I make two versions of Irish soda bread each year – this one, from my mother, and a Traditional White Irish Soda Bread.
My Mother's Irish Soda Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, chilled
1 cup currants or 1 ½ cups raisins
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg yolk, beaten, for brushing on top of bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8 or 9-inch cake pan; set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together both flours, sugar, salt and baking powder, then whisk to combine. Stir in caraway seeds. Use a fork, pastry blender, or your fingertips to cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse meal; stir in currants or raisins.
In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, 1 egg and baking soda; use a fork to stir into flour mixture, just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead lightly until dough is smooth. Shape into a ball and place in the prepared cake pan. For two smaller loaves, divide the ball in half and form two smaller balls; place in separate pans for baking.
Use a sharp knife to cut a 4-inch cross at least a half-inch deep in the center of the dough (this makes a decorative top). Brush top and sides with egg yolk.
Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 50 to 60 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in center or loaf comes out clean. The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show that it is done.
Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack; cool for 10 minutes. To serve, cut into thin slices, starting at one end. Excellent served warm from the oven, or toasted.
To store: Wrap loaf in tin foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature for several days. Can be frozen for at least two months, either whole or sliced.
Sarah’s Soda Bread Tips:
- As soon as the baking soda mixes with the buttermilk the leavening process has begun, so do no let the dough sit before putting in the oven.
- A baking sheet, 2-quart casserole dish or Dutch oven may also be used to bake the bread.
- Handle the dough as little as possible to prevent it from becoming tough.