TWD-BWJ: Irish Soda Bread
Our assignment for this Tuesdays with Dorie is Irish Soda Bread. It’s very interesting how four very simple ingredients: flour, soda, salt, and buttermilk can be transformed into a crusty, comforting loaf of bread. There are hundreds of recipes and variations available for Irish soda bread. There are a myriad of articles that have been written about what is authentic and what is not. I’m sure over the years every family in every home and county made this recipe their own just as you can probably look through each of the hundreds of postings on Tuesdays with Dorie and see a great many different ways to make soda bread and different ingredients to add to the dough depending on what is in the pantry where you live.
I have made Irish Soda Bread before; not too successfully I might add. I began my preparation as I have so frequently lately by viewing the episode of Baking With Julia with Marion Cunningham where she prepares soda bread. I believe it is available on YouTube as well. If you watch it notice her beautiful hands as they stroke and caress the dough. I love how she wears her rings even when putting her hands in the sticky dough. (I’ve been criticized for not taking mine off so I’m going to remember that she doesn’t either.) I always feel so much more confident after watching these shows which I suspect was a key to their popularity. You just feel like you can do anything.
Basically you mix the dry ingredients together and then pour the buttermilk into a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix together quickly. With floured hands quickly form into a ball, patting and kneading as little as possible. Lay the dough into a greased pie plate. You cut an X into the top of the loaf and bake it in the oven for about 50 minutes. You want to do this all quickly because it is the reaction between the acid in the buttermilk and the soda that gives the bread its rise. You don’t want to over handle the dough letting all those gas bubbles escape.
This recipe produced a wonderful loaf that was enjoyed over several days. Dorie cautions that the loaf can become hard and inedible after a day but following Julia’s instruction on the DVD to wrap tightly in plastic it lasted more than four days. I do believe I could have allowed the loaf to remain in the oven a little longer. It was great when we first cut it but just a little damp the next day. It made fantastic toast.
This post is part of Tuesdays With Dorie a dedicated group of cooks who are baking their way through the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking With Julia which was the companion book to the television series Baking with Julia. You can go here to see how all the others in the group did with their Irish Soda Bread and all their creative adaptations. Our hosts for this week are Cathleen at My Culinary Mission and Carla at Chocolate Moosey.
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