Why You Should Start Making Irish Soda Bread This Fall
Hint: it only takes 10 minutes of your time.
Autumn is the time to eat warm soups and stews with fresh bread. Of all meals, homemade bread and soup fills our stomachs and fights off the chill of incoming cold fronts like nothing else. However, many breads are difficult to make and almost all of them are time consuming. Irish soda bread is unique. After a long day at work, you can throw it together in less than 10 minutes and slide it into the oven to bake while you make dinner.
Soda bread didn't actually originate in Ireland, but it became a staple in the country during the Great Famine of the 19th century because it was economical to make and took very little time. While most breads are leavened (made to rise) with yeast, soda bread depends on baking soda and buttermilk to rise. It also requires very little kneading, and because yeast is not involved, no time is necessary for the dough to sit before baking.
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This recipe is the natural companion to a hearty beef stew or vegetable soup, and it's best served with butter. It creates a crusty and firm exterior while the inside remains soft and crumbly. The aromatic caraway seeds give the loaf a distinct flavor, and you can mix in a cup of raisins or dried currents for a little sweetness in the savory bread.
How to Make It
In a bowl, whisk together 4 cups all-purpose flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds (optional). Cut in 4 Tbsp. butter with your fingers until the butter is incorporated into the flour. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 large egg and 1 3/4 cups buttermilk. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine with a spoon until you can use your hands to incorporate the rest of the dry ingredients. Knead just until the dough comes together and is smooth. Shape into a 7-inch disc (1-inch thick) and place into a greased cast-iron skillet or on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 40-45 minutes.