Eric & I have been in love with Irish Soda bread ever since we had a sample of it at Henrys Farmers Market. We were grocery shopping and the sample lady generously handed us two hefty slices of Irish Soda bread with Irish butter. She was sooo sweet, and after we oohed and ahhed that we loved it, she promptly gave us more. How can you say no to that? It was surprisingly sweet like a cake, but shaped like a bread boule. The currants and sugary topping was perfectly crunchy and delicious as you bit into it, you couldn't help but fall in love with those darn carbs. This post would have helped last month around Saint Patricks Day so I would have an appropriate themed-post, but I just happened to have the time a month later to prepare it.
I took it upon me to find a recipe as close to the one we had sampled, low and behold there was a recipe in one of my many Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks. I knew I had a winner, it was Ina-approved! However, I wanted that sugary bite and crunch, so I added the sanding sugar or you can easily substitute turbinado sugar. It makes for such a pretty garnish on top of the bread. This was a great recipe, but not as good as the Henrys bread but still highly enjoyable. It was a labor of love to find a recipe close to it, but we have been enjoying this bread all week long.
Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
4 cups all-purpose flour4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons of sanding sugar
1 cup rum-soaked currants
*Rum-soaked Currants - Heat the rum in a small saucepan just to boiling. Remove from heat and add the currants. Soak until currants are softened, about 30 minutes. Drain off any excess rum.
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
3. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Drizzle sanding sugar on top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
5. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Review: This was a denser Irish Soda bread than the one we had bought from Henry's Farmers Market. It had a nice sweet texture from the rum-soaked currants and we've been enjoying this as a breakfast bread for the past week. It makes the largest loaf of Irish Soda Bread (bigger than my head) but I recommend sharing it with friends or enjoying it all to yourself. Maybe a slice or two for the hubs as well.