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52 Weeks of Baking: Irish Soda Bread


This weekend we made a Guinness Beef Stew (although why we were making stew on such a gorgeous day is beyond me...) and I figured that a good hearty Irish Soda Bread would be a nice accompaniment. So I dug out the trusty Baking Illustrated and gathered up all my ingredients.

Since the stew took over 8 hours to make, and since I am the world's greatest procrastinator, I kept saying, "Oh I'll make the bread in a little bit." The boyfriend kept asking when I was starting and I kept saying, "soon, soon..." Then suddenly, the stew was almost done, the bread was just a pile of ingredients, the butter was beyond room temp (it was really hot out and I didn't pay attention, I highly recommend room temp butter and nothing more) and I needed to get cracking!

So I pulled out the ol' mixing bowl and got to work. It was barely done in time (it could have used a little bit longer to set) and an old friend I hadn't seen in over a year arrived while I was halfway done (translation: this bread did not get my full-undivided attention). I guess the bf was right, I should have started earlier in the day...

At any rate, the bread held up really nicely and paired fantastically with the stew. If this is what I get with haste and negligence, I can only imagine what a real loaf would be like (translation: this recipe is easy and hard to screw up). For step by step pictures and the full recipe, read more

Classic Irish Soda Bread
From Baking Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen


3 cups (15 oz) low-protein unbleached all-purpose flour (although I used regular all-purpose flour and it came out okay)
1 cup (4 oz) plain cake flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp softened unsalted butter, plus 1 tbps melted butter for crust
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  • Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Work the softened butter into the dry ingredient with a fork or your fingertips. Do this until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Add buttermilk and stir with a fork just until the dough begins to come together.
  • Turn the dough out onto a flour-coated work surface. Knead until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy (12 - 14 turns, do not overknead, you do not want it to be smooth).
  • Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches in height.
  • Place on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  • Score the dough by cutting a cross shape on the top of the loaf.
  • Bake until loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the surface with the melted butter.
    Ignore this baking pan, I just needed somewhere to set the loaf...Ignore this baking pan, I just needed somewhere to set the loaf...
  • Cool to room temperature, 30-40 minutes.

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