Irish Sod-y Bread.
Everytime I make Irish Soda Bread, I am flooded with memories of St. Patricks Day at the Bakery. It was such a crazy affair, pages and pages of handscrawled special orders, counting and recounting all loaves accounted for, mixing and shaping and baking as fast as we could. I remember the order of Buttermilk that we would receive the day prior; it took up every inch of our reach in fridge. The bags and bags of flour, the pounds and pounds of butter. And I remember pulling an all nighter, starting our bake at midnight the night before just so nothing unforeseen could surprise us the next day. A missed order. Late Menu Planners. One year, I remember coming up with the idea to dye the bread green. Not the best idea, our wooden workbenches were dyed green for weeks, and so, too, were our everyday loaves of honey white, sourdough..
During the normal week, we would only offer Soda Bread of Saturdays, and it was these mornings that we could barely keep up with the customers that filled the front lobby. We almost always ran out of Soda Bread, and each week, we would up the par. Not sure why we didn’t just offer it more times during the week. We had so many breads that we did daily, and the Soda Bread pretty much trumped them all.
There is something nice about Soda Bread. In a bakery where yeast was king, this bread was the quickest to throw together. In a pinch, you could just make more…not the case with the 12 other breads that spent their days rising in buckets and garbage pails strewn about.
Soda Bread is probably the easiest bread to make too. No need to have any kneading know how, this bread shines with a light touch and its craggily imperfect top.
Today, in honor of St. Patricks Day, I decided to step back in time and make some Soda Bread. Normally, I am a purest when it comes to this bread, (just flour, butter, sugar, baking soda, salt and buttermilk) but today, I decided to add a little pizzazz, some whiskey soaked raisins. I wont mention that I didn’t have any Irish Whiskey on hand and had to go with Bourbon instead….no, I didn’t just say that, in case you are Irish. I was pretty happy with the result. The Raisins added an additional depth of flavor, which was a really nice complement to my Guinness and Beef Stew. (thanks Carrie!)
Recipe: adapted from the Bread Bible.
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup whiskey
2 oz butter
2 cups flour
3 Tabl sugar
1 teas baking soda
3/4 teas salt
3/4 (give or take a little) cup buttermilk
soak raisins in rum for 30 minutes, at least. or up to overnight..drain and reserve the whiskey for another use...(or drink it!)
mix together dry ingredients and rub the butter into the flour mix until resembles a coarse meal. add the raisins and toss. add buttermilk and mix just to incorporate. shape into a round, slash an X with a knife, about 1/2 inch deep, and bake on a lined sheetpan for 40 minutes at 375.