I decided that we needed one more culinary ode to Ireland before St. Patrick's Day actually arrived. What better than Ina Garten's Irish soda bread? Remembering just how sticky the dough can be, I threw open a few windows in the kitchen for a nice breeze to cool my brow while I kneaded away. I really should have put the air conditioning into use because it was 82 degrees here at noon. Here in the midwest! Here where we've had some of the biggest snows in mid-March! To be honest, I've overdramatized the kneading as there's very little to be done. I've not overdramatized our weather. It is glorious!
I did tweak Ina's recipe just a tiny bit. Why would I do that? Certainly not because it needed tweaking. I did it because I only had raisins in the house. Ina uses currants. I tripled the amount of orange zest simply because I had that much when I finished grating the orange.
Don't despair at the very sticky dough that you fear might just slide off the baking sheet. It doesn't! It holds it's place and, in about 45 minutes, you have this lovely golden loaf.
While it's still slightly warm, slice yourself a silky piece..or two..slather with a little butter and some orange marmalade. It was lunch time. I had a glass of cold milk. Had it been 3 p.m., I'd have prepared a pot of tea.
Irish Soda Bread inspired by Ina Garten
4 cups flour, plus extra for raisins
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
1. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine on low speed for 30 seconds. Scatter the butter in and mix, on low speed, until the butter is crumbled into the flour.
2. In another bowl, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture for about 1 minute or until flour is incorporated. Combine the raisins with one tablespoon of flour and then mix into the dough. The dough will be very wet and sticky.
3. Liberally flour a wooden board and scrape the dough out onto the board. Using well-floured hands (I used a dough scraper too), knead the dough a few times and form into a rough, round loaf. Place the loaf onto the prepared sheet pan and cut an X into the top (not easy with the soft dough--I ended up cutting a rough X with kitchen scissors). Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
4. Cool on a rack. Delicious served warm or at room temperature.