Saturday, March 17, 2012

An Irish Bread Recipe to Covet

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! This time last year I was in Dublin and loving life. I hope you're all enjoying the high holiday with some Guinness and corned beef!

In the spirit of the holiday I made some Irish Soda Bread to go along with an Irish dinner. This bread isn't your typical soda bread as it's a little sweeter than most soda bread from the extra sugar and raisins but I like it as a desert/breakfast bread more than something with dinner. It's also known as "Spotted Dog" because it has the additional sugar and raisins. Unfortunately it was not gluten-free so I could not indulge but I figured I would share the recipe anyway! I've been making this for a few years now and it has always been a hit.

A short explanation of the 'X' on Irish bread: It is said that the X in the bread allows the fairies that might get caught up in it during baking to escape. It also conveniently allows the middle to get completely baked and as an easy breaking point.

"Spotted Dog" Irish Soda Bread
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cups raisins
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp sugar
½ cup butter cold
1 cup buttermilk

-Soak raisins till plump in boiling water (for 5-15 min, see note)
-Mix in all dry ingredients
-Cut in butter until in tiny clumps
-Strain raisins and stir into mix
-Add buttermilk ¼ cup at a time
-Mix together, it will be a very wet dough so don't be concerned
-Scrape dough into greased pie dish and shape using a spatula.
-Cut an ‘X’ into dough for all sorts of reasons
-Bake for 15 min at 400 degrees then for 30 min at 375 degrees

 Let cool a little and cut. Serve with Irish butter!

If I don't have actual buttermilk I will make my own using 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup of milk but it is preferable to have the real stuff. 
The dough is a very wet dough, wet to the touch. Much more like a cookie dough than a bread dough and that's a good thing because it guarantees you good color. But, if it really worries you, you can add a little more flour to make it a little less sticky.
I prefer to use a glass or ceramic pie dish to an aluminum one because it gives a better rise, see the pictures for an example.
I use to soak my raisins in just boiling water but now I like to use a couple of tea bags and some Irish whiskey to add a little more flavor!

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