Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Make some Irish Soda Bread

Irish Bread
Baking traditions in the Emerald Isle are the stuff of legends, but soda bread remains everyone's favorite
There are many traditional baked goods in Ireland that have evolved over the centuries. From the earliest times, bread-making was an integral part of daily life in almost every home. Families lived in isolated farmhouses where most kitchens had only open hearths, not ovens, so the breads that developed were baked on griddles or in large three-legged black iron pots over fragrant turf fires. The aroma and taste of traditional soda bread is unique to Ireland, and it's become the established favorite with tourists and locals alike.
•Top 20 Irish Soda Bread Recipes



Buttermilk and soda were the main raising agents used in the past, and the use of these prime ingredients has never lapsed. Buttermilk is a great preservative, but more importantly it gives soda bread and scones that beautiful tender crumb for which they are famous.



Even though there is an abundance of readily available, good-quality breads in supermarkets today, quite a few Irish families still bake their own daily from specially treasured recipes passed down through the generations.
•In most parts of Ireland, soda bread is shaped and baked as a round loaf with a cross marked on top.
•You may be surprised to learn that it isn't a religious symbol at all, nor was it to let the fairies out. In the old days, it was simply a practical method of dividing the baked bread into four quarters.
•In the North of the country, soda bread is cooked on a flat griddle pan and comes in triangular shapes called farls. The name originates from the Gaelic word fardel, meaning "fourth part." The dough is flattened into a round disc and divided into four equal triangular shapes. The bread cooks quickly on a hot dry griddle or frying pan. Each farl is then split in half and eaten warm.
•Farls are also very popular fried in bacon fat and served as part of the infamous Irish breakfast. It's believed that soda-bread farls evolved this way because it is the fastest method of cooking bread when unexpected guests arrive for a bit of banter. Try this recipe for Irish Soda Farls.

Since soda bread is a simple bread to make and can be rustled up in minutes, an astonishing number of variations exist: wheaten, with raisins and caraway seeds, the treacle variety, or simply plain--all equally irresistible.

There's no doubting, however, that soda bread tastes best still warm from the oven, spread with lashings of butter and homemade rhubarb jam and washed down with that essential cuppa tea.

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread
 By: MP Welty 
"A good old fashioned soda bread with just the basic ingredients. Buttermilk gives this crusty loaf a good flavor. The best Irish soda bread around!"

 4 cups all-purpose flour
 4 tablespoons white sugar
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 tablespoon baking powder
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup margarine, softened
 1 cup buttermilk
 1 egg
 1/4 cup butter, melted
 1/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.
Irish Soda Bread
 1/2 cup white sugar
 4 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 3/4 teaspoon salt
 3 cups raisins
 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
 2 eggs, lightly beaten
 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
 1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch round cast iron skillet or a 9 inch round baking or cake pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour (reserving 1 tablespoon), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins and caraway seeds. In a small bowl, blend eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir the liquid mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Knead dough in bowl about 10 to 12 strokes. Dough will be sticky. Place the dough in the prepared skillet or pan and pat down. Cut a 4x3/4 inch deep slit in the top of the bread. Dust with reserved flour
3. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 65 to 75 minutes. Let cool and turn bread onto a wire rack.
Jim's Cheddar Onion Soda Bread

 By: Keri
 "I begged this recipe from my co-worker when he 'accidentally' mentioned he had a great soda bread recipe. It was perfect timing, because St. Patrick's Day was only days away!"

 4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
 1 tablespoon baking powder
 6 tablespoons butter, softened
 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bread flour, salt, and baking powder until thoroughly combined. Beat in the butter, buttermilk, and confectioners' sugar to make a dough; gently mix in the onion and Cheddar cheese. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a ball. Place the loaves onto the prepared baking sheet, and gently flatten to about 2 inches thick. Dust each loaf with flour.
3. Bake on a preheated oven until browned, about 30 minutes. Cool on racks for a few minutes; serve warm.

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