Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread with Orange Butter

Irish Soda Bread with Orange Butter

Being Irish it was only natural for me to make Irish Soda Bread around Saint Patrick's Day (note the colors of the Irish flag in the title of this post). Irish Soda Bread is called Irish Soda Bread because it uses baking soda to leaven the bread as opposed to the more commonly used yeast.  It is incredibly easy to make and almost impossible to mess up.  One recipe I found called for half whole wheat flour and half white flour which I thought was a nice twist on the original but it didn't call for any raisins! Raisins, for me, are an imperative element to Irish Soda Bread and I made sure to add them to the mix!

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup raisins

Uncooked dough.
I think a lot of people can be intimidated by making bread and dough but this honestly was the easiest recipe! Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Use a little extra flour to give the baking sheet a light dusting as well. Put the quarter cup of raisins into a small bowl with a quarter cup of the buttermilk to allow the raisins a few extra minutes in the liquid to rehydrate them.  This makes them extra juicy even once the bread comes out of the oven. Whisk the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the two cups of buttermilk along with the raisins and buttermilk mixture. Using your hands, stir the ingredients using large circular motions around the edge of the bowl until everything is well-combined.

Fresh out of the oven.
Take the dough out of the bowl and pat it out onto the baking sheet with lightly floured hands. You may have to gently knead the dough a few times by pushing the dough outward with the palm of your hand. Form the dough into a round shape and use a sharp knife to mark the dough with a cross. The cross and resulting four quadrants of dough are very typical of Irish Soda Bread because it was originally made by Irish Catholics who wanted to impart their religious symbol onto the bread.
Place the baking sheet in the oven on a middle rack and bake for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees fahrenheit and bake until the loaf is nicely browned on top, probably thirty to thirty five minutes. Take the bread out of the oven and place on a cooling rack.  Allow to cool for about thirty minutes before slicing.

Orange Butter

1 stick butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Using a cheese grater or microplane, rub the skin of an orange just so that the orange part of the peel is grated. You don't want to use the white part of the peel because it has a bitter taste. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.  Serve chilled or at room temperature as a spread for the Irish Soda Bread. Enjoy!

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