favourite reason is that you cut a cross in to allow the fairies to escape! Once your crosses are cut, remember to brush the top of the loaves with a milk/egg wash mixture and sprinkle with raw or Demerara sugar. Bake at 400° F for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 375° F and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden brown.
I’ve also been told that if you wrap the loaves in a damp tea towel while they are cooling on the wire rack, they will be much moister. Enjoy!
Irish Soda Bread
2 1/2 cups cake flour ( I think all-purpose would work fine as well)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. milk
Raw sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400° F (200° F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with butter.
Pour boiling water over the raisins and currants. Allow to sit for 15- 30 minutes to plump.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl until evenly blended. Cut in the butter using a food processor or by hand until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the raisins and currants, then make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead gently. Divide the dough in two equal halves if you wish to make two smaller loaves, or form one 6 1/2″ diameter loaf. Place onto the prepared baking sheets. Cut a cross 1″ deep into the top of each loaf.
Whisk egg and 1 tablespoon of milk together in small bowl.
Brush top of each loaf with milk/egg wash mixture. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake loaves in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° F (190° C) and bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, approximately 15 more minutes.
Remove bread to wire rack to cool. Wrap in damp tea towels while cooling.
Makes one 6 1/2 ” diameter loaf or two smaller loaves.