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,
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.
- Cool to room temperature, 30-40 minutes.