Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish soda bread


I am celebrating St. Patrick's Day early this year. Since Thursdays are my busiest work day I decided to make my special meal a day early. I have been wanting to try beef stew using Guinness beer instead of wine for a long time and what more perfect time than St. Patrick's Day?

We almost always have bread with soup; usually either beer cheese bread or Ciabatta bread. But in the spirit of the holiday I thought I would try Irish soda bread. Most recipes I have seen have raisins and sound more sweet.  But this recipe even mentioned how well it goes with soup and stews.

This was adapted from the The Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook.  It's a Weasley recipe. :)

Ingredients:

4 cups All Purpose Flour Plus Extra For Dusting
1 ½ tsp Baking Soda
1 ½ tsp Cream Of Tartar
1 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
4 Tbsp Butter (½ Stick)
1 large Egg - Beaten
1 ½ cups Buttermilk


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. in a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar. Cut the butter in small pieces and work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands. You want the butter cold for this; it is much easier to work it into the flour. Continue rubbing the butter into the flour until combined and the mixture is uniform without any chunks of butter. Fold the beaten egg and buttermilk into the mixture until just mixed and a dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a couple times until the dough comes together.

2. Form the dough into a circle and place on a cookie sheet or 9 inch round baking dish. Dust extra flour onto the top of the dough and with a shape knife make an X about a ¼ inch deep on the top of the dough.

3. Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown.

4. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.



Don't worry about getting the dough perfectly shaped and round. Every photo I have seen looks very rustic. It supposed to look like that! I did like making it in a round 9 inch pan; it was very easy to manage that way.
To make the X in the dough use the sharpest knife you have. If not you will stretch instead of cut the dough. Not the end of the world, of course, just not the same effect. I have read a razor blade is the absolute best way to cut it. 

It did go very well with the stew and is supposed to make amazing toast. I will try that out tomorrow morning.

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