Irish Soda Bread

Time to make something Irish. I am terrified of corned beef and cabbage, and believe it or not, I had not tried Irish Soda Bread until about 2 weeks ago. I am not sure what I was afraid of, but I was pleasantly surprised with the small sample I ate at the grocery store. Gwenny also seemed to enjoy it.

Be sure that the room is warm that you are leaving your bread in to rise. It took mine about 2 hours to rise the first time because the room was on the colder side. This recipe makes two loaves, so you can share with a friend!

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups of raisins

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and yeast. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and using your hands, mix until the dough just comes together. Mix in the raisins. Using a plastic bowl scraper, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and supple, 3 to 4 minutes. Shape into a round loaf.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm location until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down to deflate it, reshape it into a round loaf, and let it rest again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. With a bench scraper, divide it into two pieces, and shape them into two round loaves.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Dust the top of each loaf with flour, and with a bench scraper, form an X through the center of the bread, pressing down deeply in both directions with the scraper, almost cutting through the loaf. Place the loaves on a lightly floured baking sheet.

Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the crust is deep golder brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Source: The Sono Baking Company Cookbook

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