Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish Soda Bread & A Celebrity Cook-Along!!!

When I realized it was going to be my turn to pick the recipe for Sweet Melissa Sunday's in March, I immediately turned to Irish Soda Bread. A perfect March recipe and a bread we so enjoy. I made Irish Soda Bread for the first time last year. Melissa's recipe includes currants and raisins, while the recipe I made last year did not. Curious, I did some research on the history of Irish Soda Bread. I was interested to find out the ingredients in the traditional recipe. As it turns out, currants and raisins are a later addition to the traditional recipe.

The instructions in Melissa's recipe are to knead the dough lightly, adding a little more flour if necessary. I found this dough to be VERY sticky, so I chose to add a little more flour and use the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid. Much as I've tried, I've never mastered the art of kneading by hand. After kneading for a minute or two and adding a few tablespoons of flour, I still found the dough to be sticky. Rather than make this bread in round loaves on a cookie sheet, as Melissa suggests, I used a loaf pan. As I turned the dough into the pan, I was really hoping the bread was going to turn out. After all I was hosting and I didn't want to be posting about one of my flops!

I checked the bread after 30 minutes and it wasn't done. I continued baking in 5 minute increments until at 45 minutes the wooden skewer came out clean. After the bread cooled, I made a cup of Chai Tea and tried a slice. It's a delicious, hearty bread that would pair perfectly with soup, stew or even Corned Beef and Cabbage.

This is our SMS recipe for March 20th. Yes, I am posting a little early. You'll find the other SMS baker's results here on the 20th. I am also linking this to the St. Patrick's Day Blog crawl at Cuisine Kathleen's, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday's, Tuesday's at the Table.

Irish Soda Bread

From: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book
Yield: One 3-pound Loaf


1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup black currants
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk


Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a medium bowl, combine the raisins and currents. Pour boiling water over to cover and set aside to reconstitute. In a bowl of of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and cloves. Add the cold butter pieces and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the caraway seeds, if using, and mix to blend. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to combine thoroughly. Do not over mix. Drain the raisins and currants thoroughly. Add them to the dough and mix on low speed for 20 seconds.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Kneed the dough gently, until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Using a little flour, if needed, form the dough into one large round - or divide it in half to form two small rounds.

Place the round (rounds) on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut the traditional "X" cutting about 1 1/2 inches deep into the top. Bake for 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes for the large loaf, or 10 minutes for the smaller loaves. The loaves will be golden, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center wil come out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Irish soda bread is best eaten the day it is made, but it can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for two days. For longer storage, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to five days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to three weeks. Defrost still wrapped at room temperature.

Last by not least, I am joining Lynn at Happier Than A Pig in Mud for her Celebrity Cook-along. Her cook-along is featuring the recipes of Ina Garten. I enjoy Ina's recipes and had a hoped to find the time to make a new one for this event but out of town guests and daylight savings time got the best of me. I'm linking to an earlier recipe I made, Ina's Granola Bars. If you haven't made them, give them a try. They're delicious!


  1. Your soda bread looks delicious, Julie! I would love a slice or two!

  2. Oh yum this sounds very good!

  3. Hi Julie,
    Thanks for joining in the blog crawl.
    Your bread looks delicious!
    Raisins were expensive, poor people could not afford to add them to their bread. My bil is Irish born.
    I have always made mine with raisins, love them.
    Happy SPD!

  4. Thanks for the history behind the currants and raisins...and your bread looks delicious!

  5. St Paddy's Greetings from a fellow Nebraskan :)

    Your bread sounds wonderful -- I think the soda bread is our very favorite part of the meal...I like to use currents in mine :)


  6. I love soda bread, but some are better than others and this one looks divine! Happy St. Paddy's Julie.

  7. I have plans to make this bread on Thursday. It definitely is the perfect time of year for soda bread! Yours looks great!

    You did read the Artesian bread recipe correctly - no kneading!

  8. The bread looks so good. I would enjoy a hot slice now.

  9. Just Stopping by from TMTT. I make irish soda bread, but I never thought of putting raisins in it, I will have to give it that twist the next time I make it. While I was here I wanted to invite you to check out my Iron Chef Challenge This month's themed ingredient is canned tomatoes, so link up a recipe using those and you could win a prize. It should be a lot of fun, hope you can join us!!

  10. I'm having so much fun looking at all the different soda bread recipes..they have all looked great, as yours!

  11. Julie, I made this a few weeks ago and I can't remember anything about making it but I remember, it was good. I hope, I remember to blog t his. I forgot TWD, Tuesday. Life is busy.

    This was a great pick. Thanks.

  12. I've never tried making Irish Soda Bread. Maybe next year. Yours looks like it turned out beautifully!

  13. I LOVE Irish soda bread. After seeing your delicious recipe I am tempted for get a piece from my freeze that I made the other day. A bedtime snack, maybe :)

  14. Your bread looks fantastic. I think, this was an excellent choice. Thanks for hosting.

  15. thanks for hosting! I enjoyed trying something new.

  16. Great pick, Julie! We really enjoyed it. Thanks for hosting!

  17. Great selection, Julie! I thought this bread was delicious. Sorry you had sticky dough, but it looks like the results were excellent.


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